Not all campaigns have commercial goals

June 28, 2016 11:26 am Published by

One agency’s quest to challenge attitudes towards women in advertising

Have you ever Googled ‘objectification of women’?

One agency did, and the results were shocking. So much so that they decided to create a film calling out some of the brands that sexualize and objectify women’s bodies for marketing.

This video spotlights years’ worth of sexist advertising, and the montage includes everything from sexual acts and assault, right through to prostitution.

The video, created by advertising agency Badger & White, breathes new life into a familiar debate by presenting it in a humorous way. The two-minute clip features women holding up extreme examples of sexist ads, whilst offering very sarcastic critiques of what they literally convey.

It’s very powerful to see one image after another, a step up from the subliminal nature of advertising we experience day-to-day; it highlights a huge issue that has gone unaddressed for many years.

Badger & White is no stranger to using sex in advertising: they created the Calvin Klein ads featuring a topless Kate Moss back in the ‘90s. CEO Madonna Badger isn’t letting herself off the hook though – she pleads guilty to her role in objectifying women, but describes the campaign as an effort to shine light on the issue in memory of her three daughters, who all died in an accident in 2011.

Since then, the agency has made a commitment to never objectify women in its ads. During the creative process they enforce certain criteria to determine whether an ad objectifies women:

  • Prop: Does the woman have a choice or voice in this situation?
  • Part: Is she reduced to just a sexually provocative body part?
  • Plastic: Is the image manipulated to the extent that the look is not humanly achievable?

The video’s accompanying hashtag #WomenNotObjects has started conversations around the world. Agencies and brands supported the video’s message, and many have committed to creating work that does not objectify women. British fashion designers like Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham continue to champion women through their work, which translates their lifestyles as mothers and businesswomen into the clothes they create.

Social media has played a part in this change too. Years ago, there was no platform to talk to brands in real time – and now there is. Today, companies can be publicly called to shame over offensive content. Unfortunately, with the social media boom came a new breed of Internet trolling, which has left women across the globe open to day-long online harassment and abuse.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and there’s still a long way to go, but I think #WomenNotObjects is a pretty good start.

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This post was written by Ami Sibbick