The feminist movement is making waves in media, but too many campaigns are still not speaking our language, finds Tiffanie Darke
Cutting through the blah’ was the name of yesterday’s session on how to talk to women. The resurgent feminist movement is beginning to cut through the advertising industry - in the States, campaigns for Dove and Always’s ‘Throw Like A Girl’ have earned themselves the hideous moniker of ‘femvertising’ – over here thankfully we are not calling it this yet, but voices like Caitlin Moran are helping build the success of campaigns like This Girl Can.
These sort of refreshing, honest portrayals of women however, are still the exception rather than the rule. The media is still governed by men and is about men. A recent survey of newspapers found 79% of front-page bylines were male, and 84% of cover stories were about men.
So why is no one talking to women? Why are 9 million women not going to vote in May’s election?
According to Louise Court, editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, it’s because we feel no one is talking our language, they are not in the same place physically or emotionally – or simply that the conversation used to engage us is just a bit boring.
Social media is where the game changes, however. Social allows women to have individual voices – and consequently are dominated by women. ‘It’s the modern day equivalent of chatting over the back fence,’ said Kathy Lette.
Vicki Holgate, head of strategy at FCB Inferno, the agency responsible for This Girl Can, said ‘Role models are very important to women. Simply, there are a lot more voices out on social, so it’s easier to find your tribe and women like you.’
So how can the industry do better? Humour is a powerful tool for talking to women, ‘It allows you to make an opening, to make a statement,’ said the American comedian Susie Essman. ‘It’s subversive, it cuts through the status quo.’
Visually women respond differently – conditioned to be critical of what we see, of judging and being judged, we seek out more information because we search for more criticism. This makes us better at picking up nuances.
Holgate cited how many women responded to the opening frame of This Girl Can, where a swimmer flicks the bottom of her bikini. This is something all women do, all the time, and was a great bit of observation.
Lucy Winkett, the rector of St James’s Church, exhorted advertisers to bring about change: ‘You are the storytellers,’ she said, ‘and stories are just as powerful as laws in parliament in breaking down the barriers to truth.’