Femvertising Wins Big At The Cannes Lion International Festival Of Creativity


When we think of the representation of women in advertising, a few words immediately come to mind: sexist, objectification, and shallow. That is until femvertising came along and ruined the “sex sells” party and gave the industry a heavy dose of girl power.

Over the past few years we have seen an influx of advertising that has clearly made a statement about feminism. We really have to give kudos to a brand like Dove whose ground-breaking commercials have changed the way women are portrayed. It has become less about women as objects, and more about women as complex beings who want to be catered to as equals.

Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches‘ has over 66 million view on Youtube and is the most viewed advertising video on the platform. That’s pretty impressive!

Many more advertisements have become viral hits in their own rights and have made appearances during major broadcast events in the US such as the Super Bowl – both toy brand Goldieblox and hygiene brand Always. In fact the 2015 Superbowl, whose commercials have become a highly watched aspect of the broadcast as much as the game, showed a great deal of empowering femvertising from brands such as Toyota and Nationwide insurance.


It’s no surprise then that the biggest international awards for advertising, the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity saw girl power win big this year. The ceremony is often referred to as the “academy awards” of advertising, which gives you an idea of the weight it holds within the industry.

This year’s event also saw the inclusion of a new category called the Glass Lion, which was created with the help of Facebook COO Sheryl Advertising to award brands that are using their platform to think outside the box, dismantle gender bias and promote a more inclusive agenda.

The awards recognize advertising in print, on mobile platforms and other promotional campaigns, reports USA Today. The ‘Like A Girl’ campaign created by Always won two major awards – the Grand Prix award in the PR category, a Gold Lion in three other categories, and a Glass Lion. They were one of 7 entrants to win a Glass Lion, which saw a total of 166 entries.

The ad was created by the Leo Burnett agency who cleverly turned an insulting phrase into one of empowerment, spawning a subsequent trending movement as well.


One of the other commercials which won a Glass Lion and was somewhat inspired by the #LikeAGirl phenomenon as well as the spate of body positive messages that Dove gave birth to in advertising a decade ago was Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign.

Unlike the majority of fitness and body image campaigns we are used to seeing, this ad portrayed a diverse array of British women, with a variety of bodies, partaking in activities that in advertising are normally reserved for size zero Caucasian girls. The message is that every girl CAN do what she wants when it comes to fitness, and every body shape should be celebrated, not berated.

As well as taking home a Glass Lion, Sport England’s powerful ad, created by agency FCB Inferno London, was awarded the 2015 Grand Prix for Good, an award for public service and non-profit campaigns.

“It doesn’t matter how good you are or what you look like when exercising. The most important thing is that you’re doing something. That is what we should all celebrate,” said Jennie Price, Sport England’s CEO.


Another ground-breaking advertisement that won a Glass Lion, as well as a a Bronze Lion in the Media category, was hygiene brand Whisper’s ‘Touch The Pickle’ campaign. It was created by P&G India and BBDO India and addresses the taboo subject of periods and the gender bias often associated with it in India.

“As soon as girls enter puberty in India, they’re introduced to different taboos related to menstruation: ‘Don’t worship’, ‘Don’t enter the kitchen’, and ‘Don’t touch the pickle’. There’s a belief that if women touch the pickle jar, the pickles will rot. P&G’s integrated movement encouraged women, young and old, to talk openly about menstruation, and defy taboos,” writes Duncan Macleod for Theinspirationroom.com.

“The Whisper ‘Touch the Pickle’ movement was conceived when we realized that a majority of Indian women were following irrelevant period taboos that restricted them from achieving their dreams. With superior quality sanitary protection like Whisper, we believe women should not feel restricted on their period days. Women across India overwhelmingly responded to our campaign with their own stories of breaking taboos. Their personal tales of achievement and an overall movement to be unstoppable resulted in our consumers rewarding us by choosing Whisper,” said a P&G spokesperson about the ad.

Bollywood star who became an internet viral sensation after shutting down a reporter’s sexist question during a press conference, Parineeti Chopra, was the face of the campaign.

We are really enjoying the emphasis on girl power and feminism in advertising. We hope that this is the type of female representation that becomes the norm, rather than the sexualized and objectified versions we have seen for years and years.

Femvertising has become such a huge and legitimate phenomenon that SheKnows Media are holding an inaugural #Femvertising Awards, the winners of which will be announced at the 2015 BlogHer conference in New York City on July 17. Nearly 100 brands were submitted, and 3 finalists were chosen in each of the four categories (Humor, Social Impact, Next Generation, and Inspiration) were determined by a prestigious panel of judges hailing from organizations such as the Clinton Foundation, Forbes, Huffington Post, the 3% Conference and MSNBC.

“In its first year, SheKnows Media’s #Femvertising Awards honor brands that are challenging gender norms by building stereotype-busting, pro-female messages and images into ads that target women. Femvertising is a term we use to describe advertising that employs pro-female talent, messages, and imagery to empower women and girls, ” says a description of the awards on the website.

Here’s to a new era of advertising that doesn’t use or view women as a commodity, but as an integral part of society which deserves marketing catering to from an empowering point of view.

Check out what SheKnows Media has to say about this phenomenon:




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