Trend Spot - `IF SHE'S
CRYING, SHE'S BUYING'
ARE BRANDS USING FEMVERTISING TO EMPOWER OR
MANIPULATE THE FEMALE CONSUMER?
Boardrooms that once echoed with financial jargon are now abuzz with phrases
like'Gender Equality,' `Emancipation,' and `Girl Power,' it would seem. What else could
possibly explain the barrage of women-empowerment plotlines doing the rounds in
advertising?Since brand consultants and enthusiasts are often described as brand cynics,
we decided to ask a layperson to recollect a few such ads. Sulakshana Sharma from Ajmer,
a housewife, had a list: “The one in which they show a bald woman, that one in which a
boss is clipping her subordinate's wings just because she's expecting a baby, the one in
which the girl's family demands the groom-to-be to learn culinary skills, and there are
some in which they portray women who like women.
“We could be wrong here, but our guess is she's talking about the Dabur Vatika
#BraveAndBeautiful video that salutes women who fought cancer; Anouk's `Bold and
Beautiful' ad featuring Radhika Apte; Biba's `Change is Beautiful' video; and Fastrack's
closet ad that took a progressive stance on homosexuality . She could also be referring to
Skore condoms' latest ad featuring a woman frisking another at a security check and
catching her with a pack of condoms, but the brand says the ad isn't about promoting
homosexuality so we won't wield the gavel on this one just yet.
`CLITT: Core Lady Insecurity to Target'
Canadian independent agency John St. created a parody video last November that best
explains the sudden influx of fem powering ads. According to the video, most of these ads
are being pro duced in bulk especially post the success of Dove's Real Beauty Sketches (a
campaign that indicates that beauty lies in the eyes of the be holder and if the beholder of
your beauty is someone else, chances are you're more beautiful than you think).Also P&G's
#LikeAGirl campaign created for its feminine hygiene product line `Always'. So, now there's
an underserved market for ads that exploit female insecurities but in a nicer way, so
women feel empowered instead. To cater to this market, the agency announced the launch
of a sister agency Jane St. that'll help brands `find out how they can benefit from female
The agency even came up with a C-LITT (Core Lady Insecurity to Target) Model that helps
their team `hone in on the most sensitive area to target the message of empowerment'.
Since most of these emancipatory ads tend to let loose the lachrymal glands, `If she's
crying, she's buying,' is one of the golden rules the agency's planning team will adhere to.
End objective: Expand the `girl power' market.
The `Girl Power' Marketers
Some brands have no qualms in accepting their inclination towards femvertising,
brand connect notwithstanding. Abhishek Verma, head of Myntra Fashion Brands,
had previously told BE: “A year from now we would like to be known as a brand
that stands for freedom of women.“ This was after it released two campaigns in a
row that touched upon issues of homosexuality and gender discrimination at work.
Hemal Panchamia, marketing head of Fastrack, feels that while their campaigns end
up contributing to the cause of women empowerment, their basic philosophy is to
speak the truth and not ride on the fempowering bandwagon just because it's the
People can see through such brands, he feels.“By showcasing homosexuality or
showing women being unapologetic about unshaven armpits, we are just telling
our TG what the reality of their generation is, something most people don't have
the guts to speak about. We're not professing or rejecting any lifestyle,“ he says.
On its recent ad showing a woman caught with a pack of condoms, Vishal Vyas,
general manager marketing, Skore Condoms, says the brand didn't intend to push
the women empowerment agenda. “We are a 3-year-old brand that needs to
disrupt the sexual communication landscape to get noticed. Condom brands have
always talked about being a male product. But women are increasingly becoming a
great influence in the urban market. That's what we wanted to capitalise on,“ he
Pockets of audience have alleged the ad depicts lesbianism but Vyas denies
it.“Patting down when you're being frisked during security check happens like that,“
he clarifies. However, Somesh Mehta, a software engineer based in Noida, thinks
the video is meant to convert men with lesbian fantasies into Skore buyers, and has
nothing to do with women empowerment. Both of them agree on one thing at
least. That's probably because an ad with a potential of empowering women to go
buy condoms failed on the execution front.
So, what's wrong with riding the Femvertising
There's nothing wrong with hopping on the Crisis du jour Express. Except that if
there's no brand connect or intent to sustain the message beyond the ad, it ends
up mocking the idea of women empowerment first, and denuding the brand image
eventually. While the likes of Anouk are yet to prove how well femvertising can
work, brands like Skore aren't able to score positive points for progressive display of
women because of shabby execution.
Where they plan to go via the femvertising route is a question brands ought to ask
of themselves. As ÅskWäppling (aka Dabitch), founder of ad portal adland.tv, points
out: `Will keep you dry' is a promise a sanitary napkins brand can keep. `Will let you
win the Olympics because you're a powerful woman,' is not. Aspirational is one
thing, but promising societal changes due to product use is not right -unless the
brand is into fair trade, water saving, donating to research, planting trees or
otherwise actively doing something other than making advertising. Not to mention
how most of these ads are only high on plot recall and not brand recall, as is
evident from Mrs. Sharma's list.
Are consumers calling the bluff?
Hardly . Or the tsunami of femvertising would've ended by now. “It's pure
boardroom nitpicking. Consumers are happily buying into it. It's an overkill
for us agencies, perhaps,“ says Pallavi Chakravarti, senior creative director at
Taproot India. Soon we'll see motor oil ads sold with a # L i ke AG i rl h a s h t
a g , s ay s Adland's Dabitch. There are women and men working in
advertising who have made it not only their mission, but also their genre and
a source of income to keep femvertising going. There are seminars,
workshops, conferences and research being made and sold to other
advertisers, touting the need for women in every position and empowering
women in every ad. The only thing that could possible topple the trend is the
rise of Dadvertising, she feels. Attention Men! Your insecurities are next on
the dartboard. After all, the consumer never minds being celebrated. But is
that celebration a sustainable model to keep them hooked onto your
For Details and Appointment contact:-
Parveen Kumar Chadha… THINK TANK
(Founder and C.E.O of Saxbee Consultants & Other-Mother
Mobile No. +91-9818308353
Address:-First Floor G-20(A), Kirti Nagar, New Delhi India Postal Code-110015