Just a bunch of times brands really fucked up their ‘feminist’ campaigns


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Just a bunch of times brands really fucked up their ‘feminist’ campaigns

Femvertising gone wrong

As more and more companies try to get on board with the whole equality thing, their advertising teams are no exception. From diversity to inclusivity, ad campaigns are targeting women through #empowerment – a tactic known as ‘femvertising‘.

But appealing to the modern *woke* woman isn’t always straightforward. Some of the ads made in the name of femvertising come off as insincere or preachy, while some seem an awful lot like they’re telling you to kick mugs in men’s faces.

Not all tone deaf advertising campaigns are created equal, but here is a brief history of some of the most questionable feminist advertising campaigns that the world has given us:

Boohoo and #allgirls

Fashion giant boohoo’s latest advertising campaign has not impressed the internet. The 30-second ad released on Monday celebrates ‘girls of all ages, going through different life stages’ but for an ad that professes to be for #allgirls except disabled women, plus-sized women and trans women, all of which were absent from the campaign.

And people definitely noticed.


Audi and their soap box Super Bowl ad

Earlier this year, Audi launched its #DriveProgress campaign with a 60-second ad at the Super Bowl. Following around a little girl in a soap box car, the advert preached that Audi of America was committed to equal pay for equal work.

Unfortunately for Audi, the internet is a thing. It wasn’t long before it was revealed that the new face of women’s rights has absolutely no women on their executive board, prompting many to believe they were doing this just for show.

Shea Moisture and Hair Hate

Encouraging women to love and embrace their natural hair sounds empowering, but Shea Moisture sure did face a backlash when they started doing just that in April. The company was founded in 1991 for black women; fast forward 26 years and their Hair Hate ad features one black woman and two white women, talking about their struggle to accept their natural hair.

Critics thought the comparison between hair hate that blonde and redheaded white women get and the hair hate that black women face was pretty inexcusable.

The advert ended up getting pulled. Try again.

Bianco’s ‘Equal pay is not enough’

The Danish footwear brand used its January 2017 advert to talk about how much more expensive it is to be a woman in this world than a man, touching on how things like clothes, haircuts and underwear less expensive for men. Maybe the feminism is watered down, but the advert had a point, suggesting that equal pay is not enough anymore.

That is, until the women in the advert started jumping on cars and attacking men with high heels and coffee cups.

People weren’t too happy about that.

Wrangler and #MoreThanABum

I’m pretty sure everyone realized more than we wanted to in 2016. Wrangler realized it was the year to tell women that they were #MoreThanABum.

The EU advert began saying: “It’s time to change the conversation about women”. And how does Wrangler want to change the dialogue surrounding female representation? By following around lots of really successful butts women while the backing music is literally a recording of lots people saying the word “bum”.

Needless to say, people weren’t all that impressed by Wrangler’s faux feminist intentions:

American Apparel’s Next BIG Thing

In 2011, American Apparel proved to anyone who was still in any doubt that just hiring plus-sized models isn’t feminism. Just a year after telling the world plus sizes were not their demographic, the brand put out a call for women “who need a little extra wiggle room” to model their new XL range (read: size 10 to 12).

People were not cool with the idea of American Apparel starting to sexualize plus-size women under the guise of edgy feminism in their pornographic ads.

Cue even more controversy when the woman who received the most votes on their website, Nancy Upton, wasn’t even announced as the winner. Upton, who entered into the contest as a joke with photos of her eating a whole chicken and a bio that read “I just can’t stop eating” was denied the job.

According to American Apparel, they decided to “award the prizes to other contestants that we feel truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out,” and who they “would be proud to have representing [their] company.” Ouch.

Ivanka Trump and whatever it is she’s doing

Ivanka was never going to have it easy with a father like hers, sure. But her new feminist icon makeover is wearing thin. With a Twitter bio that professes her to be an “advocate for the education & empowerment of women & girls” and a book called Women Who Work that practically screams about how lucky women are to have the choice of working, I’m sure she thinks she is full of feminist credentials. I mean just look at her go:

You’d think then she would at least give the contracted workers who design and make the items in her clothing range paid maternity leave so that they can be, you know, women who work?

Elle India and Let her be

The Let Her Be campaign by Elle India earned a big old must try harder sticker when it’s probably well-intentioned feminist advertising campaign sparked a backlash for being classist.

The advert shows middle class women pulling up their tops and pulling down their skirts to cover more skin as people like waiters and taxi drivers come into view. While it’s pretty easy to identify with, it also manages to paint pretty much all working class men as predatory in less than three minutes, accidentally exposing deep class divides.

I guess it must just be really hard to not be at least a little offensive sometimes.


Starbucks’ Race Together campaign

Not technically feminist, but still worth a look. In 2015, Starbucks launched its ‘Race Together’ campaign in a bid to open up the national dialogue on race.

The initiative, that saw baristas writing the phrase ‘Race Together’ on coffee cups, didn’t last very long.

More than anything, people just didn’t seem to think Starbs had the right to try to lead the conversation about race or that baristas were equipped to discuss matters of race over a cash register.

Dove and their weird body bottles

No list of feminist ads would be complete without a little nod to Dove. In the past, they’ve tackled some big topics to sell us body wash and they’ve done it pretty successfully. It was all going so well up until May of 2017 when Dove announced they would be selling different body-shaped bottles to customers in the UK.

People weren’t sure:

Dove weren’t quite on the money – as it turns out women don’t really need to have their bodies reflected back to them in bottle form. Apparently that’s not how you cure insecurity, who knew.

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