The Birth Of An Idea: Ads To Rebrand Girls

Fast Company asked several of the most creative ad agencies in the world to rebrand baby girls. Their mock campaigns recast girls as the No. 1 choice for consumers from China to the U.S.

Everybody Shout

Target Demo: Men Around the World

The Ad Folks:
Shout is part of She Says, a network of 3,000 ad women who collaborate outside their day jobs on campaigns directed at women.

Their Campaign Strategy:
This ad shouts what studies suggest--that female leaders can be more empathetic and inspirational. The ad evokes movie posters because its creators "expect to see plenty of successful females coming soon to a corporation, startup, or Oval Office near you."

Cramer-Krasselt

Target Demo: U.S. Couples

The Ad Folks:
This Chicago-based agency is America's second-largest indie and has worked with Corona, Hilton, and Porsche.

Their Campaign Strategy:
Ads mock the conventional choice by presenting challenging, funny facts about raising boys. National print ads, signage in pregnancy-test sections of drugstores, and QR (quick-response) codes on boys' clothing in retail outlets steer prospective parents to more data at hopeitsagirl.com.

AKQA

Target Demo: Affluent Women in China

The Ad Folks:
This digital agency headquartered in San Francisco has done campaigns for Heineken, Gap, Nike, and the Xbox 360.

Their Campaign Strategy:
To help rural Chinese see women as precious, ads will nudge urban professionals, whose cultural influence is vast. The character on the lips is the female version of the word ni ("you"). The ad aims to speak to those who know they have value and those who don't yet see that.

Leo Burnett

Target Demo: U.S. Men and Women

The Ad Folks:
Chicago's legendary agency currently handles Allstate, Proctor & Gamble, McDonald's--and many more.

Their Campaign Strategy:
The "Accidental Daughters" campaign would use humor and irreverence to upset stereotypes. First up would be Amy Poehler, followed by a series of other successful, iconoclastic women, like Lady Gaga.

72andSunny

Target Demo: U.S. Younger Males

The Ad Folks:
From L.A. and Amsterdam, these are the people who brought you K-Swiss sneakers "sponsored by" Kenny Powers.

Their Campaign Strategy:
With cheeky fake blurbs, this campaign appeals to would-be dads by hyping baby girls as the "high-performance" child. The downloadable configurator app borrows from popular high-performance automobile apps. Your girl as a souped-up Mustang--that's an equation a guy can love.

LatinWorks

target demo: U.S. Men and Women

The Ad Folks:
The Austin indie has created popular campaigns for Domino's and Starburst in the Hispanic market.

Their Campaign Strategy:
In a world that holds to a lot of false generalizations about women, this campaign simply aims to push facts that paint a favorable picture of girls. Many boys are loyal and compassionate--but according to the data, girls have those traits more often.

Everybody Shout

Target Demo: U.S. Males

The Ad Folks:
A team of female creatives from the She Says advertising network, which goes under the agency name Shout, created a series of provocative ads, including a concept titled, "Do It for Her."

Their Campaign Strategy:
The ad makes a case for why girls deserve a chance in a heartfelt, yet provocative way. The "positions" series could be a campaign that also becomes a series of stunts to get people talking about the many reasons why they "do it," including quirky yet, uh, educational executions. Point is: However you do it--just do it for her.

Cramer-Krasselt

Target Demo: U.S. Males

The Ad Folks:
For our challenge, the competition between the two offices of Cramer-Krasselt pitted two of their creative teams in two different offices--Milwaukee and Chicago--to compete for the top ad spot. The Milwaukee team's "Hope It's A Girl" campaign made it into the magazine but their second runner-up, "Don't Diss Daughters" was too good to leave on the cutting room floor.

Their Campaign Strategy:
The message is a humorous reality check: your future little girl doesn't get to choose you either. A fully-function website, www.dontdissdaughters.com, helps drive the point home: before you go dissing girls, take a good look at yourself as a future dad.

Cheil North America

Target Demo: Women, Future Parents In China/Global Market

The Ad Folks:
The award-winning global marketing company, headquartered in South Korea (with offices in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada) specializes in Asian markets and has been the longtime agency of Samsung.

Their Campaign Strategy:
Here, the potential of a young woman is realized--in the form of an ad for a bestselling book by a fictional future CEO. That is, if she had been allowed to be born. The exploration of that thwarted potential is sobering and impactful--yet still remains optimistic.

