The Feminist “Bandwagon” in Advertising


I’ve been hearing some complaints lately about a new swing in advertising – the swing toward female-focused, feminist, and female empowering messages in ads…

Because, oh my word how distasteful.  We’re already hearing about gender equality endlessly on social media, now we have to be bombarded with it in commercials!

“men are being alienated in the media”

#yesallwomenMatt Lauer is sexist, female body image, women women women, enough already…”

“mountains out of molehills”

“feminazi propaganda”

“Advertisers are still selling something, and women are falling for it.”

“I can’t keep track of all the female ‘issues’…”

Do I want to be considered smart?

Do I want equal pay?

Do I want equal opportunity?

Or do I want to feel beautiful?

Yes. Yes, I do.

Advertisers, I will gladly take your commercial – with a side of female-focused empowerment advertising.

Advertisers have been selling to us for ages by making us feel bad, ugly, and not good enough…

It’s about time they started selling to us by making us feel good.

What is “female-focused”, “feminist”, and “empowerment” advertising?

Well, Dove has been doing it on the beauty front with their self esteem project, and the battle against unrealistic standards of beauty:


Verizon also recently came out with a powerful commercial about the social cues we often give our girls growing up that push them toward the aesthetic and away from science and math:


The latest is one of my favorites and it comes from the brand Always and their #likeagirl campaign:



I am aware that a lot of advertising campaigns might be more concerned about raising brand awareness by toying with my emotions than they are about actual social change.

I don’t care.

Bring it…

because along with the money that comes with being a giant company, also comes a bullhorn and responsibility.  If a brand can capitalize on making a difference, kudos to them.

I hope a hundred billion companies decide to advertise by jumping on the feminist “bandwagon”…

because the line between bandwagon and a movement is often undetectable.

Grab an instrument and play along, or get out of the way.

Sell me your car with a commercial where the woman (instead of the man) asks all the questions at the dealership.

Film all the inspiring and challenging words that come out of woman’s mouth, and then sell me your lip gloss as she finally swipes it across her lips before stepping out to do her TED Talk.

Make me want to buy your shoes buy encouraging girls to stand tall instead of shrink in certain situations.

We are a consumerist society, so companies with products have the loudest bullhorns.

The more bullhorns we have on the “feminist” side, the higher that pendulum will swing…

and to those that are crying “overkill”, just know that it has to swing high in order to finally come to rest equally in the middle.

Creating a generation of women who feel and are treated like they’re worth it takes nothing away from the worth of men.

I know that advertisers are in the business of selling…

but if they can also start meaningful dialogue, open minds, and empower the upcoming generation…

then I’m in the business of buying.


jenni chiu sig

PS – I am aware that I may have just given away some pretty good advertising ideas. If your company wishes to hire me, I am available.



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9 responses to “The Feminist “Bandwagon” in Advertising”

  1. Donna says:

    I’m with you. I am going to be bombarded with advertising messages anyway (and if you think the messages traditionally aimed at women are bad, you should take a gander at the ones aimed at those of us in the older demographics!). I’ll take positive messages wherever I can find them.

  2. Diane says:

    I completely agree with you that I’m all for brands becoming more conscience about what messages they are sending, especially about females. Brands like Dove do it well. So I don’t lump them in with the rest.

    For the rest, I dislike brands trying to appeal to my sensibilities on any cause. I am kind of worn out on brands adopting an issue to say they do more than sell to us.

    While I agree women should think before they say sorry, I feel bothered Pantene is using it like a PSA for women. It is a bigger issue than sorry. It is way bigger than can be covered in a single commercial. I think it sends the wrong message:

  3. Diane says:

    And I agree. This is all great for opening up discussions and great for all of us to think about. But do we need a brand to do that for us?

    • Jenni Chiu says:

      No, we don’t all need a brand to do that for us… but I think some might. Everyone is at a different place of evolution, learning, change, etc. I think the more important conversations are propelled forward the better, and brands have the power to reach the masses.

      • Diane says:

        I think this is the problem. It is such a conflicting message.

        Having such influential brands tell us how to think, feel and act. Yet the flip side is the brands telling us we need their product to attempt to attain these idealized looks. How is anyone suppose to feel empowered by that? Call me jaded, lol.

        • Jenni Chiu says:

          Haha! If being jaded means you’re a thinker, than I’ll call you that all day long. I think you’re right – it is often a conflicting message… but it’s up to us what we’re ultimately going to think and feel from an ad. I think “inspiring” or “do good” advertising starts a lot of important conversations online and in homes. Advertisers shouldn’t be our teachers… but ads can be something our true teachers can point to… and we can pick and choose what’s good to take away from it. I’m just happy that there is more messaging about feeling good than overtly telling us to feel bad and not good enough.

          • Diane says:

            “Advertisers shouldn’t be our teachers…”

            Ditto. I hope you’re right and it does inspire more positive self perceptions for women and conversations.

            Marketing, you’ve come a long way baby. Give me my favorite brand with an extra large side of philanthropy. I feel a blog post brewing, thank you 😉

  4. michelle says:

    Yes. yes. YES! Advertising is everywhere… might as well do some good with it.

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