Empowering Girls & Women through Adverts?

Today I came across another empowering advert for women and girls. It seems that the trend is growing year by year with more and more brands jumping on the bandwagon.

Some people criticise the trend by labelling companies as hypocrite (“they are trying to sell beauty products/wax and raisors to shave our bodies after all!”). But isn’t wonderful to see this type of empowering messages promoted by adverts instead of the usual “fix yourself -be this or that” stuff?

At the very least these adverts diversify the range of images and role models available to girls and from my point of view this could be the start of a gradual change taking place…if we start to reward the companies sending this type of messages instead of criticising them under the “hypocrisy label”, more and more of them will follow and the entire advertising landscape could gradually transform into something more real and inspiring than the fake beauty images currently surrounding us: it makes perfect sense.

Check out the full playlist of empowering adverts here and don’t forget to comment!


30 thoughts on “Empowering Girls & Women through Adverts?

  1. I personally LOVE the Venus advert and I agree with you, we need more and more companies jumping on board. Dove made a good start a few years ago and now it’s not difficult to imagine a gradual shift towards more empowered and diverse representations of women and gender in general. I don’t see why anybody would criticise such a good effort. BTW just wondering… does the fact that I shave unwanted hair from my legs and armpits really have something to do with empowerment? :-/

    • Oh I love the Dove commericals! They use real women of all different ages. They are just as or probably never more beautiful then all the photoshopped people in commericals. I love that companies are realizing this and maybe it’s the first step into something even better. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!!

  2. Thanks for posting the playlist, wow! I didn’t notice it before but there seems to be a definite trend going on…exciting if you ask me! I will show the playlist to my 2 daughters, they are both in their early teens and really into sport, but I can see that the 14 years old is now more concerned with her appearance compared to previous years and to me all this is a bit of an alien territory as I’ve never used make-up or dressed particularly fashionably. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with wanting to look a certain way or playing with your looks/fashion/makeup if a girl see it as fun thing to do, but the idea of what’s beautiful in the media should be a lot more diverse and I think adverts can make a huge difference in this sense.

  3. Perhaps it’s my complete cynical perspective, but my problem with empowering women through adverts isn’t the message, it’s the delivery system. If you need advertisements to feel empowered you are already losing the battle. Then again, it’s not a negative message so I can get behind it. Yet, at the back of my head I’m a little suspicious of any advertising because ultimately it’s using copy to sell you a product, and that’s their bottom line. They’ll use empowerment if they have to, but ultimately it’s about what pushes product the best.

    • I don’t necessarily think all adverts like the ones above are just copy to sell product. After all, big brands like Venus, Dove and Always have products that are so popular they will sell themselves. I think these companies didn’t have to start these campaigns and they should be applauded for their efforts. It’s good PR for them, yes, but I think they have a genuine message they want to show the world too. 🙂

      • I agree with you, Jackie!
        A company needs to sell their products to keep itself alive and profitable, anyway. So they need to advertise their products too. And at this point they have to choose what kind of advertisement to create for their products.

        Creating an advertisement which comes with a positive message and actually inspires people is indeed applaud-worthy, in my opinion!

        After all, even if it is hypocritical, the positive message still gets through and people are still benefited by it!

  4. I get what Michael is saying on his post, but I’m sure he realizes how there are more people on a myriad of devices and those devices will have ads on them, one way or another. And yes, it is a commercial for their brand, but as a mother to ONLY girls, I will go with the brands that have a positive message for the young women in today’s society. I already use some of their products, but when I see messages like these, it makes me happy. The Venus one tells young girls they can be a mix of characteristics, not JUST be “girly” or “tomboyish”…..as a lot of young girls are at the ages between 10-16. It tells them it’s okay, and though we tell our kids that, as we all know as parents, they are also influenced by outside factors. Kudos to all the companies that are trying to make it easier for girls to make the transition from childhood into womanhood.

    • I completely agree with you Ann. I’ve been using Venus razors for years, way before they started this movement. And now I love them even more for it. As a young woman with a little daughter, I think the message Venus is sending is powerful and should be shared.

  5. This is a really useful playlist. To me, I find advertisements like this slightly suspect. I appreciate the message, but they’re clearly also just trying to make money. In my opinion, we’re not going to be free from oppressive forces until we’re out of this capitalistic system. So, even if the tone of the messages that girls are hearing changes, the rich and powerful are still profiting off of us. We should question why it’s so important for us to have positive advertisements. What is this power that advertising and the media has over us?

