#femvertising a hashtag | an advertising method | a social movement

Whether your vaguely familiar with femvertising, you've never heard of it, or you're still trying to figure out how to pronounce it, here you are. Are you interested in learning something new? Or maybe you want to be a more conscientious consumer? Either way, let's dive in.

But first, let's make sure we fully understand feminism.

To be honest, we've probably all heard the word feminism before. However, feminism is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days, it carries a lot of meanings, and it has a lot of positive and negative connotations.

All of that aside, what exactly is it?

Isn't feminism just another way of saying gender equality?

Yes & no - it's far more complex than that. Feminism is an ideology, as well as a series of political and social movements, that share the common goal of defining and establishing political, economic, personal, and social rights for all women.

The movements defining feminism span numerous centuries, beginning in the mid 1800's and continuing into the present. They are represented by the women's suffrage movement, the reproductive rights movement, the equal pay movement, and many others.

In modern terms, feminism has evolved and expanded. The movement is broader, the messages are more visible, and more people are getting involved. So naturally, the definition has evolved and expanded its focus as well. More than ever before, feminism has become a movement for personal rights.

"Feminism is a movement towards equal society for male, female and transgender people, without discrimination. People should not feel discriminated against for being who they are. They should be able to live in peace, without fear of not conforming to the “social norm.” We need to change the social norm. We need to move towards a society where men are not afraid to be vulnerable and women are allowed to be independent; a society where being male or female has no impact on how a person lives their life; a society where the pressure is off and everyone can be themselves." --Hannah McAtamney, the Huffington Post

Although feminism may seem like a pretty positive movement, the modern feminist movement has faced a lot of criticism and backlash, with people claiming it to be a movement focused on man-hating and bringing down the patriarchy and the establishment. In some circles, being a feminist is even looked down upon. In one article, the modern feminist movement is referred to as follows:

"It’s less a true 'women’s movement' than the public face of hysterical leftist intolerance — combined, of course, with utterly bizarre (and bizarrely stupid) ideas." - David French, the National Review

Whether you agree with modern feminist motives or not, that just about sums up feminism, at least for your understanding of the topic at hand.

Now that we've nailed down feminism...

Qu'est-ce que c'est "femvertising?"

What is femvertising, you ask? When you see the word femvertising, your first thought is likely an amalgamation of the words advertising & feminism. Or possibly, in simpler terms, girl power. If so, you're essentially correct - these words & ideas paint a pretty accurate portrait of the word femvertising.

Femvertising can be defined as "pro-female messaging within advertising." It's content that has a feminist message, and an un-stereotyped portrayal of women. It's positive, it's empowering, and it's powerful.

So to sum things up so far, feminism is "the belief that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities" and femvertising is "advertising that employs pro-female talent, messages, and imagery to empower women and girls."

Got it? Ok, let's move on.

What does femvertising look like in the real world?

Femvertisements as we know them can come in the form of a television commercial, a print ad, a hashtag, or often a combination of those things, which forms an overall campaign. The general hashtag #femvertising has itself grown a substantial following on social media amongst feminists and non feminists, with many ad campaigns jumping on board the social media movement and creating their own hashtags in an effort to gain attention and start a movement. As long as the message behind the ad or campaign is pro-female rights, it's a femvertisement.

In recent years, femvertisements have been growing in popularity, as there has been a great deal of positive feedback. Although modern feminism itself faces a lot of criticism, the blend of feminist ideals and advertising has been well received.

Many companies have given femvertisements a try, although there are a few standout campaigns that have likely caught your eye, whether you realized it or not.

Let's take a look at some of these ads.

Real Women, Real Beauty

Case Study: Dove's Real Beauty Sketches Campaign

One of the earlier modern femvertisements, and probably the most successful femvertising campaign, is the Dove Real Beauty campaign. This decade-old campaign celebrates the diversity in the female form in its ads for body wash and moisturizers.

The campaign had been defined by numerous print ads and commercials, depicting women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages coming together and embracing individuality & beauty. The ads even invite consumers to the Dove website to take part in "the beauty debate."

In one of its later commercials, following the continued success of the Real Beauty campaign, Dove introduced Real Beauty Sketches. In this video series, women were asked to describe themselves through their own eyes, and a sketch artist then created an image based upon that description. This image is then compared to a more objective sketch done by the same artist, and then both are shown to the women. This moving campaign goes beyond Dove's product to drive the message that women are more beautiful than they think.

"I Will What I Want"

Case Study: Under Armour's "I Will What I Want" Campaign"

As femvertising has continued to rise, several athletic companies have jumped on the bandwagon. Case and point - Under Armour. Under Armour's "I Will What I Want" campaign depicts famous female athletes such as dancer Misty Copeland and Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, along with pro-female messages of physical strength, beauty and empowerment.

With these ads, Under Armour asserts that men aren't the only athletes - women too can accomplish great things with their body and they too can have a strong physicality. The message is positive, empowering, and supportive of the female athletes of the world.

According to the campaign, its goal is to present women as having their own will in an industry focused on depictions of strong, athletic men. It reframes ideas about athletic performance as acts of inner strength and focus, and it gives women permission to will back their own control. Overall, Under Armour's goal with this campaign is to celebrate women who defy expectations and achieve their dreams.

"Inspire Her Mind"

Case Study: Verizon's #InspireHerMind

Finally, we have Verizon's "Inspire Her Mind" campaign. Unlike the majority of femvertisements, which are focused on beauty and feminine products, Verizon's campaign focuses on inspiring women and young girls to follow their dreams and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Although this campaign relies on traditional print and video ads, it also relies heavily on social media. In its print ads, Verizon posts illustrations with facts such as "Gender Stereotypes start young - only 14% of teenage girls want to become a scientist." The ad then provides links to "spread the word" on various social media platforms and lists the hashtag #inspirehermind for consumers to utilize across the internet.

Overall, Verizon’s position outside of the beauty genre allows the campaign to provide consumers with a unique voice on gender equality, opening the door for the cause to reach a wider audience. Its campaign empowers women and young girls to pursue their dreams and go out and get the career that they want, regardless of whether or not its a traditionally feminine field or not.

Okay, so why does this all matter?

Several reasons, really.

For female empowerment to work, more brands with non-female consumer bases need to provide their voice to the conversation, much like Verizon has done by focusing its attention and resources on women's place in traditionally male dominated fields.

From a marketing standpoint, femvertisements also have a positive impact on consumerism and society, especially compared to ads that depict negative female stereotypes.

Traditional depictions of women and women's stereotypes have a negative influence on society. In direct response to traditional portrayals of women, 33% of modern young women report that they are unhappy with their appearance and 41% of women between ages 18-24 retouch photos of themselves before posting them on social media.

On the flip-side, femvertising sells!

Statistics show that 52% of women have purchased an item because they liked the way that the brand portrayed women, 47% have shared a commercial or print ad with a pro-female message on social media, and a staggering 92% can name at least one pro-female campaign (which is great for advertisers!)

As far as impact goes, the message continues on a positive note. In the same study, 90% of people believed femvertisements have a direct impact of young girls' self esteem and 81% said younger generations needs to see them in the media more.

In general, femvertisements are ads that come equipped with a positive message of empowerment - so what's not to like?

Thanks for reading.

About the Author:

Alexis Crase is an M.S. candidate in Mass Communications at San Jose State University, as well as a fashion blogger and a marketing professional with several years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you have any further thoughts, please contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter.


Created with images by FeeBeeDee - "Pink Seamless" • juliejordanscott - "suffragettes carrying arrows to proudly display prison status" • Steenaire - ""Abortion on Demand & Without Apology" Protesters."

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