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The Role of Feminist Art in Marketing

FEMINIST ART - I found the following image below on a website for IT staff in Toronto.

And it got me thinking...

Thinking about the role feminism plays in marketing and advertising.

Let me put it this way... approx. 70% of all new cars in North America and Europe are purchased by women. (If only the same was true of truck sales.)

Automakers have learned from this and when designing cars and marketing cars, they are now primarily designed with women in mind... and its done so often in a duality.

#1. To appeal to women.

#2. To appeal to men trying to attract women.

The BMW Z3 is a good historical example of this. Normally BMW cars are boxy and boring, appealing to Toronto accountants, lawyers and businessmen... very stale. But in the BMW Z3's case what happened was BMW did a lot of marketing research and decided to market the car more to women when they realized women are more likely to buy new cars and more importantly women have specific tastes when picking a car... namely women prefer cars with curves. So says the market research.

And to take care of both items #1 and #2 above, they paid big bucks to have the car featured in the first James Bond movie starring Pierce Brosnan... who, small surprise, stars opposite a Russian amazon hacker with beauty and brains.

But I think the most important part of that film was not the hacker femme fatale... it was the introduction of the new M, played by Dame Judy Dench. A class act and a smart move on part of the whole James Bond franchise. This was no doubt deliberate and an attempt by the producers to make the new James Bond more friendly to women and feminists alike (as opposed the ol' Sean Connery James Bond who frequently slapped women around and twisted their arms behind their backs, threatening to break them).

Next lets talk about another cultural phenomenon... women buying shoes. Its true, women do buy a lot of shoes. We just do. Just do it. Don't blame Nike, they only clued in on this a long time and Nike has been marketing heavily to women ever since. The ad below of a woman doing yoga whilst wearing Nike shoes (and other Nike clothing) is an excellent example of Nike using feminist art to get their message across.

Next lets talk about the mother of all marketing campaigns... the TOBACCO INDUSTRY. You know, those horrible bastards who tricked people into starting smoking because it helps "keep you thin".

The example on the right is just that, an example. One of MANY cigarette advertisements marketed towards women using feminism and freedom as a ploy to sell cancer.

The image below from Virginia Slims is another prime example... you've come along way baby is just sleazy and condescending.

Can I have more patriarchy in my advertising please? *sarcasm*

The point I am trying to make here is that feminism (as opposed to the classic "sex sells") is also used to sell products to women. Marketing is often a blunt tool.

We don't mind it so much when feminism is used to sell us plain things like Nike shoes and what not... but when we're being sold cigarettes and breast implants its annoying and we get the itch to throw rocks at the advertising industry.

Take the photo below from a website which sells sunrooms. No big deal. Who WOULDN'T want a sunroom? (I think conceptually sunrooms appeal more to women. Men probably wouldn't see the purpose in having a room you can relax and enjoy the sun in, without pesky insects buzzing around.) The woman in the photo looks athletic. Determined. As if she is looking at the sun and getting ready to go running around like an amazon doing all sorts of exercises.

Next on my list is an image from an Ottawa windows manufacturer. No feminism here. Just a smiling blonde apparently overjoyed by her new windows. Huzzah for capitalism. So which is better? Feminist looking out the window, or happy homemaker enjoying her new windows? I think the feminist image is more provocative. That image makes me think there is an exciting story behind it. The happy homemaker in contrast looks like she is about to go bake cookies and maybe tickle a toddler (no offense to mothers out there, you go girls, but I hope you are getting my point here).

So yeah, don't mind a little feminism in the regular advertising. Nike, you go girl. Just do it.

But I'd argue the best use of feminist art is promoting something with an actual purpose beyond capitalism and commercialism. Like the "Because I Am A Girl" campaign. Women doing athletic and intelligent things for a good cause. More of that please.

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