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The Hypocrisy of Femvertising

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What is the impact on the fight for women's rights when advertisers use feminism in marketing campaigns, but fail to live up to the ideals? Is the exploitation of feminism in advertising dangerous?

Read more: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/marketing-trend-we-should-leave-behind-2018-faux-feminism-martell/

Many companies using feminist messaging in their ads are poor examples of these ideals internally - for example, paying millions in lawsuits for pay inequality and discrimination against women, or by perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards.

This not only creates an illusion of progress, it cheapens the movement for equal rights. It's lip service. There is a real and present danger to decades of progress in the feminist movement if we accept this trend of faux-feminism without holding companies accountable.

Published in: Marketing
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The Hypocrisy of Femvertising

  1. 1. The Hypocrisy of AKA the Exploitation of Feminism in Advertising @KatieMartell
  2. 2. There’s a new term in town.
  3. 3. Maybe you’ve heard it?
  4. 4. It’s a marketing trend that uses the ideals of feminism in advertising.
  5. 5. Feminism
  6. 6. Feminism + advertising
  7. 7. Feminism + advertising = Femvertising
  8. 8. You get the idea.
  9. 9. Here are a few examples.
  10. 10. Who knew three pounds of mascara and a blow out were required to win races.
  11. 11. Some femvertising ads feature familiar metaphors, like breaking the glass ceiling.
  12. 12. FYI…
  13. 13. KPMG is the subject of a $400M class-action lawsuit - Accounting Today, “KPMG Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Expands” May 13, 2016
  14. 14. KPMG is the subject of a $400M class-action lawsuit - Accounting Today, “KPMG Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Expands” May 13, 2016 alleging a pattern of gender discrimination, including
  15. 15. KPMG is the subject of a $400M class-action lawsuit - Accounting Today, “KPMG Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Expands” May 13, 2016 alleging a pattern of gender discrimination, including denying promotions to women, and penalizing them for taking maternity leave.
  16. 16. KPMG is the subject of a $400M class-action lawsuit - Accounting Today, “KPMG Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Expands” May 13, 2016 alleging a pattern of gender discrimination, including denying promotions to women, and penalizing them for taking maternity leave.
  17. 17. Other femvertising campaigns tackle common issues facing women,
  18. 18. Other femvertising campaigns tackle common issues facing women, like double standards in the workplace.
  19. 19. Apparently the best defense against sexist double standards in business is perfectly shampooed hair
  20. 20. Apparently the best defense against sexist double standards in business is perfectly shampooed hair and sexy heels.
  21. 21. Some of these ads feature relatable moments in the fight for pay equity.
  22. 22. BTW, the executive team at Secret’s parent company (P&G) is 75% male. P&G Leadership Team http://us.pg.com/who-we-are/leadership-team
  23. 23. BTW, the executive team at Secret’s parent company (P&G) is 75% male. P&G Leadership Team http://us.pg.com/who-we-are/leadership-team
  24. 24. This ad encourages women to stop apologizing:
  25. 25. Ladies, don’t say sorry.
  26. 26. Oh, but be sure to continue spending $426 billion a year on beauty products to look hot at work. Ladies, don’t say sorry.
  27. 27. Oh, but be sure to continue spending $426 billion a year on beauty products to look hot at work. Ladies, don’t say sorry.
  28. 28. Oh, but be sure to continue spending $426 billion a year on beauty products to look hot at work. That’s $141 billion more than your male colleagues. Ladies, don’t say sorry.
  29. 29. Oh, but be sure to continue spending $426 billion a year on beauty products to look hot at work. That’s $141 billion more than your male colleagues. And on average you make 79 cents to their dollar. Ladies, don’t say sorry.
  30. 30. Oh, but be sure to continue spending $426 billion a year on beauty products to look hot at work. That’s $141 billion more than your male colleagues. And on average you make 79 cents to their dollar. Ladies, don’t say sorry. (If you’re white.)
  31. 31. Oh, but be sure to continue spending $426 billion a year on beauty products to look hot at work. That’s $141 billion more than your male colleagues.) And on average you make 79 cents to their dollar.) Ladies, don’t say sorry. (If you’re white.)
  32. 32. Did you see this ad during the superbowl?
  33. 33. So cute, right?
  34. 34. (Audi has no female board members.)
  35. 35. (Audi has no female board members.)
  36. 36. But there’s one ad that started it all.
  37. 37. “Campaign for Real Beauty” from Dove / Ogilvy & Mather
  38. 38. This campaign was praised heavily for its empowering message for women.
  39. 39. It was radical.
