Femvertising – for women or for profit?

By Zandra Nilsson

After the international movement #metoo the world has opened its eyes for women and their gender-based challenges. Many other movements and hashtags have started to support women’s rights after the campaign. People are now talking about feminism more than I ever heard or experienced before. Feminism has become more mainstream and appealing to a wider audience –which is a benefitable in marketing purposes.

Have you seen Nike´s “Dream Crazier” or Gillette’s “The best men can be”? I have to admit that both of those adverts gave me goosebumps. But just after seeing them I started analyzing my feelings. I felt emotional and happy that these adverts highlighted women’s rights. Nonetheless, what in the world does that have to do with Nike and Gillette? If I buy their stuff, how will that help the society to become more equal? Nike and Gillette are far from the only brands who are using the so called “femvertising”. Other brands such as Always started the campaign #Likeagirl, CoverGirl launched the campaign #GirlsCan and Dove #RealBeauty. Marie Clair, Brewdog, Vodafone, Bodyform, Always, Smirnoff and Spotify, Dove and Wrangler just to mention a few others.



“Feminism is not about individual women, it’s about a collective and communities. Advertising can’t speak to collective politics because it’s about the individual consumer,” – Sarah Banet-Wesier, author and professor of media and communication at the London School of Economics. She spent five years researching about ”popular feminism”.

Feminism has become a tagline. Profiting from this idea and ideology could be seen as misuse – not empowering. Especially since consumers from the Millennial generation prioritize “a good cause” when they choose their brands. But, could the commercial advertising bring some good? Even if their main purpose is for consumers to buy their goods, could they bring us one step closer to a more equal society after all? Watching advertisings about female power will get people talking and maybe give hope. I believe the first step towards change is to talk about it.

On the other hand, if the companies actually want to make a change shouldn’t they act differently? How about: instead of spending incredible sums of money on commercial production make a change for the long term. Change your suppliers to a company ran by females? Give a percentage of the profit to feminist organizations? Make sure that all female employees get the same salary as the male employees? A good example of a brand that I think has succeeded with this is the Swedish Coffee brand Zoegas. Since 2011 they have been buying all their coffee beans from female farmers in different African countries. They use the hashtags #changingcoffee and #coffeebywomen.

In conclusion, I believe the use of female power in a commercial use could be good as long as it really makes a difference for women. If it only gives profit for the brand, it’s just misuse of an ideology because feminism happens to be “trendy” now. Even if the advertising gives me goosebumps.


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