CDM New York's Carolyn O'Neill on 'femvertising'

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I have to put it out there: I'm a feminist. And if you work in healthcare advertising, chances are you are a feminist, or at least a “femvertist,” too. That's because women's health brands have led the recent wave of #femvertising. That's advertising that employs pro-female talent, messages, and imagery to empower women and girls (as coined and defined by Sheknows Media).

Campaigns like Always' #LikeAGirl have propelled brands to new heights of engagement and recognition. Other brands have missed the mark, with an apparent belief that once you hashtag it, they will come. So what sets truly great campaigns apart? Putting the woman before the brand, creating a real emotional connection, and, last but definitely not least, rewarding content that people actually want to engage with.

Carolyn O'Neill is associate partner and executive creative director at CDM New York.

See also: Mother New York fills resume gaps with 'The Pregnancy Pause'



Campaign: #ActuallySheCan
Company: Allergan
Agency: Faith Popcorn BrainReserve

#ActuallyPharmaCan create an above-brand campaign that connects with millennials. This successful campaign — which challenges the common phrase “I can't even” to empower informed health decisions — deserves continued recognition for content and relevancy. (Check out the short film series directed by notable female directors and introduced at last year's Tribeca Film Festival).



Campaign: Silence Sucks
Company: Sage Therapeutics
Agency: Concentric Health Experience

This campaign caught my eye on the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Simple yet powerful imagery confronts the silence that surrounds postpartum depression and encourages women to speak up. It's a clear message that's well executed.



Campaign: #RealBodyBottles
Company: Dove
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather London

The U.K.-based #RealBodyBottles campaign, intended to spread body confidence, has sparked a Twitter-storm of humor, disbelief, and even outrage. The response was clear: no one wants to see herself objectified in a bottle of body wash. It's a recent and rare misstep for the Real Beauty campaign.


Campaign: #RealMoms
Company: Baby Dove
Agency: Razorfish

Dove is back on message with the #RealMoms campaign for the launch of Baby Dove. The campaign tackles the unattainable standard of the perfect mom. “There are so many ways to be a mom. Do what fits your family. Trust your way.” The launch video features a stay-at-home mom, a single mom, a transgender mom, and a breakdancing mom, among others. As a sometimes-overstressed-commuting mom, this one hit home for me.



Campaign: Manboobs4boobs
Company: Macma
Agency: David, Buenos Aires

How do you promote breast self-examination on social media when images of women's nipples are banned? By using man boobs, of course. This brilliantly clever video about a deadly serious issue went viral and became “the most viewed and shared breast self-examination video ever.”



Campaign: Sister Pact
Company: Genentech
Agency: Healthwork (powered by BBDO and Patients & Purpose)

After The New York Times reported that a disproportionate percentage of African-American women in certain cities are dying from breast cancer, Genentech responded with Sister Pact. This campaign is notable not only for its local focus, but for how it taps into women's trusted and personal relationships to encourage commitment to regular mammograms and breast health.



Campaign: Empowerment Feels Good
Company: Emojibator
Agency: Terri & Sandy

Emojibator is tapping into the women's equality movement to address the last taboo subject of all (and also sell a few assistive devices). Funny and bold, this campaign both exemplifies and satirizes the latest wave of femvertising.  In short, it's worth checking out (and not to state the obvious, but this one is rated M for mature.)

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