Science suggests that women have higher average IQs than men, greater sensory awareness and better immune systems. Pain thresholds, multitasking and memory spans? We don’t need controlled experiments to conclude that males typically come out second best on all three. In short, girls have a lot to feel proud about.
History has of course proved to be quite the hindrance. Indeed, it’s a testament to the strength of women that, despite having to contend with inequality engrained in the very bedrock of societies across the free world, scores of outstanding ladies have overcome prejudice to achieve remarkable things. From Marie Curie to Oprah Winfrey, females have played central roles in making the world a better place: whether through art, literature, science, medicine, politics or ground-breaking inventions we now take for granted.
Here’s eight advertising campaigns we think do a fantastic job at inspiring women to be the change they want to see – on their own terms.
Pondering his daughter’s future in a world where “despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she meets,” a father’s anxiety gives way to hope as her grit, determination and ability see her beat a competitive field of boys and girls in a soapbox race.
“Or maybe I’ll tell her something different,” he concludes, as the screen fades to its tagline: ‘Progress is for everyone’. This decisive show of corporate responsibility (and a much welcomed one following Audi’s complicity in the Volkswagen scandal) brought the fight for gender pay equality to international attention, and not a moment too soon.
This Girl Can is a call-to-arms for women to take control of their lives, be more active, and not worry about judgement. Driven with teeth-baring gusto by Maya Angelou’s rallying poem, Phenomenal Woman, the National Lottery-funded campaign spares no punches as it inspires women to embrace the blood, sweat and tears. Age, gender, background? Why should any of them hold you back? Grab life by the horns.
Did you know that only 16% of women globally graduate with degrees in the male-dominated fields of science, technology, engineering and maths? Microsoft wants to change those odds, which is why the third instalment of its #MakeWhatsNext series challenges pre-teen girls to follow their dreams of curing breast cancer, tackling climate change and changing the world. The key takeaway? Don’t let anybody tell you it can’t be done.
Women the world over are subjected to unrealistic social standards of physical beauty. It creates anxiety, low self-esteem and unhealthy behaviours, limiting the capacity for women to truly be themselves. Dove’s timely campaign asks several ladies to describe their facial features as a forensic artist draws their portrait based on what he hears. He then listens to a stranger’s observations of the same woman, and produces a separate drawing. The results are a powerful indictment on the effect a society obsessed with body image has on self-confidence, and a rallying call for women to feel comfortable in their skin.
This eye-opening campaign from Always highlights the impact that gender stereotypes can have on a young girl’s self-worth as they enter puberty. Ask any male if they have ever been guilty of saying something akin to “you throw like a girl”, and the likelihood is their response will be in the affirmative. That such comments are belittling the female gender as weaker and less able suddenly becomes crystal clear; it propagates the false narrative that men are the dominant gender. Of course, most men who have a mother, wife, girlfriend, sister or grandmother know that this is a myth; a point Always effectively rams home.
Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that resonate the deepest. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Elle’s More Women campaign; a stark, feminist critique of the lack of women in positions of power. Serving a succession of photographs depicting scenes at the Houses of Parliament, the UN Council, State visits and even MasterChef, the shocking truth manifests as men are removed from the images to expose the gender inequality that permeates the highest echelons of society. It succeeds in leaving a fire in the belly; a splinter in the mind that can only be removed by working to address this sorry state of affairs.
The power of role models takes centre stage in this Russian advertising campaign from Nike. It pivots on a young female protagonist who, stepping out in front of an audience to perform a cute paean on what it is to be a little girl, is suddenly interrupted by a figure skater pirouetting through the theatre doors. The girl is inspired, and her lyrics change to reflect the battles, resolve and grit that define womanhood. Other famous athletes join the fray as the audience, previously nodding in appreciation, look at each other in bewilderment. It’s a campaign about subverting societal expectations, refusing to be categorised, and channelling the influence of other strong-willed, successful women to be the best you can.
Children’s heads are filled with dreams; to them, the future should be an exciting land of endless possibilities. Yet for girls, there was a time when the obstacles and expectations laid before them seemed impossible to overcome. Barbie has played a key role in the upbringing of little girls for decades, and here the brand wields its influence to send a powerful message: Whether you want to be a lecturer, veterinarian or museum guide, it’s within your power.