The way I see it, ads serve to market things to the people by connecting with and appealing to them. What better way to appeal to the public than having their ads reflect and align with the present culture of the society?
A new trend that I’ve recently noticed in advertisement is the rise of women empowerment and gender equality ads. These are some of the “hot” topics in the media these days. Everyone has an opinion, and I’d bet money that the majority opinion is pro-women’s empowerment and equality. So it would make perfect sense that present-day ads would want to pick up on this growing trend and cash in on it.
If you look at ads from the past, women were rarely shown in a positive, and definitely far from empowering, light (even though such a large percentage of ads were aimed at moms, wives, and teenage girls).
Check out this Head& Shoulders commercial from the 1960s:
The women here seem to spend their days making decisions around what they think will impress men and get them noticed. It subtly sends the message “hey, you need to buy our product because it’ll bring you closer to looking like a supermodel and as a woman, perfect outer-beauty is the thing that matters the most.” While I don’t find the ad outright demeaning (come on, there’s some level of honesty in the sentiment!), I don’t see it as sending any kind of positive message as well.
But if you take a look at some of the latest commercials that have come out, you’ll realize that advertisement has done a complete 180!
Have a look at this new Pantene commercia, which has a very clear focus on gender equality:
Clearly, this ad tries to capture this new version of what it means to be a woman; a modern woman. In this ad, women do more than go on ski trips and spend their time worrying about a dry scalp. They are executives at large companies, promising politicians, and overall very successful and confident women.
This shift in the way women are perceived in advertising very clearly shows that marketing is less an ocean, and more a waterfall. It is not stagnant, and it changes with the way society changes because it IS society, and it manages to capture and express the honest opinions of millions of people in just thirty seconds!