Femvertising: empowering beauty campaigns that made an impact

Women empowerment has been the buzzword for most beauty companies these days, and for some time now, there’s a trend in brands challenging gender norms and celebrating women more than dictating what is beautiful. Aptly called “Femvertising”, we have rounded up some of the most inspiring beauty campaigns that has championed girls and women around the world.

 Image via coloribus.com

Image via coloribus.com

Real Beauty by Dove

Although there are many empowering beauty campaigns out there, nothing has stood out as much as the Dove Real Beauty campaign. Remember when billboards in Metro Manila asked us to send an SMS whether a woman in the ad is extra-large or extra-sexy?

The Real Beauty campaign stemmed from Dove’s study findings that showed only 2% of women around the world describe themselves as beautiful. From there, Dove then spawned several empowerment campaigns such as showing how much editing a billboard undergoes, to having a forensic artist draw women’s portraits based on their own descriptions of themselves, to asking women to choose to enter a door labeled either Average or Beautiful, all of which aims to constantly remind women to challenge the norms beauty companies impose on them.

Why it worked: Even though Dove is not the first brand to champion real beauty, they have been the first beauty brand to question the standards of beauty on a large scale through billboards, print ads, and TVCs. We used to read about editorials on beauty standards but no other beauty brand has stood out to ask the questions. And another reason why it worked and is still working? They didn’t push their products into the conversation.

Pantene Not Sorry, Shine Strong campaign

We often use #SorryNotSorry to say something mean that we’re actually not sorry about (e.g., “Sorry not sorry, but your lipstick makes you look like a garden tool”). But Pantene gave an uplifting spin to it by reminding women that they don’t need to apologize for things they don’t need to be sorry for.

Pantene’s campaign showed a video that asked “Why are women always apologizing?” It then showed showed a montage of scenes of women apologizing - a woman who wants to talk to someone begins with “I’m sorry, but…”,  a guy steps in the woman’s way, yet she’s the one offering the apology, and so on. The video questioned why should women apologize for situations that men need not to. The second half of the video then showed a replay of the previously shown scenes with women going head on in every situation and not apologizing, all along masterfully embedding the brand’s mantra to “be strong and shine.”

Why it worked: Pantene put to light an almost negligible day-to-day occurrence and encouraged to exercise self-confidence even in seemingly mundane situations.

Pantene Philippines #WhipIt campaign

Locally, Pantene’s #WhipIt tackled the double standards society impose on women. A video shows a montage of men and women in the same situations but the men getting the better label - a man leading a meeting is the boss while when it’s the woman’s turn, she’s bossy; a mom burning the midnight oil instead of taking care of her kids is selfish while the man who does the same is dedicated; a man who takes personal grooming seriously is neat while a woman doing the same thing and she is vain. At the end of the video, there’s a call to action to “Don’t let the labels hold you back. Be strong and shine.”

Two iterations of the video also showed Kris Aquino battling her Opinyonada label and Denise Laurel with her Sayang (for being a single mom) label.

Why it worked: Again, without putting the brand in front of the campaign, but championing women’s causes that hit close to home, Pantene has tackled an issue no other beauty brand in the Philippines has done. The first video was strong enough on its own, with over 200M impressions and 46M views as of September 2014, but adding the anecdotal videos of Kris Aquino and Denise Laurel gave the campaign faces and personalities that people can resonate with.

COVERGIRL Girls Can campaign

“Girls can’t. Sometimes you hear it. Sometimes you feel it.” opens Ellen De Generes in the COVERGIRL video “Girls Can”. Together with other celebrities and noted personalities such as P!nk, Becky G, Janelle Monae, Katy Perry, Sofia Vergara, and Queen Latifah, the cosmetics company highlighted the various successful women in their different fields, reminding them that they can do what they want and that they can.

Why it still works: The “you go, girl” type of campaign is nothing new, but sometimes, some of us still need reminding that yes, we can do anything we set our mind to do.

Gilette Venus #UseYourAnd

In the #UseYourAnd video, Gilette Venus shared that because of gender stereotypes, some women are limited to what they can do. Can someone be beautiful and an astronaut, or soccer-playing ballerina? Why can’t she be both? Gilette Venus urged that “if someone labels you this and that, use your And to take a stand. One dimensional labels limit your potential”. The video closed with to a crescendo cover of the song Venus by Bananarama.

Why it worked: Aside from the clever use of a Bananarama song, the campaign pushed the conversation further by encouraging women to not be complacent with the compliments they get and to push the boundaries and their potential further by using their And.

Special Mention: Always #LikeAGirl

Although Always is technically not a beauty brand (it is still a feminine pad AND a female brand anyway), their #LikeAGirl campaign is still of note. The video that first aired during the Super Bowl in 2014 started with asking adolescent women and men to “Show me how it looks like to run like a girl.” As expected, the both girls and booys showed flailing hands and clumsy body movements. But when younger girls were asked to run like a girl, they showed how they run - agile and strong - proving the study from Research Now, sponsored by Always, that found more than half of the girls surveyed claimed to experience a drop in confidence at puberty.

Why it worked: Aside from winning an Emmy award, Always has changed the way people use the term “Like A Girl” and put it in a position of strength rather than of weakness.

Did any of these campaigns hit close to home? What other campaigns have inspired you or boosted your self-confidence? Do tell us in the comments!

Sources: blackenterprise.com, Google Philippines YouTube, hercampus.com, adweek.com, yahoo.com/beauty