While the #femvertising movement is seeing brands and advertisers think differently about how they portray women in their communications, the temptation to create content that sexualises women for clicks is still prevalent in the industry, with creative directors 'picking up the sexist paintbrush’ to generate more eyeballs, according to Madonna Badger, co-founder of agency Badger & Winters.
Drawing on Teleflora’s recent Cannes Lions Gold win that ran with the campaign line ‘Our job is to make the finest bridal bouquets, your job is not to sleep with the bridesmaid’, Badger said until awards bodies stop rewarding sexist campaigns, then equality in pay and in media portrayal of women will continue.
“If we are still giving awards for this type of advertising that portrays women in less than equal ways, as nothing more than an object, then we are not going to have equality in salaries, in portrayal and the belief that being a sex symbol is harmful,” said Badger at a panel during Advertising Week New York. “This is a fight about humanity, it is about our little boys and girls who are getting very deeply harmed. Some creative directors are lazy and pick up the sexist paintbrush, and say then 'yeah we do click bait sometimes', but until people become aware it’s hard to change.”
Badger & Winters earlier this year launched the #WomenNotObjects campaign in a bid to try to curtail sexism in advertising and has also vowed not to objectify women in any of its own work.
One brand that is hitting the mark with its gender inclusive campaign is Bud Light, which earlier this year launched the #budlightparty campaign that saw brand ambassadors Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan discuss equal pay. For a brand that has built itself on images of masculinity, the shift came when owner Anheuser-Busch realised that to drive bottom line results it needed to act on the growth the alcohol industry is seeing from female consumers.
“We are seeing huge shifts in alcohol, women are driving growth in the alcohol industry and I think for many years the alcohol industry has adopted the ‘pink it and shrink it’ philosophy and has also focussed predominantly on the female shopper so the mom who picks up groceries once a week and drives a truck but that has changed,” said Jodie Harris, vice president, strategy and insight Anheuser-Busch.
“The whole Bud Light campaign was around connecting people. In some cases, it was humorous, some more serious but it started to shine a lot of light on the issues that we see in the country and of course women’s roles is a big one, so I think inclusivity is where we need to go and the future of femvertising is going.”
Harris also admitted masculine imagery of the brewer’s brands has “overshadowed” a lot of the work it “should have been doing to address women”.