Are brands failing to represent women in ad campaigns?

In the same week that new research revealed that London women feel excluded from the capital’s advertising, the likes of Reebok, Jordan Brand and Calvin Klein have launched empowering campaigns. But, do they hit the spot?

City Hall and University College London recently surveyed 2,000 women and found that just 26% of adverts in London were relevant to them (for example, either their body size wasn’t reflected or women were over-sexualised in revealing clothing). Compare this to over 55s and more than half simply feel invisible.

So, the Mayor of London (cue the obligatory Sadiq swoon) is offering £500,000 of free digital OOH advertising across TfL’s network to the brand with the best pitch that will challenge gender stereotypes and reflect the city’s rich diversity, as part of the new Women We See initiative.

This isn’t just a lock, stock and two smoking barrels tactic to ensure controversial brands like Protein World don’t slip through the net again. Remember that ‘Beach Body Ready?’ campaign that went down like a lead balloon?

This is about credibly bringing ethnic and LGBT+ female minorities to the forefront of campaigns to represent everyone.

Calvin Klein Women

Calvin Klein Women fragrance campaign

CK’s Instagram advertising campaign to launch its new fragrance features Lupita Nyong’o and Saoirse Ronan, alongside the iconic women who have helped shape their identities. From Eartha Kitt to Katherine Hepburn, the project oozes class, glamour and strength in a very credible, authentic and natural way.

Not only do Lupita and Saoirse seem incredibly natural in the marketing assets, but they also help denote that this is more than just pushing product; it’s about recognising individuality.

  • Diversity rating (culture, ethnicity, age): 3/5. Not only a good ethnic mix, but it also makes reference to iconic women through the ages. However the celebrities are young and don’t necessarily relate to older women. But, there is no reason why the campaign couldn’t be followed up with different ambassadors.
  • Observations: Just like the fragrance, it’s refreshing to be served with light, uncluttered imagery, with messages that don’t ‘over sell’. This subtle approach works, and makes those who interact with it feel like they’re in safe hands.
  • Prime Time rating: 4/5

Jordan x Vogue

Jordan Brand x Vogue collection

Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour has signed off two iconic Jordan Brand sneakers (with another in the pipeline for September) as part of the brand’s first ever women’s-only collection.

Inspired by Ms Wintour’s signature suits and sunglasses, the product features a soft leather upper, a sexy zip down the tongue and the ‘AWOK’ moniker (for Anna Wintour OK, her sign off on editorial content) on the sole and tongue. For colour schemes, women can currently opt for a bold red version or traditional white / ivory edition – both of which come with an ‘edited by Vogue’ tag.

  • Diversity rating (culture, ethnicity, age): 2/5. Jordan is doing what Jordan does best – letting the trainers do all the talking. The short video featuring Anna Wintour is mildly amusing but the storyboard seems slightly unbelievable and stifled. Anna may be iconic but as a white, upper class high-powered female, she certainly doesn’t represent all women.
  • Observations: The brands on their own are very self-indulgent. There is no ‘do good’ element here. So much so, a portion of the profits will actually be going to Vogue, according to the press release’s vague description. Women may champion these brands, but will quickly recognise that the campaign only goes skin deep.
  • Prime Time rating: 5/5 (Jordan) 2/5 (campaign)


Reebok: Be More Human

Ariana Grande for Reeboks #BeMoreHuman campaign

Reebok is supporting women’s charities – The Movemeant Foundation and The Women’s Strength Coalition – through its latest Be More Human campaign, featuring chart dominator Ariana Grande, millennial model Gigi Hadid and Wonder Woman Gal Gadot.

Through a series of films and creative used to promote 10 limited edition shirts featuring a message from one of the brand’s ambassadors, the campaign inspires others to be their ‘best self’. And, unlike Vogue which will be taking a portion of the Jordan sales for itself, Reebok is committed to donated 100% of the purchase price to charity, to be split equally.

What I like about this campaign, is that it gives fans another way to participate in the campaign mission by donating in sweat. For those who post a work out selfie using the #BeMoreHuman hashtag on Twitter or Instagram, Reebok will make a further donation to the charities.

  • Diversity rating (culture, ethnicity, age): 4/5. Yes, the campaign piques consumers’ interest with the A-listers, but the sports brand has been wise enough to include a diverse range of influencers on this campaign. These individuals include: Reese Scott, Founder of Women’s World of Boxing; Shannon Kim Wagner, Founder of the Women’s Strength Coalition; and Jenny Gaither, Founder and CEO of Movemeant Foundation – further proof that the brand is committed to celebrating women’s strength in all forms.
  • Observations: Through its digital channels, Reebok is driving people to find out more about the charities its supporting, to drive change for women everywhere – creating a ripple effect much broader than the campaign itself.
  • Prime Time rating: 4/5

Do these advertising campaigns represent you? What makes you think twice about a campaign? Leave a comment below or tweet Prime Time on @dmhwhite.

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