Tales of female empowerment

March 8 was International Women’s Day. With France making abortion a constitutional right – a world first – only days before, we decided to focus on campaigns promoting gender equity and empowerment.

von Mark Tungate , Adforum

It’s not often the establishment gets a thumbs up in France, but when the parliament voted to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution – 780 votes to 72 in favour – the move was almost universally acclaimed. Not only that, but it sent a clear statement to other nations. The Eiffel Tower lit up with the message, “My body, my choice.”

In their own way, in recent years the advertising industry and brands have become more committed to addressing the issues and challenges facing women. Let’s kick off with an unlikely contender: Lego. Because, be honest, haven’t those tough plastic bricks always seemed a bit…boyish?

Last year Lego launched “Play Unstoppable”, encouraging girls to “play without limits”, celebrating their potential and ditching gender stereotypes.

This month Lego continued the campaign by unveiling a global study revealing that girls “feel intense pressure to be perfect and believe adults give boys more recognition for their creative work”. Free workshops online and in Lego retail stores launch will “help families nurture creative confidence through the power of play”. The initiative recalls the “Like A Girl” campaign from Always, which launched in 2014, but with an emphasis on creative play.

Read here : Play Unstoppable 

Back on the playing field, here’s Ally Financial, celebrating women in sport while suggesting that media coverage of events like the FIFA Women’s World Cup still lags behind the time devoted to men. It followed the brand’s pledge to spend equally on men’s and women’s sport media over the next five years.

Meanwhile, soap brand Lux decided to tackle an unspoken issue facing women in sports: objectifying camera angles that focus on their bodies rather than their skills. It did so with a neat use of QR codes.

Dove was of course way ahead of the game when it came to empowerment, and the spot released in the run-up to this year’s Super Bowl suggests that low body confidence causes more women to quit sports than any “hard knocks” they might suffer during competitions.

It’s Oscars month too, and women directors have been consistently under-represented in the film industry. Last year, Johnnie Walker and its agency Anomaly pointed out that in 95 years of the Oscars, only three women had won Best Director. As part of its First Strides project, the brand set out to raise awareness of the movie industry gender gap, and promote films by women through partnerships with movie theatres and streaming services. To launch the campaign, a very special “red carpet” was rolled out.

When was the last time you saw an honest and moving depiction of menopause in a TV ad? It may well have been this one, from AMV.BBDO.

A positive change over the past few years has been the more accurate depiction of feminine hygiene issues in advertising. In some countries, however, even discussion of menstruation is taboo. In Mexico, Dentsu Creative and Saba chose to educate the young via…a video game.

An initiative supporting women entrepreneurs in the UAE, ItsHerWay.com, recently parodied a social media favourite, the makeup tutorial, to comment on the pay gap between men and women.

The issue of equal pay is a serious one, but it can be treated with humour, albeit of the most bitter and satirical kind. Here’s an example from the agency Mortierbrigade in Belgium. Let’s give them a big hand.