As we noted in a previous post back in January, advertisements powered by feminism that expose gender inequalities underlying our everyday culture were on the rise in 2013, and definitely continue to have a significant effect on the industry and consumers in 2014. The most recent campaign currently receiving a lot of attention is Lauren Greenfield’s “Like a Girl,” for Proctor & Gamble’s popular brand Always. At the start of the video, several men and women, as well as a young boy, demonstrate what they believe it means to run, throw and fight ‘like a girl,’ quickly revealing harmful cultural stereotypes. These actions are then juxtaposed against clips of tween girls who completed each task with immense passion, strength and self-assurance. The ad’s point? The idea that women and young girls are weak, foolish, and incapable is something taught by our culture and far from the reality of our world. While aiming to critique destructive gender stereotypes, the ad also prompts viewers to think of how these stereotypes negatively affect girls’ conceptualization of themselves and of their potential, especially during their pre-teen/teenage years as statistics show that self-esteem plummets in many girls during adolescence.
Although this advertisement was only released a couple weeks ago, a multitude of reposts, news articles and viewer reactions has helped it to quickly go viral. However, as I surveyed different pieces highlighting the ad, it was interesting to read the wide array of opinions being expressed; the most thought provoking being those commenting on the ad’s undeniable purpose to also increase sales. It is true that in today’s competitive world, many companies are using Corporate Social Responsibility as a differentiator, and with CSR making up as much as 40% of a company’s reputation (according to a 2011 Reputation Institute Pulse Survey), it’s clear to see why. By making that emotional connection with the consumer and showing them that they share the same values, consumers are attracted to the brand and are more likely to remain loyal customers. With this in mind, some wonder if the marketing intent diminishes the feminist message. While advertising cannot be separated from its intentions to promote consumer products, in my opinion, “Like a Girl” is much more than just a sales pitch. Through genius story-telling and emotional appeal, it is a brief snapshot of one of the many gender inequalities girls are faced with. Most importantly the video is a launching pad for people to have productive conversations about how we can make positive changes in our world that empower emerging generations of women.