Most people — and research — would agree that advertising can have a corrosive effect on people’s self-esteem and body image, especially women. Ads traditionally work by making women feel like garbage and convincing them that they can look and feel a little less garbage-y if they buy Product X.
But advertising doesn’t have to function this way, and not all ads follow this loathsome formula. This past weekend at the BlogHer conference in New York, SheKnows Media, a women’s lifestyle digital platform, presented the inaugural #Femvertising Awards recognizing brands that empower women by tackling sexism and dismantling gender norms.
“We had conceived of the awards because we were following a trend in advertising around female-empowered messaging and creative,” said Samantha Skey, SheKnows Media’s chief revenue and marketing officer. “We decided it was a good moment to reward the companies that were making a special effort to inspire and motivate positive behaviors among women and girls.”
You can probably guess a number of the ads that were celebrated, such as Always’ “Like a Girl” and Dove’s “Speak Beautiful, since they received a ton of attention for defying convention. Other winners include Hello Flo’s “First Moon Party” and Ram Trucks’ “Courage Inside.”
The award winners will have the chance to partner up with She Knows to work on a new ad campaign with the mission of inspiring girls and women. Each company will have the opportunity to run a full campaign, starting with production and creation in the SheKnows Studio and ending with distribution in the SheKnows network of women, which numbers 80 million.
“These are not NGOs or public service announcements; these are ads meant to drive product sales,” Skey explained. “We want to make sure that we’re delivering on the femvertising principles of empowerment and also delivering on the bottom-line objectives for each of the clients we work with.” The takeaway here is that sparking conversations can spark sales, and profit doesn’t have to come at the price of denigrating your consumers.
Another recent development in the world of advertising that has us talking is Adweek’s inaugural Creative 100, which honors “the current masters of the creative idea” from the fields of advertising, branded content, technology, products, pop culture and more. A number of women were recognized in the first incarnation of the list. Mindy Kaling — who appears on the cover of this week’s edition of Adweek — is joined by Amy Schumer, Shonda Rhimes, singer Janelle Monáe, Sarah Koenig (the “Serial” podcast), Erin McPherson (Makers Studio), Melissa Rosenthal (Buzzfeed) and others. In Adweek’s profile of Kaling, “The Mindy Project” star mentioned that she’s interested in writing and directing a movie.