It can be a power for good. It can make people feel happy about their choices. It can make them rethink their habits or even the status quo. But nonetheless there are some marketing categories that automatically make every female in advertising cringe for their anti-feminist, outdated, painfully formulaic and often destructive messaging. My personal top three offenders are:
1) Cosmetics / Beauty Care Products
Formula: Women (white) looks worried or sad. After all, she is modern and probably has a very busy day, working, taking care of the kids and going on ‘date night’. But tiredness or worry is highly unattractive in a woman and must be stopped. Woman tries new [insert product here] using a lot of wispy playful gestures. Generally she has the bloody time of her life while doing so – regardless of whether that product includes peroxide, wax strips, mild acid etc. or how long it takes. In fact, the longer the process, the more craic she has. Break to the man explaining ‘the science bit’ (as it’s over and above her capabilities obviously) then cut back to a happy, well adjusted more youthful looking woman. Woman does some kind of ridiculous little happy dance, or makes cheeky gesture to friends also in the know. How wonderful and youthful they all are now they have this new beauty secret…
2) Cleaning Products
Formula: Woman (white) is distressed, tired or sad. For some reason, she is incapable of keeping her home within the acceptable cleanliness levels of a forensic lab. Perhaps that’s where her partner works, as he is never there. Child makes some particular mess, runs off. Woman shakes head. Regardless of the age of the child, clearly this is her responsibility to clear up. Oh but how?! At this moment, some kind of magical cleaning person bursts unaided and unpermitted into the family home (it’s always a large home, nobody lives in an apartment or flatshares). Usually they are male. Woman seems to have no objections however as said male stranger explains how Product X is going to make her life that much easier with yes, more science. Woman cleans/dances her way around the house – or better yet, it’s all done in one swipe. Man comes home or kid comes in. Everyone is happy with now mysteriously more youthful and well-dressed woman. “Thank God she finally got her sh*t together!” thinks man, “I was just about to leave.” Knowing contented smiles all around.
and 3) Sanitary products
Woman/girl (white) (presumably because the idea of women over 30 having periods is too much for the public) is worried or sad. She has an awful secret that nobody but never find out about ever, or it will mean the end of her career/life/relationship/fun time at the water park… whatever. So she decides to skip on life until she remembers! Wait a second – I can totally do my bungee-jumping-white-dress-shimmying-swimming-pool-jumping-horseback-riding day, because I’m using Product X! [Cut to science bit]… using demonstrative blue water for some reason. Runs off to skip and jump in a field. Oh sweet freedom! Now nobody will ever know my shameful monthly secret!
Now, compare that with the latest advert from Always – already cranking up over 22 Million views on YouTube. Always ran a huge #LikeaGirl campaign at the Superbowl last year.. But this second campaign proves they haven’t just dipped their toe in the water – they’ve cemented an entirely new positioning. They’ve found a real insight and a real proposition worth pursuing – one which benefits girls the world over. A proud moment in advertising. Long may it last and I sure hope. plenty more brands follow their lead.
What do you think of the new advert?