In Medias Res


One of my favorite podcasts is called Stuff Mom Never Told You by Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time driving to and from my hometown and Duluth and that’s about a two and a half hour drive each way. When I drive long distances I really enjoy listening to educational podcasts. One of my other favorite podcasts is called Stuff You Missed in History Class, also by HowStuffWorks. I highly recommend both.

So this episode that I listened to a week or so ago was about this concept called “empowertising”. Here’s the description of the episode because I don’t think I can really describe it well enough:

Ads purporting to sell feminist empowerment might depict women in a better light than sexist ads of yore, but do they actually contribute to gender equality? Cristen and Caroline look at the history of using feminism to sell products to women and whether advertisers’ intentions matter.

Advertising has been an interesting topic to me but always more on the graphic design end of it. I’ve never spent a lot of time thinking about what makes people want to buy things or why.

In the past few years I’ve seen a lot of ads come under scrutiny for their sexist content but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything about explicitly feminist ads.

First I’m going to show you some examples of past and modern sexist ads and then show a few of these empowering ads and discuss some of my opinions about what Cristen and Caroline discussed in the podcast.

Alcoa, 1953
Chase & Sandborn, 1952
Van Heusen, 1951
Burger King
Pepsi, 2011

Those are just a few of the examples that I found and I honestly have no intention to speak about them further because they’re really just disgusting pieces of media in my mind.

Virginia Slims, 1968
Dove, 2014
Under Armour, 2014

This year, SheKnows Media did research regarding #Femvertising, which is essentially just another name for Empowertising. Here’s a link to the article.

The statistics in this article shocked me. Just how men compared to women in how they responded was something that I didn’t expect. The disparity between the groups was honestly kind of scary, to think that men are this ignorant to how bad it is to display women in these degrading, sexual, unrealistic ads.

Definitely check out the ads that won the #Femvertising awards this year. These are ads that are taking a step in the right direction for feminism. Here’s the link!

I think that representation and empowering images are so important in advertising. Everyone needs representation and everyone could use some empowering. I think that advertising and the overall way of thinking of many people in the world needs to be changed. We have a long way to go, that’s for sure, but long strides have been made and that’s really important to acknowledge.

One more thing that I want to talk about before I leave off for this post is this concept of “rebranding feminism”.

In 2013, Elle UK paired up with three advertising brands to rebrand feminism because they thought that feminism had an image problem that needed to be “fixed”. I don’t really know where this thinking came from because feminism cannot be rethought, or rebranded. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a way of thinking that strives for equality for all people. This frustrated me to think about because they essentially treated the advancement of women’s rights as an outdated product that needed to be made cool again. In my opinion, very very wrong Elle.

What do you guys think of the concept of empowertising? Cool? Unnecessary? Making a difference or none at all?

I think this was a very eye opening podcast and I hope you decide to give it a try, and maybe listen to some of their other podcasts as well, there are so many interesting ones that I want to talk about.

Have a nice day everyone!

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