  6. I think it’s great that various companies are producing ads that are meant to be more empowering for girls and women. I don’t think it’s fair to view them as hypocritical. These companies have products that they are selling, that is their primary purpose. I just think it’s nice to see them taking a little different avenue. They’re not pushing a look that is “fake” but more real in my opinion. I personally would never want to have unshaved legs…not because of what other people would think but because I like feeling smooth and soft, not prickly and itchy!

  7. The problem is that adverts like these are still so few and far between that their message become inevitably “diluted” among the myriad of other adverts telling girls that looks and sexiness is everything. We need more companies to play this game, but I suspect it’s not in their interest to make people confident and secure in themselves…at the basis of every advert there is an insecurity/need instigated which supposedly will make the customer buy the product. However, you might be right Francesca…we may well witness a gradual change towards new ideas of gender and beauty in the future as everything is cyclic in society. I would definitely welcome a world and media with more flexibility and diversity, valuing and appreciating the wonderful variety of being and cultures…we may get there in the end if we keep our voices strong about these issues. Thanks for the work you do, as a father of 3 little girls I really appreciate your content and campaigning and will be following you closely! 😉

  8. In all honesty, I think we have to look at celebrities and how they portray themselves to young girls. We see super skinny supermodels that wear size 0 and are unhealthy. Teenage girls mimic these behaviors and want to be like them, but it’s the parents that must step in and take these girls aside, teaching them healthy habits. They have to realize that if they are not a size 0 then they are still powerful and still beautiful. Hollywood portrays bad self-image views for these impressionable teens. No teenage girl (or woman for that matter) should look in the mirror and see a fat body when they are perfectly healthy. Hollywood needs to change its ways and we, America, need to make our voice much louder towards it. It’s the only way that things are going to change and our children will benefit from it if we take this stand.

  9. I’m all for any kind of media that aims to empower women, especially outside of the generic, mainstream mold. However you’re absolutely right that there’s often a certain hypocrisy behind it. This article made me think of all those Dove’s body positivity ads that have been cropping up over the last few years. The main message is an admirable one: to encourage women to embrace their own body type, regardless of pop culture standards. And yet Dove is owned by Unilever, the same company that makes those vile, mysogynistic, hypersexualised Axe Body Spray ads. In the end, advertising is still just about making money.

  10. I really want to believe that these ads are motivated by an honest desire to empower girls and women in general. Even though these movements have been popping up more nowadays than before, there still needs to be more. With T.V. shows like Toddlers and Tiaras as well as hyper-feminized Barbie dolls/Barbie TV shows still brainwashing younger girls these days, big brand names should use their influence to change public opinion as often as they can.
    I don’t think these ads are necessarily done just for good PR or to push product. After all, Venus, Always, Dove, these are all HUGE brand names. People would buy their products anyway, with or without the empowerment ads. I think now that I’ve seen some of these commercials, I feel like there’s a glimmer of hope in the world today. At least big brands aren’t just sitting behind their big desks reaping in profits. They genuinely want to give back to the community by telling real stories. I’m not a feminist but I do support women’s rights and I think their message is a valid one that deserves all the publicity they can get.

  11. I absolutely endorse these companies using pro-woman messages to promote their products. Some people call it hypocritical, yet I have a hard time seeing what’s wrong with using a positive message to sell a product.

    Too often, companies try to sell their products by making us believe we have a problem they can fix. Do a google search for Seventeen Magazine… what are the cover headlines being delivered to the young and impressionable?

    “Get Your Best Body Now”
    “Pretty Hair and Perfect Skin in Minutes”
    “Boost Your Bra Size in 1 Month”

    All of these are advertisements for products, but more than that, they’re messages that impact the mindset of women, young and old. If we encouraged a change in trend that told businesses women respond to being encouraged, uplifted and empowered, we could initiate a change that alters the way society views women, and how women view themselves.

    I’m 27, but I’ve spent the last 7 years in the writing industry. I’m a journalist, an author and a marketing copywriter. I’ve seen firsthand the power of a good narrative, and how they influence our perceptions. The voice behind media and marketing is powerful and persuasive.

    What we’re seeing now is our chance to change the trend.

    -Elizabeth Carlton

  12. I particularly love the Always commercial. Having myself a daughter, I am wandering why in 2015 we keep having those difference of treatment and view between genders. Being a woman is something to be proud of, to celebrate and value. I am proud to “cry like a girl” because this is who I am.
    It is unacceptable that being a woman is still a discriminatory status when considered for a job! Why do we have to prove we can work like a man? Does a man has to show he can work as good as a woman? Don’t think so!
    Being a woman is awesome!

