Can a two-and-a-half minute video eliminate decades of objectifying women in advertising?
That’s the idea behind #WomenNotObjects, a new campaign from agency exec Madonna Badger. The video starts with a search of “objectification of women” on Google and turns up decades of sexism. The video goes on to shame several brands, like DirecTV, Dodge and Burger King, by having the women who appeared in the ads make snide comments about the ads they were in.
“I love sacrificing my dignity for a drink,” says a model who had appeared in an old Skyy Vodka ad being straddled by a man. “I love giving blow jobs to sandwiches,” another model sarcastically says, holding up the racy 2009 Burger King ad she appeared in that was pulled in Singapore.
Here’s the video:
The criticism comes from within the industry. Badger’s agency, Badger and Winter, created the hashtag and vows her agency, which represents Vera Wang, Nordstrom and Diane von Furstenberg, to stop using women as objects placed in sexually suggestive situations.
“I love my job but I don’t want to do it if it hurts anyone,” Badger told the Wall Street Journal.
The #WomenNotObjects video has racked up 500,000 views since its release on Jan. 11. The hashtag has also been used 700 times according to data from Brandwatch, with the sentiment being overwhelmingly positive from people praising the message. Notably, 76 percent of people using the hashtag is from women.
While noble, Badger’s campaign doesn’t point out anything new since using sex appeal is a proven tactic within the advertising industry. Even Badger, who created those legendary Calvin Klein ads that showed a topless Kate Moss, said she’s guilty of it too. “If I said I never did it, I would be a liar,” she admitted to the WSJ.
Still, the industry is evolving — or at least becoming more self-aware. For example, Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign showing women of all sizes and The Limited recently used real store associates for its latest promotion last September. (Ironically, Unilever, the conglomerate that owns Dove, also sells Axe deodorant and body spray, which feature some of the most blatantly sexist advertising out there).
We reached out to some of the brands in Badger’s video, but have not heard back from many of them. Ram said its ad is not “indicative” of the ads it currently runs.