  40. 40. 30X The buzz about the campaign drove 30X more exposure than paid media space.
  41. 41. And, sales at Dove grew from $2.5B - $4B in the decade after the campaign launched.
  42. 42. Big $ucce$$ for the brand.
  43. 43. The company continues to cash in on the trend, recently running a campaign in the UK equating women’s bodies to bottles.
  44. 44. It was less successful.
  45. 45. “I’ve yet to meet the woman honored and celebrated by plastic bottles on supermarket shelves." - Ruth Mortimer, Marketing Week
  46. 46. “Dove, I have arms, please advise.” - Rachel Handler, Twitter
  47. 47. “Have you ever been in the shower, picked up your smooth, perfect soap container and screamed ‘I CAN’T LIVE UP TO THESE STANDARDS!’” - Aimee Lutkin, Jezebel
  48. 48. Look, I appreciate what Dove has done to get “real women real beauty” into the public narrative.
  49. 49. But here’s the problem.
  50. 50. But here’s the problem. These story arcs are only used when convenient.
  51. 51. Unilever
  52. 52. Unilever (Dove’s parent company)
  53. 53. Unilever (Dove’s parent company) also owns Axe body spray
  54. 54. Unilever (Dove’s parent company) also owns Axe body spray known for ads like this:
  55. 55. And my favorite ->
  56. 56. One that literally reduced women to a pair of breasts.
  57. 57. One that literally reduced women to a pair of breasts.
  58. 58. Same company. Conflicting stories.
  59. 59. Let’s call a spade a spade.
  60. 60. This is feminist when convenient.
  61. 61. This is feminist as an afterthought.
  62. 62. This is feminist as an answer to the age-old question:
  63. 63. This is feminist as an answer to the age-old question: “How do we sell more products to women?”
  64. 64. Even the campaign that recently made feminist headlines is not exactly innocent.
  65. 65. Yes, Fearless Girl.
  66. 66. Commissioned by State Street Global Advisors, this was a move to coincide with International Womens Day.
  67. 67. This statue of a young girl was placed in front of Wall Street’s Charging Bull in Manhattan’s Financial District
  68. 68. According to the company, it was meant to celebrate “the power of women in leadership” and “raise awareness about "gender diversity" in corporate leadership.
  69. 69. (I loved this campaign, too. But…)
  70. 70. KPMG is the subject of a State Street is paying out $5 million to settle allegations it paid female and black executives at the firm less than their white, male counterparts. Chicago Tribune, “Firm behind Fearless Girl statue to pay $5 million settlement for underpaying female execs” October 6 2017
  71. 71. KPMG is the subject of a The company also boasts a leadership team that is 82% male and nearly entirely white.
  72. 72. So, what’s happening here?
  73. 73. Let’s unpack this a bit.
  74. 74. Our marketing industry defines femvertising as: “harnessing feminism in advertising” “advertising that employs pro-female talent, messages and imagery to empower women and girls” or
  75. 75. There’s even an industry award to celebrate femvertising, organized by a company who helps advertisers reach women.
  76. 76. “52% of women have bought a product because they liked how the ad for it portrayed women” They’ve done studies claiming consumers want femvertising: “43 percent said it made them feel good about supporting the brand” -SheKnows Media
  77. 77. Generally, it’s clear why brands deploy these types of campaigns.
  78. 78. It’s a byproduct of our time. We live in a polarized world, and share content that reflects our POV, or supports ideals we care about.
  79. 79. Ads have historically created new insecurities. Jean Kilbourne– Killing Us Softly
  80. 80. These, on the surface, reflect ideals of equality. Of course we want to share them, and celebrate them.
  81. 81. But, behind every great femvertising campaign, is a living breathing woman at that company who is likely not getting paid the same as her male colleagues.
  82. 82. National Partnership for Women & Families, America’s Women and the Wage Gap, April 2017 Today, black women are typically paid 63 cents and Latinas just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
  83. 83. Another fun fact:
  84. 84. Only 11% of creative directors in advertising are women. The world’s six top ad groups are run by men.
  85. 85. I believe in the power of marketing.
  86. 86. And that’s why I’m so vocal about this.
  87. 87. And that’s why I’m so vocal about this. There is a real and present danger to feminism if we accept this trend of femvertising without holding companies accountable.
  88. 88. And that’s why I’m so vocal about this. There is a real and present danger to feminism if we accept this trend of femvertising without holding companies accountable.
  89. 89. And that’s why I’m so vocal about this. There is a real and present danger to feminism if we accept this trend of femvertising without holding companies accountable.
  90. 90. And that’s why I’m so vocal about this. There is a real and present danger to feminism if we accept this trend of femvertising without holding companies accountable.
  91. 91. And that’s why I’m so vocal about this. There is a real and present danger to feminism if we accept this trend of femvertising without holding companies accountable.
