Creative Choice: Femvertising

This article first appeared in the 18 March edition of AdNews 'The Gender Issue' a themed edition that explored sexism and gender diversity in the advertising industry and marketing.

It's all about the work and Creative Choice is where we send in the pros to critique the latest offerings from ad land.

Lavender creative director Ryan Stubna and Imagination ECD Michelle Schuberg take on the challenge for this week's Creative Choice, putting their creative eye to work from ANZ, Federal Government, Westfield, Ariel, Neutrogena and NAB.

First up - a few little words from the creatives themselves:

Ryan Stubna: There are some strong and important messages of women’s equality, self-image and self-belief here. However, when brands leverage days such as IWD, the whole CX should be considered, not just a one-off TVC/video.

Michelle Schuberg: IWD is a sensitive area, with a huge risk ofcreating something clichéd or condescending. I’d love to know how many of these brands truly walk the talk when it comes to these issues. It’d be great to hear from them in a more genuine way about how they’re living the message.

1. Pocket Money - ANZ by Whybin\TBWA Group Melbourne

RS: I love this ad – it is well executed and touches on a poignant truth. What adds richness to the ad is that it’s not simply a conveniently timed piggyback of IWD; it links to a website full of relevant articles, information and support. And, importantly, it shows customers what they’re actually doing about equality within their organisation.

MS: There’s nothing new about using cute kids in advertising to get across a serious adult message, and when it’s done well it can really knock you sideways. In this instance, the first half is engaging, clear and works well, but by the end it just doesn’t hit as hard as it should. A lot of the children’s lines come across a bit staged and the unfortunate outcome is that I still have no idea what the brand is doing to change things. Do ANZ have equal pay for women? If so, I’d like to hear about it, if not... well.

2. Girls Make Your Move - Federal Government by AJF Partnership

RS: The inclusion of all shapes, sizes, nationalities and abilities in this ad is fantastic, and the positive message of encouraging confidence and giving things a go should be applauded. Rather than ‘job done’, the audience is then directed to a website that makes it simple to go from watching to doing.

MS: Why do government ads never quite ring true? It feels real and it’s not overly condescending in its approach. But something about the delivery is a bit like when your parents are trying to sound cool at your 15th birthday party. Will it be aspirational enough for young girls? It might have taken ‘real’ too far and it might be mums’ and dads’ version of real. I’d like to ask some teenage girls what they think, but I suspect that despite best intentions and a good concept, the delivery will lead to an eye roll (from the couch).

3. Own Your Story - Westfield by Sibling

RS: It’s a nicely shot ad, but shallow. While Delta is a respected role model for young girls, the ad is quite introspective and doesn’t succeed in inspiring fearless-ness and dreaming big. It will probably sell nice dresses to play the piano in though.

MS: After hearing Delta Goodrem open the piece with “Dear Delta…” I grew nervous. But this ad won me over with its moody visual style and music, as well as its positive, simple messaging. Ending with “Remember, you can be anything” was a strong touch and overall I felt this ad worked well. T his also sets itself up nicely for an effective ongoing campaign. It’s nice to think that the brand didn’t just create an empowered ad for women because it was International Women’s Day, but because that’s what the brand stands for every day.

4. Share the Load - Ariel by BBDO India

RS: ‘Share the load’ has the potential to be the beginning of an effective and positive global movement. The idea has come from a real and relevant truth, and I can see mums all over the world loving Ariel for this.

MS: Beautifully done. This piece not only tugs at the heartstrings, it speaks to its audience in an understanding and thoughtful way. It says what every ad for household products in this country should be saying in this day and age – that they aren’t just “for mum”. I was worried for a moment that it’d go too far and become a parody of the busy mum with her choreographed routine when she got home. But the strength of the concept and overall execution won out. It’s empowering without being patronising. This is how messaging is done when it’s done well.

5. Knows What Makes a Woman Beautiful - Neutrogena by Roberts & Langer

RS: An ad telling women that beautiful is ‘the ability to look in the mirror and see that anything is possible’ then sending them to a website of cosmetics and skin treatments just doesn’t sit right with me. There seems to be a disconnect between the brand and the messages it is preaching. There’s also a glaring lack of girls who aren’t traditionally ‘beautiful’.

MS: This ad is clichéd and contradictory. If beauty is about putting yourself out there, then this ad should’ve been about looking within to see what you’re really made of, not about how pretty you look in the mirror. Don’t put your best face forward, put your best effort forward. Chase life, kick arse and have some fun doing it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look great, but the brand could have been honest about that. It tried to take the high road and failed.

6. It's Down to All of Us - NAB by NAB

RS: Oh I wish that I hadn’t seen the ANZ IWD ad first.

MS: Much like the ANZ ad, I was left wondering what the brand is actually doing about all of the issues the ad discusses, other than listening to people’s opinions of them on Twitter. I had to watch this a couple of times to notice the staff name tags on a couple of people’s outfits to realise these were bank employees, since no one set up who they were from the outset. And while it’s impossible not to agree with what they’re saying, this feels like a last minute idea put together after someone remembered International Women’s Day was approaching.

AdNews has a collection of the most recent femvertising campaigns. Check them out here.

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