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Opinion Editorials

“Girl Power” advertisting: Give me a break

The “Girl Power” advertising angle is starting to wear thin, and marketing at women’s flaws and insecurities is not as effective as it used to be.

girl power whatever

girl power whatever

Enough with the pink already

Let me start this out with a disclaimer. I’m a feminist (and you likely are, too) but the “femvertising” is getting out of hand. Initially, I have to admit, I was in favor. I liked the turn that advertising had taken.

Instead of further encouraging unattainable body standards, obsession with beauty and aging, and defining what it means to be a good mother or successful woman by the products one buys, companies were switching to campaigns that embraced “normal” women. And yes I put that in quotes. Giant exaggerated air quotes.

She’s so brave for existing

I can’t even believe I fell for it. I found myself tearing up over all these “regular” women (again with the quotes) and their different shaped bodies and their “imperfections” that made everything so very “real life” and “OMG” and “relatable.” Are you sick of it yet? The quotes?

Because that’s how it is to be a real woman living through some of these marketing fabricated, exaggerations of femininity. Are there some stupid, ridiculous body images in modern advertising? Yes. Are there still issues with women breaking the metaphorical glass ceiling in business? Yes.

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But us women-folk aren’t as behind the times as you may be imagining. We’re clued into your marketing scheme.

“If she’s crying, she’s buying”

Marketing to your target audience takes some finessing and even some trial and error, so I understand where the concept derived. Yet, while the initial intent may have been good and early successes in with female-centered advertising well-earned, things have started to plummet into the realm of “give me a break already.”

Toronto-based St. John Advertising created a hysterical parody video that leaves one laughing and shaking their head. The satire takes a behind the scenes look into a fictional advertising company employing all the tricks to reach their female demographic.

Between the male employee intensive empathy training, and the signs on the wall that say things like “If she’s crying, she’s buying” this parody sheds a light on how extreme female advertising has become.

Make it real

While I praise the Dove campaigns, and similar, for their attempt at body positivity for women, and for Similac’s Mother “Hood” ad at their attempt to combat the “Mommy Wars,” I challenge businesses to adopt a different marketing mantra. See, it’s not femvertising that sells your product. It’s not women who are the only ones benefiting from your ads.

The emotion you’re tapping into and the reality of insecurities, parenting, achievement, love, loss, pain, joy, are all universal emotions.

Make me cry. Make me laugh. But don’t make a mockery out of real issues and real emotions to sell your bar of soap, baby formula, or peanut butter.

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Written By

Megan Noel, a veteran ex-educator with a PhD in Early Childhood Education, enjoys researching life through the eyes of her two young children, while writing about her family’s adventures on With a nearly a decade in small business and marketing, this freelance writer spends most evenings pouring over new ideas and writing articles, while indulging in good food and better wine.

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