The Shocking Video Proving Kids Really Are Affected By The Subtle Messages In Advertising


As adults we know how pervasive the messages that certain advertising campaigns carry, for example the Tom Ford fragrance image above. We are constantly bombarded with images of dominant men, and objectified women, all for the sake of selling a product, but at what cost?

For decades now women have gotten the message that they are just not good enough unless they look like a certain airbrushed unrealistic and fictional person, or unless they spend copious amounts of money on a product that will still never make them look like the person in the ad.

But over the past few years we have seen a remarkable shift in the direction of advertising targeting women. Thanks in large part to Dove and its stance to empower women in their own bodies, there has been a huge uptick in the trend toward powerful visuals of females.

Plenty of brands are now following suit: Always, Under Armour, Pantene and Toyota have recognized the intense reactions to this new portray of women and have decided to turn to this particular brand of feminine advertising, dubbed Femvertising. At this year’s Cannes Lions festival, which honors the biggest ad campaigns of the year, a handful of femvertising spots dominated some of the main categories.

SheKnows Media also just held the inaugural Femvertising Awards at the Blogher Conference mid-July which honored some of the aforementioned brands which have literally change the face of mainstream advertising today. It is not just a trend, it has now become a vital heartbeat to success for any brand that aims to target women.


Just recently we have seen shoe brand Keds hire Taylor Swift to be the face of their new ‘Ladies First’ campaign which aims to give a “fresh perspective on what it means to be a woman today”. The platform is inspired by women who create their own paths, make their own rules, and harness the power of femininity and strength.

“A new generation of women has been leading an exciting cultural shift redefining the conversation about equality and female empowerment,” said Chris Lindner, president of Keds in a press release.

“Ladies First is a celebration of amazing women like Taylor Swift who are blazing new trails every day. From CEOing to BFFing, these ladies are doing it all,” he added.

“Everywhere you look today young women are taking charge of their personal narratives. We were inspired by this new generation of women who are demolishing anachronistic notions of feminisms, such as the idea that feminine style and career success are somehow mutually exclusive,” said Jonah Bloom, Co-President NY, Co-Chief Strategy Officer of kirshenbaum bond senecal + partners who helped create the Keds campaign.


Not only are the messages being changed from portraying women and girls as secondary or objects to be controlled, rather than IN control, there are some brands going all out and crying foul against the advertising industry’s damaging visuals in general, making it an opportunity to show why a certain brand is more trustworthy.

In June General Mills cereal released a new video to promote Multi-grain cheerios and used the opportunity to speak about a trending summer topic, being “bikini ready”, and why the industry needs to stop feeding the “dietainment” machine. Meaning, entertainment and media that contain harmful messages telling young girls to diet to be beautiful.

“Unhealthy diet messages disguised as entertainment…we need to stop it from reaching our girls,” says the narrative in the video below:

While not all advertising has to have such a serious and somber tone, there is a huge need for more message like this to combat the thousands upon thousands of those resembling the Tom Ford ad above.

A video made by Spanish artist Yolanda Dominguez shows a group of male and female 8 year olds looking at a series of high fashion advertisements, some of which you are all probably familiar with.

Some of the reactions to the images, one where a model is awkwardly strewn about on a pavement in couture clothes, are indeed funny: “maybe she’s on drugs” and “if I saw her on the street I would call an ambulance”.

But the more you watch the more the difference between the way men and women are portrayed in advertising really does get in grained into the minds of young kids.

“He looks heroic”, they describe a male model in one of the campaigns. “They’re bosses”, “they’re happy”, “they’re going to university” they say about the other men in the images.

“The result clearly shows the implicit violence and unequal treatment of men and women that exists in fashion editorials. This video raises many questions about the hidden messages generated by the fashion world – why is it that with such images showing glamor and luxury, nobody denounces what influence they have in visual education? Why do brands such messages support? What can we do about it?” asks the description of the video in Spanish:

It’s an uphill battle to expect every single brand and advertiser in the world to actually give a damn about the social cues they are ingraining into generations of young men and women as they grow up. But it is important to highlight the brands who are taking notice of the problem it is causing and the change they are making.

We shouldn’t be made to feel inadequate or ugly to want to buy a product. Whoever thought of that in the first place?!? Dove really hit the nail on the head 10 years ago when it started its ‘Real Women’ campaigns, proving that to make a woman feel empowered and positive about herself does not mean she won’t spend money. In fact, spending money on a brand that doesn’t seek to exploit us will cultivate a little thing called brand loyalty.

For more expert information on how advertising is affecting us subconsciously, take a look at this series by Dr. Jean Kilbourne, an internationally recognized expert on the effects of women in advertising, called ‘Killing Us Softly’. Perhaps if more brands were aware of the damage they are doing just to make a buck or two, and if more consumers recognized that they don’t owe anything to brands who seek to destroy their self-esteem, we might see femvertising become the dominant in the conversation, rather than the new kid on the block.




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