Continuing the Dialogue on Positive Portrayals of Women in Advertising

The Team

Posted on May 03 2017

In our previous posts we discussed the importance of positive portrayals of women in advertising. In particular, we discussed how seeing women adopting positive body language could engender confidence.

With this in mind we incorporated positive body language into a fashion campaign which we named Confidence

It was an interesting exercise and one that we certainly learned from. 

Our campaign met with a mixed reaction. On the plus side we spoke to women who welcomed broader and more positive representations of models. They mentioned, in particular, their concern for young women and girls and the impact unattainable body image standards can have.

On the other side, there were people who considered our models too forthright in their stances. Some said they appeared masculine or aggressive. 

For us, this again brought to mind the well-known saying by Simone de Beavoir - 'Man is defined as a human being and a woman as female - whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male'.

In our discussions with marketing experts we were told that 'people are simply just not used to seeing women in that way'. It was also suggested to us that we replace our diverse models with a more conventional standard.  

While we appreciated that our approach had been perhaps too forward for some, reneging on our commitment to feature a more honest representation of women seemed to us like taking a step backward.  

Our decision was to maintain diversity in our models but to present their body language in a more subtly positive way. We presented this in our latest campaign, Substance

We are aware that rejecting long-accepted norms in fashion marketing can have a commercial impact as customers need time to adjust to change. However, we also know many women want to see a difference in the way models are portrayed in advertising. As a fashion brand, we believe we bear responsibility in this regard. To this end, we will continue to celebrate diversity and honesty in our imagery. 

No doubt responses will again be mixed but as George Bernard Shaw once said 'Progress is impossible without change...'.


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