Dove & Always Have A Clear Message For Advertisers: “Sex Sells” Is Out, Girl Power Is In!


Both Dove and Always have released new commercials which should leave advertisers with little doubt as to what women and girls want to see in ad campaigns. While the idea of “sex sells” is still very prevalent in many forms of media, there is a powerful trend emerging from the the ashes of the fed up women whose voices are being heard louder than ever thanks to social media and blogs.

Dove started bucking the trend more than a decade ago by introducing their industry-disrupting “Real Beauty” campaign featuring non-models of all shapes, sizes and ages. It made the entire world take notice and attach the idea of realism to the brand. When their “Real Beauty Sketches” video was released a few years ago, it ignited a new trend which was riding the new wave of female empowerment and feminism that seems to have become louder with the digital age.

Now are seeing a number of brands following suit, such as Nike Women, Under Armour, Pantene, and more. The reason we feel strongly about promoting these videos is because of the impact. “You can’t be what you can’t see”, as the saying goes, so when young girls growing visualizing their bodies as objects to push product and cultivate sexual desire in the opposite sex, we have a major problem.


While Dove is still leading the way by breaking down harmful messages around body image and constructing more positive, empowering ones, feminine hygiene brand has become quite the formidable ally in this fight when they burst onto the scene a year ago with their first ‘Like A Girl’ video. After airing during the Super Bowl and becoming a talking point in many discussions around how to elevate the status of women and girls in advertising and media, it was clear that “femvertising”  (the nickname given to the presence of tonnes of girl power in advertising) was a new forced to be reckoned with.

Always has a strong focus on young girls, emphasizing how impactful it is for the younger demographic to start being bombarded with empowering messages as early as possible. Their new video titled ‘Keep Playing’ once again portrays girls playing certain sports talking about the sexist and demeaning comments they get from people in their lives and communities because of their gender.


“How many times have we heard comments like “girls shouldn’t play that sport” or seen girls’ teams playing in half-filled arenas? What impact does this have on girls and their desire to play sports? Today, 7 out of 10 girls feel they don’t belong in sports. And as they’re pressured to conform to societal expectations, it’s no wonder that at puberty girls’ confidence plummets and half quit sports. Yet sports are exactly what help girls stay confident,” says a description about the video.

“Sports are critical in building confidence. In fact, a recent NHCS study found that women aged 18 to 24 are twice as likely to be confident if they play sports regularly than those who do not play at all! And yet, society is not tackling the silent issue of girls dropping out of sports,” it continues.

Although professional female athletes are role models and heroes girls can aspire to, unfortunately people like Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey and many others are still judged for their appearance by a mostly male-dominated sports media and journalism landscape, which reinforces the damaging message that a woman’s worth comes from her appearance. For any young girl to watch this video and see peers her age take a stand against negativity toward them can have a major effect on the decisions they make in their own lives.

Along with their new ‘My Beauty My Say’ video, Dove also released a study recently which is their largest ever undertaken. The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report interviewed 10,500 women and girls across 13 countries and found that more than two-thirds of women (69%) and girls (65%) globally say increasing pressures from advertising and media to reach an unrealistic standard of beauty is the key force in driving their appearance anxiety.

The study also reiterated the study cited by Always, saying that an overwhelming amount of women (85%) and girls (79%) opt out of activities such as sports when they don’t feel good about themselves. There were some positive aspects to the study which showed a large amount of girls and women feel the media needs to do a better job of portraying more diverse women in their visuals, and its clear Dove is putting this data to good use.

The women featured in ‘My Beauty My Say’ all share stories of being told they weren’t good enough or weren’t going to be successful in their chosen field because of how they look.


“Somewhere along the way, it has become the norm to judge women based on their appearance and use their beauty against them. With the #MyBeautyMySay campaign we feature stories of amazing women who stood up for their own beauty,” says a description of the video.

Androgynous model Rain Dove being told she didn’t look “feminine” enough. Fashion blogger Jessica was told she wasn’t skinny enough. And boxer Heather was told she was too good looking to get in the ring.

“They said I was too masculine, boyish and ugly.”

“They said I was too fat.”

“They said I was too pretty to fight.”

If the Always video covered the younger demographic, this Dove video gives audiences an insight into what happens when negative body images standards permeate a culture and become the norm in an adult woman’s life. But we also get to see what it’s like when women break through those barriers and choose to define themselves as they wish.


We’re not just celebrating these campaigns for their powerful, emotive scenes. This is an education for all of us, especially as digital media becomes an increasingly ever-present staple in the lives of young girls and boys. There are many who claim the media needs to do a better job of not stereotyping women and girls, and these two videos and brands are a part of the powerful shift we see happening.

When we watch a video like ‘My Beauty My Say’ or ‘Like A Girl’ and leave feeling empowered about our lives and bodies, rather than feeling like women are just powerless objects next to a hamburger or a pick-up truck, we know we are heading in the right direction. It will certainly be interesting to look at the impact girl power in advertising on young women in a few decades. In the meantime, keep it up!




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