How ‘Like A Girl’ Has Set A New Standard For Female Empowerment In Advertising


By now we’re all pretty familiar with the term “femvertising” right? For those who aren’t, it is the unofficial word used to refer to advertising that has a feminist slant or at the very least some sort of female empowerment aspect included, rather than the usual manner of portraying women as objectified beings. In short, it’s a win-win for women in advertising!

Brands such as Dove, Pantene and Kotex have really capitalized on the trend of making women feel empowered to buy a product, rather than hate themselves. One brand that has really stepped it up a notch with their message is hygiene label Always. Their first ‘Like A Girl’ commercial which was unleashed onto the world mid-2014 completely revolutionized and challenged our way of thinking. Just as the title suggests, the idea was to break down stereotypical notions that doing anything “like a girl” should be considered weak, less than, or not as important.

The ad proved so popular it was even featured during the Super Bowl 2015 broadcast, a televised sporting event known for its very masculine focus all of a sudden gave way to the idea that women’s efforts should be about more than what they look like. More than that, it put a whole new spin on what has been considered an insult to the masculine physicality.

Comments like “dude you throw like a girl” are something we are all familiar with. Now Always have released another video in their ‘Like A Girl’ series called ‘Unstoppable’ which goes one step further. The girls and young women featured in the video below talk about how they don’t want to be told they can’t do something that has typically been seen as a “male” thing.

An Always study found 72% of girls feel society limits them, so the brand wants to flip the script on that figure. Some of the things that the girls in the video have been told they can’t do include rescue someone, play sport and be brave. The Always research also found that puberty is a crucial time for girls who decide to start accepting society’s limitations, which is why role models and influencing girls at all stages of their lives is important.

At a launch event in New York, ‘Game of Thrones’ actress Maisie Williams who is a brand ambassador for Always gave an awesome speech urging her fellow females to aim high and not fall prey to the limiting standards that still exist in the world.

“It’s time for girls to be free; free to nurture and celebrate whatever qualities and talents make them different. It’s the most liberating time moving into adulthood. But that transition should not happen with labels and expectations, but with an open heart and mind… Confidence gives us what we need in life. So build yours, protect yours, fight for yours, grab it with both hands and hold it like the course of your future depends on it,” she said.

“The world is desperate for leaders, male and female. It’s not about gender, it’s about purpose… The Like a Girl movement has done so much to elevate the conversation. Girls, we have to stick together, please support each other… You’re allowed to be the most important person in your story,’ she continued, showing just how influential this ad campaign has become.


But its reach has gone beyond just the ‘Like A Girl’ target audience. We believe it has even set a new high standard for women’s advertising in general. There are many who try and fail to target the diverse female audience, but Always’ simple yet profoundly powerful statement cuts through to the heart of any woman’s life.

Another brand that has both failed and succeeded at femvertising is Nike Women. Not too long ago the US division released their ‘Inner Thoughts’ video as part of their Better For It marketing campaign. For us it completely missed the mark and made it seem like the brand is far too removed from what women actually want. Throughout the whole video we see women getting down on themselves about running a marathon, doing a yoga class and a spin class. Yes we all think of negative things we can say to ourselves, but isn’t the whole point of advertising to give us something aspirational without being condescending?

Unlike the US video, Nike Women in Russia did a MUCH better job of showcasing what women are capable if they only believe in their strength. It definitely has a more gritty feel to it than the US ‘Inner Thoughts’ video. One ad spot shows a woman working through the pain to hold a tough yoga pose, another video shows a woman not allowing a setback to stop her from putting the smackdown on her opponent in a boxing match.

Both of the women in these Russian ads show a glimpse of feeling like they can’t break through yet there is the sense that they overwhelmingly are capable.

The Always and Nike Women commercials are not 100% the same, but the underlying message is clearly different to what we are used to seeing. We are altogether sick of seeing self-deprecating, cutesy videos which some brands think are more effective and “realistic” than driving home the message about strength and capability.

To combat the decades of advertising trends that have seen women become objects, rather than powerful beings, marketing campaigns have to set themselves apart with messages that don’t pander to the status quo.

Sports has been quite a popular area to portray the power that women posses, and with the recent win by the US Women’s National Soccer Team at the World Cup, certain brands who already sell and market to the sporting audience have a prime audience to capitalize on what is happening in the world today.

For us the path forward in advertising, if it is to continue being empowering is clear: screw the status quo and the rules, instead be a source of aspiration and inspiration. Now that Dove and Always have raised the bar to an all-new high, we hope other brands and marketing campaigns will recognize how popular they are and want to follow in their footsteps. Here’s hoping the next generation of boys and girls will grow up thinking that doing anything “like a girl” is associated with words such as power, brave, courage, equal and empowered, rather than an insult.