Feminism has become, slightly weirdly, a buzzword in marketing. However, over the years, there have been some truly awesome feminist ad campaigns that managed to strike the right chord in their time. So it’s time to see if it’s a good thing or a tragedy?

 

W for woman

According to urban dictionary, feminism – is the belief that women are and should be treated as potential intellectual equals and social equals to men. Feminists can be either male or female human beings despite the ideology is commonly (and perhaps falsely) associated mainly with women. The basic idea of Feminism revolves around the principle that just because human bodies are designed to perform certain procreative functions, biological elements need not dictate intellectual and social functions, capabilities, and rights.

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As the social movement, this resonating with all the industries, also advertising. The advertising industry is fast-changing. If couple decades ago woman in ad had a sexist role-provocative sexual and and the image supposed to make consumer desire the product, today it’s not like this. From the mid of the previous century we are moving from the industry selling sex to the criticism of it and femvertising. The feminist’s mood in marketing is also appeared in a  raising  against sexist ads. One of the most famous one is #womannotobjects. It aims to end objectification in advertising, to stop the harm it causes, to teach girls that their worth is not their weight, their looks or their body parts, but who they are, what they have to say and what they can do. It aims to support brands that empower women, to inspire the world to find a better way.

Mainly, femvertising  is connected with empowering – lifestyle product companies used to make inspirational campaigns, showing strong women. Mostly, this campaigns showing confident females successful in their occupation or originally fitted with there way of life. And this is actually the right tone of voice – this touching us.

 

Back to roots

The number of changes happened during 20th century towards women rights is great. From the right to vote from being equally markes considering career ways.

Turning to history we always remember Coco Chanel – the great woman declared trousers to be not just men’s piece of cloths. Looking through her story we see her attitude towards women –  strong. self-assurance, independent, educated. In her business, she made a clothes revolution of female that “liberate” women from the constraints of the corset and popularized sporty, designing and creating several more comfortable clothes like little dress and suit for women. Her personality and spirit made her become a model of women in 20th century. Coco Chanel is not only an excellent example in her time, the most important thing is that she made a long-lasting and timeless influence on luxury and fashion, and the feminist movement.

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Does the advertising have a gender?

There are different sides of this feminist marathon. The reaction towards some campaigns and the thoughts come to mind are not the ones, creators were thinking of. Let’s start from the Virginia Slims. Well, if talking about marketing itself – it’s all about selling. But going deeper – the attempt to sell more cigarettes to women isn’t seem to be good.

The reason was that women we ashamed to smoke in public. So the idea was to fight for the right to smoke in public and this meant to sell more cigarettes. The campaign was powered by the tagline: “You’ve come a long way baby,” appealing to recent victories like the Equal Rights Amendment and Roe v. Wade. One of the comments came from historian and gender scholar Ruth Rosen. He points out in the Huffington Post: “As it happened, the only equality this campaign ended up supporting involved lung cancer. Today, women and men die at similar rates from that disease.”

According to medical research, women are more vulnerable to health problems when they smoke, and lung cancer is set to replace breast cancer as the most common cause of death for women because of the “surge in the number of women who started smoking in the 1960s and 1970s. “But if we are talking about the total equality and the product in basically unhealthy – that no matter for whom it’s made, right?

#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell

 

Who rule the world?

Feminism didn’t end with Coco. The end of the 20th century was the time, when the changes started  in all the spheres all over the world. The world became more global. The Spice Girls took the reins and were popularizing Girl Power in the 90s.. Many celebrities continuing to do the very same today. Jennifer Lawrence is demanding equal pay in Hollywood, Lena Dunham is about to direct a TV series about the feminist movement in the 60s.  Back in 2014, Beyoncé appeared in front of giant neon lights that said FEMINIST and made it clear that this is a new era, where feminism is not only fair and necessary, but also cool. But could feminism be the new “cool” way to sell?

#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell

 

Not just Hermiona

For sure, total globalisation  let us an opportunity to solve the global problems way more effective. So, Emma Watson, famous for her role at Harry Potter, become the ambassador of the #HeForShe organisation. She presented a speech for gender equality in the United Nations. UN Women created a movement to provide a systematic approach and targeted platform where a global audience can engage and become change agents for the achievement of gender equality in our lifetime. #HeForShe invites people everywhere to come together as equal partners to craft a shared vision of a gender equal world and implement specific, locally relevant solutions for the good of all of humanity.