    Sam 🙂

  13. As a consumer, I’d like to tell marketing designers that these type of commercials are so much more powerful and convincing to me than their counterparts. I absolutely will not purchase any product from a commercial that makes someone (man, woman or child) look stupid. For example that bikini razor they have out right now with the women trimming the topiary in front of them. Disgusting. And the one a few years ago with that woman in the tub trying to shave her legs and the razor is slipping and flying out of the tub…who do these marketing guys think we are? And why would they think we would buy their product after insulting us?
    This collection of commercials you’ve shown here are top of the line and I would happily purchase anything they are selling. Young people are watching and learning from society and, like your blog mentions, they are looking for themselves in media presentations, a way to relate and a way to fit into society. If the presentation is degrading, they will also see themselves and develop low self esteem.
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  14. I remember seeing the Always ad on my TV recently. It made me smile. I felt relief. It was as if someone understood. I am very tom-boyish. I love to throw the football, am into cars and would rather lift weights than do cardio at the gym. I always deal with these issues – from my friends, family, strangers – from everyone. Just yesterday, I was “celebrated” for “being a girl who drives a stick shift”. I’m sure the guy felt as if he were complimenting me … but in my mind, I thought: Isn’t that normal? … For people to drive manuals? … Not just boys … Girls too! … It’s a PEOPLE thing. People drive manuals! I applaud Always (and other participating companies) for acknowledging the issue. They didn’t have to. No one made them do it. They will sell products regardless. I’m just glad they took a stand.

  15. I think ads have a huge impact on culture. Most young people don’t understand that a brand is just trying to sell a product but it’s the repeated messages that we hear over and over again that gets embedded into our minds and consciousness. We remember because we see advertisements (and images) constantly, all around us, not just on TV or our computers but on our phones, our tablets, our bus stops, and so many other places as well.

    I think it’s important that we are not only conscious consumers but we also advocate and insist that companies be more socially responsible. Always, Dove and many other businesses have realized that they are indeed a cultural catalyst in our society. We remember their ads; we sing their jingles and we often aspire to their images. Companies who are committed to more than just their bottom lines are realizing that they can make ads that inspire us or continue to make ads that just “sell” us. Inspiration usually lasts, is much more memorable and further in a consumer’s mind than your average sales pitch. It speaks to who we are as human beings. It touches our humanity.

    We have to begin to think broader and make sure young girls and boys know that we live in a limitless world, despite all of the naysayers and the others who would love to keep us collectively and neatly “in a box.” These messages of possibility cannot be said or shouted enough. Often times, because of our race, our class or our gender, we are judged (or boxed) before we have been given the chance to dream. I support all of our rights as humans to dream and to be…..

    I applaud these company’s efforts to strive to appeal to the best in us, to the best in our girls and I do believe that all of our positive actions will pay off and make a difference!

  16. These companies are trying to sell products (it’s all about the money, after all) however I sincerely appreciated the effort they make to send a positive message to women and girls. That’s there target audience, regardless, and instead of telling them, “you need to buy our stuff to be sexy because all your good for is your body. if a man isn’t attracted to you, you’re worthless” and instead tell you “you’re beautiful. this is what real women look like.” with a side note of “real women buy our products”, truthfully I would rather spend my money with that company. I realize that’s their aim, but if in the end there’s also a shift in society’s views, then I would definitely not consider it a waste of money.
    I would 100% rather see a Dove or U by Kotex commercial than an Axe or Bod commercial, I will say that for sure! 😉

  17. I for one have to take the more realistic approach here. Advertisement is there for a reason. Each year there is a new campaign and a new brainstorming session on how to market products. Advertisements have fad’s just as the fashion industry and food industries do. Although I love to see big corporations step down a notch and try to put themselves on the average persons level, in the big picture they fail. As a female, having insecure tendencies no matter the level of inspiration, do not believe these stunning girls in these commercials embody your average woman. As the stunt woman proclaims, “sometimes they won’t let me do certain stunts because they think I’m too pretty.” “Puke,” is the only thought that came to mind. Before the next person suggests I’m jealous let me explain. If you want to empower girls, women – those that NEED empowerment. You’ll place before them the underdog, the one that shouldn’t/couldn’t succeed and did. Not the girl who is so pretty she can’t convince her employer to let her do a stunt. Regardless I’m an average American, I won’t be purchasing razors because of how the company wooed me with there commercials. I’ll be buying them based on: first my income, second how sharp they are. End of story.

