During Carnaval 2014, I was in Rio De Janeiro celebrating the famous national holiday, and this is one of the ads in the street that caught my attention:
The poster says “I forgot the ‘NO’ at home”. The biggest brewery in Brazil was widely seen as specifically inviting women to not say no to guys during the Carnaval and rather let the guys freely kiss them.
Fast forward to 2016. Despite all the ongoing discussions about gender equality, this is what we still see in advertising today:
So, let’s understand a few things about women first.
Women are the world’s largest consumer group. We make 85% of all buying decisions and control 73% of the global consumer purchasing, accounting for a staggering $20 trillion of the world’s annual consumer spending. And yet, we still see women wrongly represented in the media and many times being stereotyped, most probably as a consequence of women being woefully underrepresented in creative jobs in advertising. Unsurprisingly, 91% of female consumers feel advertisers don’t understand them. We believe that this issue has even deeper and more serious consequences.
What has advertising been selling?
The majority of the time, women are still stereotyped as fragile and are encouraged to pursue beauty as the ultimate goal in life, while men are inspired to be brave, adventurous and open-minded. If we still doubt it, take a look at what real girls’ points of view are in this video:
Advertising is present in people’s lives from a young age, so people’s desires and ambitions in life are influenced by the aspirational reality depicted to them. This process starts early, very early. For little girls and boys it starts way before they have established their own points of view. Thus, the consequence of what is shown in advertising can have a massive societal impact.
Change is needed
Generations to come are no longer going to accept what ads tell them without criticizing it. Generation Z has new role models to be inspired by. Girls in this group have acquired new references from brave activists. Social media has given space for activists like Malala Yousafzai and Emma Watson to speak out and stand up for causes that will impact their future directly. And most of all, they call for girls to participate. They are empowering and provoking them, giving them information and ways to contribute. #YesAllGirls and #HeForShe are real examples of how girls and boys are being called to action, called to fight for other girls’ rights and for a fairer world. We must also change and use advertising to contribute towards this.
Beyond the Powergirl
Unlocking the greater potential of people and communities is Innate Motion’s core purpose, mission and business. After years of working with global brands and teams, driving change and movements, our flag now stands for them: the women in media and advertising. We will not only applaud, support and make efforts to represent them fairly, we will create the means to achieve this and apply our knowledge to portray them as they want to be. The answer isn’t a one-size-fits-all image of women. Through the representation and celebration of the diversity of all qualities, we want to contribute to an image in the media landscape that does women justice.
We have started a movement to portray real women in advertising. We invite you to join this movement and contribute. Innate Motion has developed a guide for this journey; Beyond The Powergirl. This work aims to promote a vision of how it is possible to portray women fairly in society and also inspire them to be the best they can be.
This is just a starting point but an important one for sure. Let’s aim higher in what we create. Let’s do this together, better than the ads shown above, because we can and we should.