Femvertising has had its 15 minutes. It’s time to award something better

Final week to enter Athena Advertising Awards

I’m all for gender equality. Consumers seem to be for it, too. Brands that run empowering ads have social media parades thrown in their honor.

Yet I’ve become impatient. The refrain of “rah-rah women!” has become a cloying soundtrack, not swelling to a crescendo, but more like Muzak in an elevator that only runs between the basement and the first floor.

I want off.

As someone remarked on Twitter: “Female empowerment ads are like when your kid brother hits you in the face with your own hand while saying ‘stop hitting yourself!’”

Exactly. Reminding women that they’re strong and powerful was refreshing at first. Now it’s edging into brandsplaining.

Know what would really drive home how awesome women are? Advertising infused with a female perspective. You know, everyday ads for things like cars and hotels and banks. Where women are in the ads because, you know, women drive and travel and use credit cards. Women appearing in ads not as a poster child for equality, but as protagonists who happen to be female.

I’ve already made the point that more than 3% of female creative directors are needed to make ads that speak to women. We’ve got that covered. Now it’s time to question the work we’re awarding.

The last five years have shaken up advertising awards:

We’ve solved the gender diversity of juries (Thank you, Ignacio Oreamuno).

We’ve eliminated the eligibility of objectifying work (Thank you, Madonna Badger).

We’ve questioned the insane entry fees (Thank you, Sir Martin Sorrell).

Now it’s time to stop fetishizing femvertising and start awarding work that simply shows women doing what they do in the world. Not only awarding work with overt female empowerment messages, but work that breaks new ground by virtue of its point of entry and center of gravity.

That’s the goal of the 3% Movement in launching The Athena Advertising Awards. What a radical idea for the world’s most pervasive media: recognizing ads that depict strong, bold women from all walks of life, moving through the world with ambition, moxie, courage, and resilience.

That’s why I got on board with this when the Athena Film Festival brought 3% this idea. After nine years of awarding films that celebrate dimensional women, the Athena Film Festival team wondered if advertising belonged in the mix. So they called us. And we answered the call.

Others were ready to jump onboard quickly, signaling that this was an overdue idea for 2017, (much like The 3% Conference was in 2012).

Liz Taylor, chief creative officer at FCB Chicago, was enthusiastic immediately:

“I’m passionate about creative work and storytelling that inspires, energizes and makes an impact. That’s why I couldn’t be more honored to serve as jury chair for the first ever Athena Advertising Awards. The celebration of powerful creative is important, especially when it celebrates depictions of strong, courageous and ambitious women in advertising and media.”

Agencies have shown their support in an undeniable way: with entries. Since announcing the Athena Advertising Awards, dozens of campaigns – print, TV, social – have been submitted for consideration.

The winners will be announced from the main stage at The 3% Conference on November 3. The work will inspire 1,600 people gathered there and countless more via a global livestream. The winning work will be showcased again during the Athena Film Festival in February.

This is the future of advertising. Who’s with us?

Entries to The Athena Awards can be submitted through October 6 at filmfreeway.com/festival/AthenaAdAwards.

Wunderman proudly supports The Drum’s 3% Conference coverage. We believe true diversity does not check boxes, it checks itself. http://wunderman.com/

Kat Gordon

Kat Gordon is the founder of the 3% Conference.

All by Kat