Mikayla Toonen, Special to Advertising Week
It may not be in the dictionary, but femvertising is on its way. SheKnows Media defines femvertising as advertising that employs pro-female talent, messages, and imagery to empower women and girls. During Advertising Week, a group of panelists joined together to explore the industry-wide movement toward creating more pro-women advertisements, and how those efforts have already made an impact. Samantha Skey, President and CRO of She Knows Media, led the panel full of female leaders aimed at promoting pro-female advertising. The key players included Madonna Badger, CCO/Founder of Badger & Winters; Jodi Harris, Vice President of Anheuser-Busch; Jamia Wilson, Executive Director of Women, Action and the Media; and Angeliqué Roché, Vice President of External Affairs at Ms. Foundation for Women. The panel discussed that the move to more pro-female ads has been increasing.
According to Badger, women are demanding more pro-female ads. Specifically, the millennial generation is demanding that sexist ads be displaced by female positive material. The millennial generation trying to change sexists advertisement could be the response to women’s constantly changing shopping patterns and drinking consumption patterns.
Harris, explained that alcohol is a male dominate industry. Though it might be male dominant, the alcohol industry recognizes that patterns are changing and creating more women friendly advertisements. Women don’t respond well to advertising that objectifies them and companies like Anheuser-Busch are recognizing that it is affecting both their reputation and their bottom line.
The panel explained that a lot of corporate companies know they have done harm but want to do a better job. Data is the most successful way of showing companies the damage that sexist advertising has on their success. Badger admitted to helping with sexist ad campaigns in the past, she said her changing moment came after googling objectification of women for a project. The main thing that her search revealed was objectifying advertisements. The decision to stray from sexist content may be a better business decision but it is also the right thing to do for society.
Jamia Wilson, Executive Director for Women, Action and the Media said there is data to prove how sexualized media harms all women, especially young girls. She said sexualized media lessens self-esteem and causes more eating disorders among young girls. Not only does sexualized media harm females but young males as well. Wilson acknowledged that the more TV a young man watches the more sexist he becomes, that is in large part because of TV advertising.
Badger also recognized the effect sexualized ads have on boys through a project her company completed. She said the project revealed that boys felt as uncomfortable about the sexist advertisement as the girls did. This data helps some companies redirect their advertising strategy away from the easy "sex sells" campaign.
The progression away from sexualized advertising is important but companies and agencies need their internal operations to follow. According to Harris, as Anheuser-Busch actively removes itself from the sexist narrative in advertising, their business is following suit. Anheuser-Busch became the first major brewer to sign the White House Equal Pay Pledge. The panel encouraged everyone to visit the website #womennotobjects and sign the petition to stop the Cannes Lions from accepting ads that objectify women. Giving awards to sexist advertising only gives companies more reason to continue their harmful behavior. As SheKnows Media stated, “sell your product, not her body.”