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Like a girl

“Like A Girl” is the campaign came from one of the most hygiene and woman products of the market – Always. The concept of it is a simple, but genius, thinking deeper. Girls and women, boys and men were asked to think and show what is “throw/run like a girl” looks like. The results are made in a short social video. Most of the respondents showed the same things thinking of the task. But the interesting thing is coming when girls are asked to behave the way they are doing it every day – you are imagining the results, right? It underscores the point that somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, a girl’s self esteem plummets due to the negative connotations this colloquialism holds. This is all about the stereotypes society telling us and the feeling of confidence. This especially important while puberty – the time when the personality is formulating.

The campaign is continuing with few more resolutions, like this one, supporting girls in sports. The bottom-line is that the #LikeaGirl mission reaches beyond Always’ products to create an initiative for fundamental change in gender biases — an issue already top of mind for Always’ consumer base.
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Shaking up the pink aisle

Actually, the differentiation of genders is starting from childhood. Children supposed to play different toys, we consider dolls for girls and cars and engineering stuff – for boys. But is that right? Goldie Blox is the award-winning children’s multimedia company disrupting the pink aisle in toy stores globally. It challenging gender stereotypes with the world’s first girl engineer character. It works through the integration of storytelling and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) principles. GoldieBlox creates toys, books, apps, videos, animation and merchandise; the tools that empower girls to build their confidence, dreams and ultimately, their futures.

“89% of engineers are male. So we literally live in a man’s world. Yet 50% of the population is female. If we want to live in a better world, we need girls building these things too. We need girls solving these problems,” says Debbie Sterling, CEO and inventor of GoldieBlox.
#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell

#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell #Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell

 

Woman. The real one

We are mostly surrounded by perfect pictures of perfect models. Skin body, perfect face – everything making us feel not that beautiful as picture. But we remember that nobody is perfect, right? So that is the thing some companies decided to promote through their philosophy and campaigns. The most famous one – Dove.

Beauty giant Dove already opened the debate a few years ago, when they launched the “Real Beauty Campaign”, a billboard campaign that featured “real” and diverse women in their underwear, without airbrushing or photoshopping, something that was previously unheard of. The campaign is showing that beauty has a wider definition. It’s breaking stereotypes of beauty in general and body standards. The campaign was not just profitable. It was also highly praised by the Samantha Skey, chief marketing officer of SheKnows. She said that Dove “really broke some boundaries” and, since then, the beauty brand has “seen massive growth in terms of its performance at retail”.

#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell

#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell

 

You’re more beautiful than you think

But they didn’t stop at this point. Dove continued to use this marketing approach and, in 2013, Dove’s Sketches TV spot took the crown for most-viewed video ad campaign of the year, generating more than 134 million total views. It was uploaded in 25 different languages to 33 of Dove’s YouTube channels. It was viewed in more than 110 countries. Moreover, parent company Unilever, which also owns other brands like Axe, stated that in the month following its release, Dove’s US sales jumped by 1% compared to an annual growth of 3% for the full year.

Anotheк worth seeing campaign by Dove is The Beauty Patches.  The problem is that women in our society still feel immensely uncomfortable in their own skin, so much so that they are willing to believe anything to feel better about themselves. So while considered “trickery,” Dove’s “Patches” hits this inherent issue right on the head. So, the next time you’ll think of your imperfection, just remember of Dove or watch this video. Keep calm, the beauty in inside us.

 

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#girlscan

Another example from beauty brand is the COVERGIRL and their #girlscan campaign. The company set the mission to encourage women to fulfill their potential,  to help girls overcome barriers to break boundaries. All of this empowering them to be the next generation of women who rock the world.  It was fronted, credibly, by Pink, Ellen DeGeneres and Janelle Monae. Which was almost enough to make you forget that CoverGirl spent 50 years telling young women “your personality needs layers, your face doesn’t”.

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Breaking the Sexist Workplace Stereotype

One more example from beauty industry is Labels against women came from Pantene and BBDO agency, Manila team. In 60 seconds, Pantene Philippines used an ad to deftly break down the double standards men and women face in the workplace. While a man is a “boss,” a woman is seen as “bossy.” Men are “persuasive,” while women are “pushy.” If a guy works late, he’s “dedicated,” but a woman is “selfish.” A man who struts down the street is “smooth,” but his female counterpart is “showy.” The tagline of this is “Don’t let labels hold you back. Be strong and shine.”

