The 10 Most Feminist Ads of 2014

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The last year was full of advertisements highlighting smart, strong women and men that defied traditional gender roles. While advertisements are—at their core—just marketing ploys for our chronically capitalist society, this year’s ads highlight the palatable version of feminism that’s taking the country by storm. Feminism’s popularity is rising, so media campaigns are catering to the movement. In an article on the Bitch blog, Natalie Baker notes the silver lining of this new ad genre:

While we don’t need to be naively over-celebratory about billion-dollar conglomerates pandering to female consumers, I do get immense enjoyment from the fact that such companies are doing so, not because they want to, but because they have to. … In fact, I like that they’re doing it out of self-interest. I don’t want feminism to be charity. I want companies to consider supporting feminism to be necessary for their survival.

The “necessity of feminism” has a nice ring to it! On that note, here’s a collection of some of our favorite feminist ads this year:

 

(1) #LikeAGirl, Always
After interviewing a range of people, Always ultimately questions why doing anything “like a girl” is inherently bad, noticing how this is a learned judgment. The young girls interviewed don’t understand the societal implications of gender (yet). — June 2014

 

(2) Inspire Her Mind, Verizon
Verizon’s ad pushes back against gender norms, encouraging girls to go into science and math fields. The company has also created technology innovation programs and awards millions of dollar in scholarships to school-age girls. — June 2014

 

(3) I Will What I Want, Under Armour
Under Amour, a company that traditionally evokes images of muscles and sweat, is expanding its traditional masculine-driven advertising. In this spot, Misty Copeland, American Ballet Theatre soloist, dazzles while narration reads a rejection letter saying, “You have the wrong body for ballet.” This ad expands the boundaries for both masculinity and femininity in a mere 60 seconds. — July 2014

 

(4) America Is Beautiful, Coca Cola
This Super Bowl ad features a collection of Americans singing “America the Beautiful” in a variety of languages. It’s heartwarming and nationalistic, highlighting an idealistic (if not simplistic) version of the United States. — February 2014

 

(5) Gracie, Cheerios
Our favorite interracial Super Bowl family is back (for a quick 30-second spot). In this ad, Gracie bargains with her dad over Cheerios about additions to the family. — January 2014

 

(6) First Moon Party, HelloFlo
The team behind The Camp Gyno brings us another celebration of menstruation, complete with bobbing for ovaries and red fondue (how appetizing). For additional reading, check out Ms. magazine co-founder Gloria Steinem‘s thoughts on a world of menstruation celebrations. — June 2014

 

(7) #HallowClean: Daughters, Tide
In a house full of messy girls and an occasional Halloween monster, Tide re-introduces a stay-at-home dad to clean up the abounding monstrosities. We’re happy to see Tide acknowledging that fathers that take part in domestic work—a sphere traditionally allocated to women. — October 2014

 

(8) #GirlsCan: Women Empowerment, CoverGirl
CoverGirl jumps on the women’s empowerment bandwagon by featuring Queen Latifah, Ellen and Pink (with a slew of others). The celebrities talk back to the “girls can’t” verbal obstacle. — February 2014

 

(9) Not Sorry | #ShineStrong, Pantene
Women apologize far more often than men. This commercial notes that gender breakdown then offers alternative language to make women “be strong and shine.” — June 2014

 

(10) GoldieBlox Super Bowl Ad, GoldieBlox
GoldieBlox’s original ad sparked quite a conversation about the toy company, which aims to inspire girls toward engineering fields. Regardless of the initial pinkwashing and its most recent big-brother ad, this February commercial created buzz about girls in STEM fields, gender-neutral toys and appropriate way to educate kids. — February 2014

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Brianna Kovan graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English. She is currently an editorial intern at Ms.

Comments

  1. I love this, thank you for posting! Amidst all of the seething I do on a regular basis over the misogyny in advertising, it is nice to see the good ones, strung together…to give us hope : )

  2. Thank you for putting these all in one place Brianna. I will be linking to this post on my blog. It not only shows that feminist ideas are getting noticed, these big brand names are helping us make the label and these feminism part of the mainstream consciousness. Advertising often seduces that a certain beer or car will bring good looking women to men, or the latest pharmaceutical will fix what ails. How wonderful that it now can help us make women executives, girl scientists, and men doing household chores an expected site!

  3. Melissa G. says:

    Just be aware, feminism should be more than brand’s reaching into women’s purses to get their money. There’s only one female director, Pam Thomas, behind any of these commercials. Absolutely everything else is produced by men, and directed by men.

    Always believes you can do anything #LikeAGirl (except direct their commercials).

    CoverGirl believes #GirlsCan do anything (except direct their commercials aimed at women).

    Even GoldieBlox wants girls to believe they can build anything in the world they want, using GoldieBlox, except they apparently can’t be trusted to direct GoldieBlox commercials.

    That’s not empowering, that’s condescending.

    There’s a reason that only 1% of Oscar award-winning directors are female, and it’s not a lack of talent. It’s a lack of opportunities. Every traditional path to a wider audience (like directing commercials, as Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Jon Favreau, Michael Bay, Spike Jonze and countless others have taken advantage of), is dominated by men. As long as brands are creating ‘uplifting messages’ aimed at women, celebrating women, but only trusting men to direct their stories, women will remain right where they are, locked out of directing as a career.

  4. Well said, Melissa G. !

  5. northwesterner says:

    ” While advertisements are—at their core—just marketing ploys for our chronically capitalist society.” But I see such marketing ploys in the form of ads on this website. Time to get rid of them?

    How wonderful to speak such disdain of informing others of your product or service — particularly when I, as a woman, am heavily involved in such marketing by my running of a marketing comm business. Thanks.

  6. Lois Loan says:

    Companies are using feminism to sell you products. It’s that simple. Here’s what an hones commercial for Always would look like:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpLm7Z23ol4

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