Women’s portrayal in advertising evolving, exhibition shows

From high-heeled housewives holding cleaning spray, to bikini-clad models draped over cars, advertising has been representing women through a male lens for decades. But thanks to the growing number of female creative directors, photographers, typographers, art directors and others, the ad world’s portrayal of women is changing – and London’s Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency recently celebrated this movement through a public ‘feminist’ ad exhibition in their lobby, according to a recent article.

Titled, There’s a Good Girl, the lobby-turned-gallery featured a collection of 20 works from top female creatives usually commissioned by the agency, all based on an open brief: Create whatever they wanted, as long as it fit under the exhibition title – which is based on Marianne Grabrucker’s 1998 international bestseller about attempting to raise her daughter in a non-gendered way.

The result? Works which challenged advertising’s traditional images associated with women, from domestic appliances to body parts. For example, creative Nancy Fouts reworked a 1988 Silk Cut ad she’d done, originally featuring an iron with spikes (about to cut through silk). For her exhibition piece, however, she replaced the spikes with fairy lights, which surrounded a burnt-in image of the Virgin Mary. The image was a satirical take on the ‘domestic goddess,’ according to the article. View more works and their descriptions, here.

Here at Venus, we think it’s refreshing to see not only the prominence of women in advertising roles, but also the evolution of how females are portrayed in ad, as a result. We hope Saatchi & Saatchi’s event inspires more agencies to consider how they represent women in the future. Not only do female audiences respond better to authenticity in ad, but we as advertisers also have a societal responsibility to portray women in both an accurate and positive light.

To find out more about women’s roles – in the advertising business or in ad – just give us a call: (03) 9685 5200.