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Feminism on a runway

The femme trick is also working with the runways. On Chanel’s spring/summer 2015 runway there was a whole army of models holding placards with powerful feminist messages took the catwalk with Karl Lagerfeld at the head. But it was accused of being too frivolous. In the middle of Paris Fashion Week, Led by Cara Delevingne and Gisele Bündchen, the feminist “demonstration” threw out messages like “History Is Her Story” and “Make Fashion, Not War”. However, the media didn’t seem too convinced with the visually appealing parade, nor that its message was genuine. In words of the Guardian,  it was a “silly show”.

British blogger Susie Lau wrote a whole post about it: “Whatever Lagerfeld’s true stance on feminism is, it is difficult to believe the conviction of a uniform cast of women, held up to an unrealistic standard of beauty, waving such banners, whilst wearing clothes that are prohibitively expensive. Why go there, Karl? To court controversy? To get more Instagram likes?”. Lagerfeld defended the show by saying it was “right for the moment,” adding that he likes “the idea of feminism being something light-hearted, not a truck-driver for the feminist movement.” He actually seemed happy and proud with the outcome of his show.

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“My mother was a feminist, and I was brought up with a history of that.”

However, let’s give Karl the benefit of the doubt, maybe he’s changed his opinions on the feminist movement and women as a whole given that many of his models have been pretty open in their equality beliefs (none more notable than Cara). He was quoting with saying: “My mother was a feminist, and I was brought up with a history of that.” when interviewed at the show.  People change, opinions change, and hopefully the Chanel show will bring a more positive outlook on feminism within the fashion community.

Is a fashion show appropriate for this kind of feminist discussion or does it just trivialize the case? It’s all food for thought… Whether we agree or disagree with the way feminism is being used and/or embraced by pop culture and brands as a possible marketing ploy, or choose to think of it as an honest response to a current problem, one thing is clear: it is certainly helping to kick-start the debate.

 

Women in sport

It’s impossible not to mention the campaign I will what i want for Under Amour. “I WILL WHAT I WANT” speaks to women who do not wait for permission, advice or affirmation from others in order to go after what they want. Droga5 developed an extensive campaign that kicked off with the global launch film featuring ballerina Misty Copeland, unapologetically proving that inner strength can trump fate. The campaign goes on to show Misty and other fierce female athletes using their will to tune out society’s standards to achieve their dreams.

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Another example can be considered – PUMA’s “Do You”. The face of the campaign is model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne. The campaign “aims to inspire confidence in women everywhere.” “To ‘DO YOU’ is to take ownership of yourself and finding the power within that ownership —it’s a very powerful statement,” says Cara. “It’s about accepting who you are, no matter your faults. ’DO YOU’ is about finding your truth and sticking to it. I think it’s so special because it means something.” The campaign has it’s own web-platform, it’s worldwide and every woman can share her story.

#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell

#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell

 

To use or not to use?

Summarizing everything, that’s important to understand when it’ll be organically to implement feminine things to the marketing of the company. First, the product. It supposed to organically fit the feminist ideology and not to set apart the “feminist” woman and the “woman-woman”. Then, the company better to reflect the main feminist basics. And it’s starting from the inner politics, relations and standards within the company. This also means that the ideology of the company is also supposed to include the ideas of men and women equality. But there can be some if the company is great and producing differentiated products. Let’s take the example of Unilever. Feminist Dove and Sexist Axe – all under the one company. Anyway, for both brands the strategies are working.

One more thing is that targeting marketing to one gender doesn’t have to mean putting others down. The desire to specify the gender peculiarities by comparing both genders is high, but that’s not the correct thing to to make a husband look like an idiot and an incompetent father to sell your cleaning product to women. Sometimes, gendered advertising is unappropriate at all, for some products. For example if we are talking about the cleansing stuff. How about, “It’s a good product. Use it, because it’s awesome and it does this thing really well and will make your life easier?” That appeals to people of all genders.

#Femvertising: How Feminism Helps To Empower, Inspire ... And Sell

No more lables

Femine marketing is a cool thing, came from the long long struggle for the votes, being heard, having own voice. It’s all about culture and psychology of both genders. The important thing i want to say is that we are those who creating all of this frames. Not all that ads showing us a strong and independent woman are about being a feminist. Remember the meaning of the word feminism itself – that’s about equality, not about comparing males and females. Let’s stop competing and comparing, stop letting labels hold our backs.  

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