Empowering Women Through Ads

Lydia Sidrys, News Editor

Typically, Gender Based Marketing has been used to highlight images and ideas of the different preferences of men and women. While this form of marketing certainly exists in our world today, a new form of gender marketing is on the rise: a form that uses modern images and ideas to give confidence to women and girls through female role models and empowering messages. These campaigns have been done by a variety of companies who stray from the idea that gender based marketing must be oppressive, and hope to accredit women through their marketing campaigns.

Dove, H&M, Sport England, and Microsoft are among the leading brands and corporations using marketing campaigns for good. Each one takes a different approach to empower women through their marketing methods, defying gender stereotypes and promoting feminism in the realm where society gets brand information: advertisements.

Dove created one of the first major emboldening gender marketing campaigns in their “Real Beauty” Ads of 2013. This video campaign sought to highlight and address the issue of the unattainable beauty standards for women, and the pressure women face to look a certain way. This was a moving ad that highlighted the differences between two images of the same women: the first was a portrait of the woman describing herself, and the second was a portrait of someone else describing her. This ad highlighted how women tend to see themselves in a negative light, seeking to change the discussion from negative talk to positive regarding the pressure of beauty standards that women face.

Dove continued this fight against the negative self image that women have of themselves in a 2016 visual piece. In the “Speak Beautiful” campaign, Dove partnered with twitter to suggest ways women can change the discussion from negative self talk to positive. Dove highlighted that most times, the harshest judge of a woman’s beauty is the woman herself, and encouraged women to look at themselves in a more positive light. This campaign proved to be an instrumental part of the ongoing fight against negative self talk online.

H&M’s 2016 “She’s a Lady” ad uses different images of women to redefine how society thinks women should look, act, think, and stand in society. H&M cleverly used Tom Jones’ 1970’s hit “She’s a Lady” about how a woman should act and defined it with modern images and clips of women. The women H&M used in the ad were not supermodels, rather they were an accurate depiction of the average woman. This ad shows that all women are marvelous and should be celebrated by society. The ad had an amazing effect on society, as it not only empowered women and girls, but also encouraged other companies, such as Microsoft and Always, to take part in confident ads and marketing campaigns to broadcast to the world.

Sport England’s 2015 campaign “This Girl Can” encouraged women and girls to exercise and participate in sports free of judgment. The ad not only encouraged women and girls to become more active, it also highlighted the rise of female sports stars. The ad campaign by Sport England redefined what it meant for women to be athletic. Instead of viewing it as something “masculine,” Sport England made it something uniquely feminine and empowering. This ad campaign touched the hearts of many Britains, and as a result, encouraged many Britons to become more athletic.

Finally, Microsoft used marketing and advertisements to encourage more women to go into STEM field. Due to the lack of women compared to men entering these fields, Microsoft launched the “Girls Do Science” campaign in 2015, followed by the “#MakeWhatsNext” campaign in 2017. Both of those campaigns seek to encourage girls to study science, math, engineering, and technology, proving that women are just as qualified as men to tackle these difficult fields. The videos made my Microsoft show a variety of girls speaking about the problems that they are passionate about solving through the STEM fields, encouraging other girls to enter these fields as well.

While marketing  has been used to make girls feel like they need to act and look a certain way, the recent ad campaigns by these companies highlight that marketing can be used to further women’s rights. All of these ads have greatly inspired women and girls by providing them with role models and allowing them to see that they can do whatever they want. Empowering women creates stronger women and a stronger society; these corporations have used ads to show that women are just as empowered and as capable as men are to make a real difference in the world.