Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

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Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

The good, the bad, and the super offensive.

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Advertising speaks volumes about a product, a service or a group of people and this tool has been wielded since time immemorial to make sure people listen and follow. Powerful ads have evolved from being overtly direct, as with Campbell’s Soup, to political and culture-changing as they move with the times.

What is particularly striking about today’s ads is their focus on women and female empowerment movements to entice this increasingly financially independent market group to either support a mission or just go ahead and buy their product. On the opposite side of the spectrum, however, there remain ads that don’t seem to have evolved much from the olden times and view women as objects with no feelings or human traits.

Urbanette has compiled some of the most compelling and offensive print ads through the years that involve females:

THE GOOD: Empowering Ads

Aparecida just shows that women are the boss — and deserve only the fine things in life!

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Nike Ad: “My butt is big and round like the letter C and ten thousand lunges has made it rounder, but not smaller. And that’s just fine. It’s space heater for my side of the bed. It’s my embassador to those who walk behind me. It’s a border collie that herds skinny women away from the best deals at clothing sales. My butt is big and that’s just fine, and those who might scorn it are invited to just kiss it.” Just Do It.

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Our favorite Nike ad of all time: “A women is often measured by the things she cannot control. She is measured by the way her body curves or doesn’t curve, by where she is flat or straight or round. She is measure by 36-34-36 and inches and ages and numbers by all the outside things that don’t ever add up to who she is on the inside. And so if a women is to be measured, let her be measured by the things she can control, by who she is and who she is trying to become. Because as every women knows, measurements are only statistics and STATISTICS LIE.”

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

THE BAD: Objectifying and Sexist Ads

Hard to admit, but true: despite the strong societal support for the female empowerment movement worldwide, advertising seems to hold a very different (and offensive) view of women that continues to this day.

To sell products, an ad is made to be eye-catching by bordering on titillating because, well, sex sells. Unfortunately, women remain at the bottom of the advertising pyramid as the most likely subjects to get a would-be consumer’s attention or to drive a point across.

While the smarter of those in the advertising sphere laud women and their heroism as mothers, sisters, achievers, many others place women in unlikely situations or positions and mask the intention as a “marketing strategy,” saying things like “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the oven.”

These ads are not only sexist, but very often straight-up misogynistic — and they are everywhere. Although they may seem funny and quirky at first, over time they become offensive and manipulative. Women in sexist advertising materials, despite efforts to rise above the 1930s, are once again reduced to mere playthings.

Here are some of the sexist ads that have made it to print and worldwide circulation, showing how the world of advertising has evolved (or NOT evolved!). Let us know what you think.

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

       Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

[…Because the sex is all that was worth remembering…?]

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

[Obviously insinuating that women’s affections can be bought.]

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

[Ad glamorizing rape.]

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

[As if this is the only part of a woman that matters when it comes to choosing who to have sex with.]

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

[Another ad glamorizing rape.]

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

[The woman above has a black eye and has clearly been beaten.]

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

[Sub-heading (intended for men): “Milk helps you take back what’s yours”]

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

[Yet another ad glamorizing rape – gang rape this time.]

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

[…Because women can’t handle such complex concepts…?]

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

[We’d like to think that Ryanair is about half a century behind the times.]

Women in Ads: The Good & The Bad

[Gnarly.]

Want to make a difference?

When you see a sexist ad, you can always email the publication you saw it in, and the company it’s advertising, and tell them how offensive you thin the ad is, and how it’s guaranteed that you’ll never buy their product or publication again. Every email makes a difference, because advertisers assume that for every email they get, there’s 100 (or 1000) others out there who feel the same way.

Did we miss any? Have any thoughts on these ads?

Originally from Denver and now living in NYC, Angie has been writing since she was small. She lives in the Flatiron district with her partner Tanya and their mutt Sparky (always adopt!) In her spare time she loves to paint (mostly abstract) and talk to random people on the street to find out what's interesting to them.

Reader Discussion: 5 Comments

  1. I will definitely follow that advice! I want to make a difference and will email the publication! An email matters 🙂 I don't want my children to grow up thinking that these kinds of ads are appropriate and "acceptable."

  2. First of all…who in their mind would publish these ads? (I couldn't believe the one with the man on top of the woman carpet!) Before people create these ads, there needs to be respect for women. We definitely can stop sexist ads by speaking out and respectfully contacting these companies.

  3. Hannah Mayers

    Advertising MAKES or BREAKS! Advertising can either boost one’s self-confidence OR lowers one’s self-esteem. Sad but true, advertisers are just concerned of sales. More often than not, they don’t even think of how their “subjects” will be viewed by others after the advertisement comes out or how customers and viewers will decode the message of their advertisements.

    I believe, at some point, advertisements should be regulated or at least be provided with some guidelines.

  4. These ads are so shocking…I mean, everyone knows that ads use women's bodies as objects, but actually looking at them is always pretty disheartening. I didn't know emailing ad companies was such an effective option; it's good to know there's actually something I can do!

  5. Jen Spillane

    Oh my…I'm well aware of the use of sex in today's advertisements, but I was blown away by the absolute lack of subtlety (not to mention the obvious lack of respect), in the older ads. I thought the older ads would at least make their points less obvious. Weren't they developed in the "good old days?" I know…that's a false concept in and of itself, but still. To think that older people look at today's generation and think we're out of control…

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