  92. 92. “When is a movement not a movement? When it’s a marketing campaign in a movement’s clothing.” - Mari Brighe, Daily Dot
  93. 93. Companies have started to profit from these ideals while embodying the opposite.
  94. 94. We cannot become complacent at this disconnect.
  95. 95. We cannot become complacent at this hypocrisy.
  96. 96. We cannot become complacent at this lip service.
  97. 97. Pioneering activist Jean Kilbourne once asked…
  98. 98. What is the impact of advertising on women?
  99. 99. For decades, she has researched ads like this:
  100. 100. Jean found that the effects of ads are subconscious.
  101. 101. Jean found that the effects of ads are subconscious. Many of us don’t believe we’re affected by them.
  102. 102. Yet there is a direct correlation between ads like this
  103. 103. Yet there is a direct correlation between ads like this and a culture that abuses women.
  104. 104. “Ads sell more than products. They sell normalcy.” - Jean Kilbourne
  105. 105. So, with this rise in femvertising, I ask:
  106. 106. So, with this rise in femvertising, I ask: What is the impact of advertising on feminism?
  107. 107. What is the impact on the fight for women’s equality when companies use feminist messaging in their marketing – but don’t live up to these ideals?
  108. 108. This redefines feminism in a dangerous way.
  109. 109. This redefines feminism in a dangerous way. It diminishes it to a tagline.
  110. 110. This redefines feminism in a dangerous way. It diminishes it to a tagline. It dumbs it down to a hashtag.
  111. 111. This redefines feminism in a dangerous way. It diminishes it to a tagline. It dumbs it down to a hashtag. It cheapens it.
  112. 112. Femvertising “takes the edge off” feminism a word whose meaning has been twisted and lost.
  113. 113. This trend makes a difficult reality more palatable.
  114. 114. It’s known as “pink-washing” or “soft-feminism.”
  115. 115. We don't need feminist advertising.
  116. 116. We need companies to hire more women.
  117. 117. We need companies to hire more women. We need more women in leadership roles.
  118. 118. We need companies to hire more women. We need more women in leadership roles. We need diverse hiring practices.
  119. 119. We need companies to hire more women. We need more women in leadership roles. We need diverse hiring practices. We need to train our employees for bias.
  120. 120. We need companies to hire more women. We need more women in leadership roles. We need diverse hiring practices. We need to train our employees for bias. We need to pay women for equal work.
  121. 121. That’s real progress.
  122. 122. These ads are nothing but lip service.
  123. 123. Let’s start calling them what they are.
  124. 124. Faux-FeminismThe exploitation of feminism by advertising.
  125. 125. Feminism The (radical) idea that women should be treated equally to men. (noun)
  126. 126. Advertising Paid announcement meant to sell product.(noun)
  127. 127. Exploitation Taking advantage of someone to benefit from their work.(noun)
  128. 128. Faux-feminism contributes to an illusion of progress in marketing to women.
  129. 129. This type of advertising tricks us into thinking society is more progressive than it truly is.
  130. 130. "Men are more likely to think the workplace is equitable; women see a workplace that is less fair and offers less support.” – McKinsey & Company
  131. 131. It creates “diversity blind spots.”
  132. 132. We can’t solve problems that we don’t see or understand clearly.
  133. 133. By accepting these illusions of support, we send a message to corporations that they can cash in on feminism.
  134. 134. BETTY FRIEDANGLORIA STEINEMELEANOR ROOSEVELT BELL HOOKSSIMONE DE BEAUVIOR We can’t reduce decades of real effort down to a marketing tagline.
  135. 135. Especially not today, a critical time for this movement to be taken seriously.
  136. 136. So, where do we go from here?
  137. 137. I would like to propose some "rules of engagement" for using feminism in your marketing efforts.
  138. 138. A handy checklist to tell if you’re ready to use feminism in your marketing:
  139. 139. A handy checklist to tell if you’re ready to use feminism in your marketing: ü You are a model for women’s equality.
  140. 140. A handy checklist to tell if you’re ready to use feminism in your marketing: ü You are a model for women’s equality. ü You put your money where your mouth is.
  141. 141. A handy checklist to tell if you’re ready to use feminism in your marketing: ü You are a model for women’s equality. ü You put your money where your mouth is. ü You walk the talk.
  142. 142. It’s simple, really.
  143. 143. If you’re not ready to hold your company up to the standards of feminism, don’t exploit feminism in your marketing.
  144. 144. THINK HARD before attaching your brand to things that matter way more than your brand ever could. - Doug Kessler, Creative Director, Velocity
  145. 145. Do better.
  146. 146. Thank you for reading. @KatieMartell

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