2017 was a pivotal year for women. There was the Women’s March denouncing a president who faces sexual assault allegations. The Weinstein scandal that shook the world and prompted the viral #MeToo campaign. The times women were fearless, wondrous, ran for office in record numbers, swept the Emmys, and reclaimed their time.
If the first week of 2018 is any indication, this year should be a powerful one. The momentum of change wouldn’t be complete without transparency, honesty, and a willingness to address our murky past before we can arrive at a better future. Last night’s Golden Globes were just that. From speeches that spoke of the new day on the horizon, monologues and jokes that addressed the sexual allegations head on, and a dress code designed to stand with those who have suffered, the traditionally light-hearted awards ceremony traded jest for social justice.
This intense (and glorious) cultural movement towards gender equality and a safer, better world for women is becoming all the more pervasive and we’re looking forward to seeing the advertising world follow suit in the year ahead. It seems an unlikely brand is kicking things off. American Apparel may be the biggest perpetrator of advertisements that are anything but respective of women. Well before having one of their adverts banned for sexualizing schoolgirls, they’ve had a long-standing history of controversial, borderline pornographic ads. They claimed edge but audiences cried sexism. Therefore, it’s a welcome surprise to see the fashion brand adopting a new approach.
After shutting down all of its retail locations and filing for bankruptcy, the American retailer has come back with a new strategy to promote sexiness without the sexism, led by an all-female exec team. With calls for diversity of every type – age-appropriate and everyday models, minimally retouched images, and non-gender specific power poses – this new era of advertising for the brand comes at exactly the right time. Despite some backlash that the imagery is still risqué, it’s a step in the right direction (that we hope is a genuine shift in brand culture, not just a PR ploy).
Women were dealt a tough hand in 2017 and still came out on top. Male allies joined the fight, an industry joined together in acts of resistance, we honored the silence breakers, and we’re finally, collectively starting to have conversations that are decades – centuries, really – overdue. We’ve written before about the necessity and power of brands taking a stand and look forward to seeing which will rise to the occasion in the upcoming months.
Photo credits: JC Dela Cuesta (top post) and Julien Laurent (bottom post).