The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

What The Hell Is Going On With Women’s Advertising?

So this is going to be an interesting post because I run the risk of being called sexist, old-fashioned, out-of-touch and basically a grumpy old bastard.

However, given I’ve been called waaaaaaay worse over the years – and mainly on this blog – I’m going to keep going regardless.

So a few weeks ago I wrote about a Dior advertising campaign that makes their new lipstick, resemble a cigarette.

Some – basically, John Dodds – argued that I was ‘seeing’ what I wanted to see, but in one of George’s comments, he linked to two photographs that seem to have been inspiration for the style of shot and both of them featured a cigarette as it’s main ‘prop’.

I know that’s not undeniable evidence, but I feel the circumstantial evidence – not to mention the product name, ‘addict’ – makes it seem likely this was the intention behind the imagery. Or should I say, that specific imagery.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is a whole host of shit spouted in mens advertising.

Puerile. Sexist. stupid.

I’m in no way defending that, it’s basically what I write about every single week.

However, I am kind of shocked at how much advertising aimed at women seems to project an image that seems totally at odds with what I’ve been led to believe women like.

Of course, this is nothing new.

Worse, this is something that men helped push.

But while I am a 45 year old man with all the taste and sensitivity of an otter, the fact is I am amazed at some of the stuff I’m seeing out on the streets these days and without doubt, the worst offenders are the beauty category.

Again, this should not be a surprise given the unrealistic body imagery they have been peddling for years – admittedly created by men – but it seem beauty brands have decided their female empowerment messaging [if that is what it was] is not getting enough attention and so to counter this, they’ve adopted the strategy of recreating some of the most sexist advertising of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and simply replaced the man with a woman.

What am I talking about?


Look at it.

Seriously, have a really good look.

Tell me that is not just a crass attempt at recreating a crass ad from the past 20 years.

First there’s the language … “stays on even when you get off”.

Wow, that’s clever isn’t it.

Now let’s look at the imagery … from the young mans dishevelled appearance and unbuttoned jeans to the totally unsubtle shot of the woman’s heels rammed into the walls of the lift to convey she has fucked the poor guy senseless.

It’s all so blatant.

No subtlety, no grace … it’s just tragic.

I don’t even know if they’re trying to target young women or old … it’s just bizarre.

And before anyone accuses me of being sexist, I just want to be clear that the male ads that depicted this sort of thing, were equally as pathetic.

Now some may say this is the ultimate demonstration of ‘female empowerment’ … where a woman can act exactly in the way men have and still do.

Maybe this ad taps into the desire women have to be able to get away with the shit men have gotten away with for centuries.

Maybe, by me finding this demeaning to women rather than empowering, I’m showing I’m old and insecure.

But the thing is I think women are worth more than this.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re also worth more than the superficial ’empowerment’ messages brands have been pushing for years – messages designed to sound good but ultimately constructed to sell their products – but they’re absolutely, definitely, comprehensively worth more than this.

I’d love to know who did it.

I’d love to know the rationale behind it.

I’d love to know who they were trying to target.

I’d love to know if this is the sort of thing intelligent women want to rally around.

But most of all, I’d love to know why all these brands are only focused on female equality.

Why go for just equal.

The thing is, as I talked about in a post about Brian Clough a while back, I have absolute faith that if women were in charge, they wouldn’t aspire to do what men do, but to do things better, which reminds me of the Marilyn Monroe quote:

“Women who want to be like men lack ambition”.

Maybe it’s time brands and advertising embraced that viewpoint as well.

28 Comments so far
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If I know one thing about women it’s they will never leave their shoes behind.

Comment by Bazza

You’ll be hearing from my lawyer.

Comment by An otter

I’ll be a character witness for you.

Comment by DH

campbell. if youd have said a dead fucking otter, you would have been fine.

Comment by andy@cynic

Leaving aside the fact that I wasn’t exactly saying what you think I was saying re the addict ads, I’ll magnanimously agree with you here. Too much advertising is a cliched representation of the target audience rather than an exploration of how that which is being advertised can enrich their life.

This one reeks of men remembering the movies of their youth and justifying the cliche because it shows what they think an empowered woman looks like i.e. a woman who wants what infantile men want.

Comment by John

You’re so right John, even the woman looks like some throwback to a 1980’s movie.

Comment by Rob

So basically some cougar boss has fucked an intern and is trying to kill him by getting his tie stuck in the lift doors. I don’t see why you find that a ridiculous premise to sell a lipstick Rob.

Comment by DH

This should be an ad for her hairspray not her lipstick. If she can screw someone in the lift that her shoes get buried in the walls but her hair doesn’t move an inch, that’s impressive hold.

Comment by DH

Or her dress … no creases whatsoever.

Comment by Rob

Or deodorant … no pespiration either.

Comment by Rob

It is rubbish for all the reasons you have stated Robert. Mary knows someone at Benefit. I am confident this will be their next topic of conversation.

Comment by George

From what I’ve seen of cosmetics companies, chances are it was a female brand manager who approved this.

Comment by Ian Gee

Fuck… That’s a great ad. With the bazillion award shows around this will win a Brazil agency the “Golden Dildo” in the artisanal, holistic, shagarific, big data, Internet of Wanks category at Cannes. It’s obviously created by an agency in China… Oooops!
Cheers/George “AdScam” Parker

Comment by George Parker

I’d be amazed if this was done in China, George.

From a communication perspective, they’re more puritanical than even the Yanks.

Comment by Rob

thing is campbell, unless youre in mexico or brazil theres no fucking way youd have an featuring an old man coming out a lift having obviously fucked the intern. no fucking way. hollywood and daytime tv still do it but adland doesnt because apart from being sexist shit, its plain shit advertising. everything about this is bollocks right down to the woman cast for the fucking predator role. which makes me wonder who the fuck designed this shit. was it a couple of old guys trying to recapture their creative hack youth or some young women trying to show their balls by doing something “unexpected”. its wank. plain and fucking simple.

Comment by andy@cynic

on the plus, its not a piece of last minute for cannes entry wpp scam.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s funny you say that because there’s a bunch of blatant scam coming out of WPP’s agencies right now – predominantly JWT.

One of the worst is this

I’m writing a massive blog rant about it soon, even you will like it. Or at least a bit.

Comment by Rob

holy motherfucker that is fucking shit. wpp are a bunch of scum fucking whore hacks.

Comment by andy@cynic

I hope WPP shareholders see this.

Comment by George

This is the best comment ever.

I need to know who did it. Then I need to know who signed it off.

Comment by Rob

Which one is the best comment ever?

Comment by John

Not yours John …

Comment by Rob

Of course not.

Comment by John

Just to be clear, I had nothing to do with it.
But I’d get in a lift with her.

Comment by Billy Whizz

She would get out if you got in.

Comment by DH

She wouldn’t be in the service elevator.

Comment by John


Comment by Lee Hill

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