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How advertising around empowering women continues to change the game


By Haley Velasco, Freelance journalist

March 25, 2017 | 4 min read

As spectators walked by to see Wall Street’s infamous bull, the “Fearless Girl,” a statue created by McCann New York and its client, State Street Global Advisors, stared at them. That little girl, a symbol of female power and the call for women in leadership, made a statement.

Simply put, in 2017, consumers, and the brands that are looking to reach these consumers, have been paying more attention to women and advocating for women’s rights.

“As the Women’s Movement has evolved, it’s become clear that the personal is truly political. Millennial and younger women – the target of most advertising – aren’t shy about speaking out when they see injustice and when they see advertising that presents women as stereotypes,” said Hans Dorsinville, partner, EVP and group creative director at Laird + Partners. “They aren’t shy about punishing advertisers who cling to antiquated ideas. Organizations like Madonna Badger’s #WomenNotObjects have raised the consciousness of advertisers who are now moving toward portrayals of women that don’t perpetuate inaccurate and limited/narrow roles and attitudes.”

International Women’s Day on March 8 spurred a handful of campaigns around women’s rights and inspiring girls to excel. YouTube came out with their own video compilation, #HerVoiceIsMyVoice: Celebrate the Women Who Inspire Us Every Day, that showed scenes such as Ellen DeGeneres receiving her Presidential Medal of Freedom, women’s marches around the world, Condoleezza Rice, Malala Yousafzai and many more powerful women from around the world. Snapchat created International Women's Day lenses featuring Rosa Parks, Marie Curie and Frida Kahlo. Available for 24 hours, the lenses looked to honor the strong women during the 24 hours that they were available globally.

Lane Bryant has been one of the brands committed to empowering women. Through their “This Body” campaign, the brand took five plus size models: Ashley Graham, Precious Lee, Tara Lynn, Denise Bidot, and Georgia Pratt, to declare that women should be accepted for however they look.

“It’s our view that women aspire to be accepted as they are and to have their differences and their choices acknowledged and valued. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about body size and shape, skin color, hair, tattoos, piercings, you name it. Self-acceptance and societal acceptance should be givens. We can’t all be 5’10” and a size 0 but that shouldn’t define what is beautiful,” Dorsinville said. “The fact that Vogue has come around to this view says great things about where we’re going,”

In 2016, Lane Bryant partnered with Refinery29, Aerie, Getty Images and “Orange is the New Black” actor Danielle Brooks, to launch the 67% Project, an initiative aimed at accurately representing plus sized women in advertising and media. The concept came about because 67% of women in the US are size 14 or above but images representing those women make up less than 2% of images seen.

One of the iconic brands for young girls, Mattel’s Barbie, ended 2016 with their “You Can Be Anything” campaign. The 'You Can Be Anything' video starts off with, “What happens when girls are free to imagine they can be anything?” and then fades into young girls being professionals. From being a professor, veterinarian, soccer coach, a business woman to a museum tour guide, the young girls show off their talents while the adults go along with the whole thing.

“Women shouldn’t be expected to resort to extreme measures in order to conform to a pre-determined standard,” Dorsinville said.

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