MARCH 2018 ART & CONVERSATION
This month, we’re taking a look at “femvertising.” If we ask, “Is this form of advertising merely marketing?”, the question answers itself. All advertising is marketing. But if we ask, “Is advertising marketed to feminists a positive step?” then the answer is a little murkier. It’s still marketing, but it’s also … something.
Written by Linda Ferrer, jim corrigan
Ed. MATTHEW SIMPSON
The culture is shifting. Many young women under 35 identity as feminists.
Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” is probably the most successful example of femvertising. It has been running since 2004. In its earliest iterations, it focused on showing more realistic body types, but it has broadened to other messages. In reality, a campaign that calls for unphotoshopped beauty is still very much using Photoshop to beautify its models. Dove’s campaign could have been one step in the right direction if it were more than a marketing campaign.
And there is the moral of the story: marketers understand the power of women’s voices today. So in order to sell a product, it must first speak the modern woman’s language. Today, that voice is social and female. And it’s called- ‘empowerment.’
One cheerfully absurd example is “First Moon Party” from a company called HelloFlo. The company’s website features a section called “Femspiration,” which it defines as “the intersection of feminism and inspiration.” These ads might be called safe feminism. A truly feminist ad would probably be unsettling, and advertisers don’t want to unsettle anyone. So, what effect is this truly having on society? “Femvertising is positive, meaningful, and progressive,” one might argue. But consider the fact that we are becoming more and more predictable or are pressured to adopt such ideologies. Our behaviors and consumer trends are collected with or without our consent and are being used to make products more appealing to us, attractive to us, and ultimately sold to us whether or not there is any truth to the campaign’s claims. Marketers are trying to get through to our wallets— and also our hearts— using concepts we hold dear.
Take, for example, a recently sponsored Facebook ad by a company called Belle Hair Co. Its marketing campaign? Free “real” hair extensions. An overwhelming response from women swamped their comments section with anticipation of their purchases, paying about $13 for shipping. So why are the free?
“Our mission here at Belle hair is to empower women all over the world. However, instead of just saying it we like to take action!”
It appeared to be ‘too good to be true’ some beauty bloggers argued on YouTube after receiving their product. The company, who claims products are made in the U.S. from natural hair, found a way to sell synthetic hair directly from China with 4-6 weeks for shipping. American buyers who fell prey to the ‘women’s empowerment’ ad, however, didn’t care too much about a mere $13.00 for shipping, not truly understanding how much that actually equates to in Chinese Yen. It’s a lot. The biggest issue with these scenarios is that an increasing number of companies around the world have become very much aware of the traction within the world of women’s empowerment, using this movement to sell merchandise without repercussions or accountability.
The most valuable resource for any company is customer loyalty. As an educated consumer, we must continue to understand the product’s real value, but most importantly, the companies’ values.