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Industry leaders Come Together To Update The ‘Modern Face of Whisky’

Leaders in the whisky industry recently joined together to launch a free stock image library that looks to change outdated stereotypes of whisky drinkers.

The non-profit organization OurWhisky Foundation introduced the Modern Face of Whisky, a globally available, free-of-charge stock image library designed to challenge gender bias and improve the diversity of whisky drinkers portrayed in the media.

A statement from the non-profit noted that 11 industry leaders united to support the OurWhisky Foundation ambition to provide a more accurate illustration of today’s whisky drinkers. Those backers include: Glenfiddich, Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Distill Ventures, The Glenlivet, Brown-Forman, Whyte & Mackay, Glenmorangie, Diageo, Heaven Hill, and Edrington.

Modern Face of Whisky
Leaders in the whisky industry recently joined together to launch a free stock image library that looks to change outdated stereotypes of whisky drinkers. (image via OurWhisky Foundation)

The Modern Face of Whisky features a bank of unbranded stock photography depicting women and people of all genders, races and ages enjoying a variety of whisky services. The image library will be freely available to the media, content creators and wider industry via the OurWhisky Foundation website and free stock imagery platforms Pixabay, Unsplash and Pexels.

Becky Paskin, OurWhisky Foundation founder, said, “As a journalist myself, I’ve long been frustrated by the absence of gender diversity in available whisky imagery. Many of those currently available to the media are not representative of today’s whisky drinkers, preserving the false stereotype of whisky being a drink only enjoyed by men. This despite a growing number of women enjoying whisky, and many of the world’s most respected distillers and blenders being female.”

She said that increasing the availability of free stock images means that those working with even the tightest of budgets can still find appropriate and inclusive images to use.

“Witnessing the whisky industry uniting to change the face of whisky, and the people who drink it, is inspiring and a much-needed step towards achieving gender equality in the Industry,” she added. “By providing free access to a huge bank of imagery, it is my hope that this will act as a much-needed catalyst for change.”

Paskin explained that while women remain scarce in whisky imagery, the limited depictions available on free image sites often show women in lingerie, pregnant or as gamblers and alcoholics.

This imagery, the non-profit’s statement explained, paints a damaging portrait of the female whisky drinker, one that’s not consistent with the growing market of female whisky fans, who now make up around 36% of all whisky drinkers in the UK and USA.

In a 2020 report, OurWhisky Foundation looked at how the world’s largest whisky brands represented drinkers across their social media pages. Their study found 228% more images of men than women. And while 82% of people-centric posts featured men, only 36% featured women.

Laura Stanley, Pexels chief operating officer, said that through the Pexels for Change initiative, they’re adding Our Whisky Foundation and Jo Hanley’s work to the Pexels library, available for all to use freely.

“Globally, the association of whisky tends to be geared toward older, white men, when the reality is, whisky is enjoyed by many,” she said. “So long as the imagery available continues to perpetuate these stereotypes, that’s what we’ll continue to believe.As a free stock photo community, this is the kind of imagery we aim to amplify. The more imagery we have like this, the more it gets used and seen in everyday life. Ideally, changing those perceptions and stereotypes.”

The library’s first collection was created in partnership with renowned Australian photographer Jo Hanley. Based out of London, Edinburgh and New York, Hanley produces brand conscious photographic content for agencies, publications and clients worldwide, including the likes of Apple, British Airways, Comic Relief, Rolling Stone and the Wall Street Journal.

Hanley said, “I started my photographic career in Scotland where I quickly started shooting lifestyle images for the Scotch whisky industry – it really was love at first sight. However, being a female photographer, it became strikingly obvious that I was often the only woman involved in a project and the images that were being created always had a masculine lean to the art direction. The understanding was that whisky is a man’s drink.”

Hanley became involved with OurWhisky Foundation and the Modern Face of Whisky project to “help evolve the narrative of the whisky drinker and introduce female leads into the whisky story.”

The Modern Face of Whisky stock image library is available online at Pixabay, Pexels and Unsplash, as well as on the OurWhisky Foundation’s website, www.ourwhiskyfoundation.org/projects/the-modern-face-of-whisky

Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether that be a novel project, a start-up, an organization, a fresh-face to the journalistic world, or even something as simple as a short story. A native Texan and a Pacific Northwest convert, he is a whiskey enthusiast who cut his teeth on it ... literally!

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