Want Your Ads to Engage Women? Empower Them
ADWEEK|April 25, 2016
Susan Wojcicki

“I’ll make believe that I am you,” the girl says to the doll. With those seven words, Mattel introduced the world to Barbie, America’s first fashion doll. The original commercial, which aired in 1959 (and of course is up on YouTube), shows Barbie in various outfits, from ball gowns to bathing suits. But then, as the music crescendos, we hear those seven words against a lasting image: Barbie in a wedding dress.

That’s the kind of advertising both my mother and I grew up with. Women in commercials were portrayed as either mothers or models, wives or waitresses, with few depictions of the diverse lives we could lead outside of our relationships to men or children.

If we weren’t arm candy, we were eye candy, as scantily clad women promoted everything from beer to cheeseburgers to gym memberships. But recently, we’ve seen some brave advertisers portray women and girls in a new light, one focused on breaking down stereotypes, rather than reinforcing them. From Always’

#LikeAGirl to Nike’s #BetterForIt, women are being encouraged, celebrated, held up not for how they look but for what they can accomplish. And while the latest research from the American Psychological Association shows that sex doesn’t actually sell, it’s clear on YouTube that empowerment engages.

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