  18. I think it’s admirable of these companies to take a stand for more diversity in what women can and do achieve and Dove’s dedication to “real” women has been extremely empowering, but I can’t help but scoff when women’s beauty products still cost a significant amount more than men’s (http://www.businessinsider.com/womens-products-more-expensive-than-mens-2015-4). I love that we are encouraging women to stop pitting themselves against each other, but when will start asserting that femininity is equal to masculinity? When will it mean that women are equal to men? When will it mean that a woman can be anything – girly included? It’s a hard balance, but I think the #likeagirlcampaign is really on to something. It forces us to wonder what does being a girl really mean? A girl can be a multitude of things, and it’s always something to be proud of. But why can’t a girl like to be pretty and fashionable? Why can’t a girl like to not shave and wear flannel? Can’t a girl be everything in between? There needs to be a balance that says women can have the freedom that men do. I love hearing the challenges to our limited allowance. I hope these campaigns turn in to something more tangible, like equal pricing and non-pink options and saying it’s okay to not shave. I hope it’s not just talk and a campaign stunt.

  19. I think these type of adverts still have a long way to go! That being said, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

    And I must wonder…is this a case of “any press is good press?” They want people talking, and that is definitely what has been happening! From blog posts to news articles to youtube comments, these companies are making a splash. Their brand is being talked about and so is their product. I think this has been an overall win, despite some negativity.

    On a personal level, I really enjoy that I am seeing more and more racial diversity in women’s adverts. Growing up, I felt like the vast majority of women in adverts were the typical white and blonde types. Nothing wrong with white and blonde of course, but when you are NOT white and blonde…..well, it’s finally nice seeing more women who look like you! More diversity means more women feeling included and enticed to by the product, rather than feeling excluded and saying to themselves, “That product is obviously not for someone like me.”

  20. I must say, I absolutely loved the video playlist of all the commercials. Some I have seen before, however others like the first video from ALWAYS I hadn’t before. I remember being told at a young age that I couldn’t do this or that because it was “boyish” or it was a “guy’s job”. By watching the video, not much has really changed, except that now young girls can see, hear, and learn about female role models and what they have accomplished as women.

    Now that I’m older, I’m grateful that I have gone back and learned “boy” things. I can change a tire, mow the lawn, change my own car’s oil, and much more. I even have had to show my husband a few things, since he never had to do “maintenance” work growing up. I think it’s so important to teach the younger generation that they are capable of doing anything. That they are beautiful and perfect just the way they are. To not limit yourself based on what the world says.

    This article and the videos spoke to me so much that I just had to share it on my Facebook page.
    Can’t wait to see what women will do in the future!

  21. I agree with you! I think that criticizing these companies for being “hypocritical” is going a bit overboard. If we express gratitude to these companies who are showing a more positive view of women, empowering and encouraging women to be themselves, then more companies will also send out those types of messages. I personally wish more ads were seen on TV and in print media like these on your playlist.

  22. It warms my heart seeing these types of ads on TV now. I love that the Venus ad tries to highlight that girls aren’t defined to one role. They are athletes, they are musicians – the options are limitless. Focusing on diversity instead of labels is such a powerful thing. I’m excited to continue to see big companies like this use real women instead of a specific type. Even if they’re just making the ads to seem more relatable and sell a product, the young girls that see them aren’t going to know the difference. Its going to make them feel inspired just the same.

  23. I wholeheartedly support campaigns such as these. I’m 31 now and in my 20s, I felt subconsciously boxed in to particular personality traits. I can only imagine what teenage girls who are saturated with media images in the current landscape, have to endure. Thankfully, hitting 30 really empowered me to embrace every facet of my persona and I hope females, young and old recognize that they don’t have to sacrifice who they are to fit into a box and label.

  24. Wow! Some of these ads are pretty powerful and speak to the experience of being a woman or girl. I really like the Always #likeagirl campaign, I hadn’t seen the first one in that playlist before.
    I recently saw a video with the hashtag #womennotobjects showing the objectification of women in advertising.
    I definitely think ads like the ones in this post are necessary in a world where so much advertising uses women’s bodies to sell products. I think having positive messages that empower women and help women of all shapes and sizes feel beautiful is a way to combat them.
    Although it feels like these ads are being created by brands that sell products- Venus, Dove, Always- the focus on the ads doesn’t seem to be about the products they sell, it seems to be about celebrating women. I love seeing the diversity in Dove’s ads, would be great to see women of all shapes and sizes represented in more traditional advertising from products like Venus and Always too!

  25. This is nice, you’ve found a way to look at it in a very different perspective which I admire. I’m gonna be honest, I’m one of those who thinks that they’re a sort of hypocrite for continuously showing all those products and giving you the message to fix yourself. But you’re right, why not encourage them in showing adverts that empower women instead, show the community that that is what we want and maybe, these companies will start to change for the better.

  26. With todays “beauty ideal” the companies sell best when they have adverts with girls that are more attractive or how you should say it “sexy”.
    It makes me very happy to see these kind of adverts where they show a positive view of women/girls and when they empower and encourage them to just be themselves. If more companies follow this trend I think that the views of women and how women feel will gradually improve.

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