Related:
The Case For Girls
Louis C.K.: The Next Steve Jobs Will Be a Chick

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25 Comments

  • Jm Mac

    Obviously democracy needs to be stopped, so these problems can be solved. Problems like the hypocritical sexist bigotry of this "ad campaign"; and problems like "76% of boys set things you love on fire"; and problems like not seeing that eugenics is the solution to all these problems.

  • Zimmy

    An ad demonizing girls wouldn't be tolerated but the misandrists can only think in one direction.
    Today, I've watched television commercials and saw men being kicked, punched, made fun of and admonished by 'superior' women. Not one commercial portrayed women in a negative light. It just isn't acceptable in our "patriarchal' world (sarcasm).

    I'm damn sick and tired of it and I do not buy merchandise from advertisers who see humor when only . men are demeaned.

  • HL

    Wow I am a bit surprised at the below comments. I don't think the men below understand what it is like to be a woman in a third world or developing county. Remember gentlemen (and in some cases ladies) that here in America most people who have kids take what they get (despite having a preference), but in places like China and India there is a huge gap between opportunity and gender. I was lucky enough to move to the states from china as a College student and let me tell you the attitudes in China are much different and it is so much a part of the culture that very few people speak out against the inequality. These adds are more for the Chinese woman who is considering aborting her unborn daughter because men are preferred and for those people who let oppression dictate their opinion on the female of the spices. MEN you have had all of history to abuse, take advantage of and exploit the "weaker sex" but if we are all to survive as a species maybe they whole war, murder and greed model just isn't going to work any more. Why not let women have a say into how things are being run, after all we are all supposed to be created equally right? Or is that just for Americans?

  • Chris Babbage

    You completely missed the reason some people are offended, which makes me suspect you haven't read them all. First, why do you say none of the MEN below know what it's like to be a woman in a third world country? I'll bet the women don't either unless they live there. Secondly, most of the ads don't suggest "equality" - they denigrate men and boys in the process of trying to make girls appealing. That's the problem.

  • rogerdunn

    Anyone w/ empathy or "leadership" would have opposed writing this column. Obviously Nancy Miller has neither, and couldn't wait to publish this trash.  Hilarious

  • rafael baptista

    Not only are the ads offensive - the whole idea creating an ad campaign to promote one gender over another is offensive. First there is the obvious boy bashing - but mixed in is the sad subtext that people have to be convinced to love daughters. I leaves the viewer wondering what is wrong with daughters that Fast Company things they need re-branding.

  • Lucy Winters

    Oh, wow. I don't know where to begin. Ignoring the misandry of these mock ads I really have to wonder what the production teams really think of women if the only way they can promote girls is by using sexist stereotypes to belittle males.

    Really? Do girls not have any good points that stand on their own? Is this the only way to promote girls; tearing down boys so girls don't look so bad by comparison?

  • Crella

    "Congratulations Ken, you would be first in line to abort your baby girl
    in the hopes of producing an heir."

    In the United States!? Surely you jest. If you want to protest the one child policy in China and the fundamentals of Buddhism that state a man must inherit the family altar and upkeep of the family cemetery (one reason for wanting a male heir) , or the killing of girl babies by drowning in India in remote villages because they will cost their families a fortune in dowry when they marry, then do it. Have the guts to tackle the issue head on.

  • meathead

    Fastcompany, or Nancy, you don't get it.  Chinese did not abort girls because they felt that girls will not be successful or desirable as offspring.  Tradition, like propriety, views girls as gifts, but like dowry, a gift to another family after being wedded.  Not a problem in itself, but for a country leapfrogging from famine to fortune, it was not long ago that families had to cooperate just to sustain; females' destiny to leave a family unit made for that family's attrition, nothing more.  In less rural advancing (from primary to secondary and tertiary) economies within China, like Hong Kong and Shanghai, you will find better representation of high achieving females than in the West.  Chinese femail billionaires out number all other countries and their representation in higher management is also the very highest in the world today -see this weeks economist.com!  All China respects these facts so preaching to the choir through western (ignorant and naive) bias is stupid.  A female's propensity to be a successful or high achieving human being, as the majority of Chinese more and more believe a fait accompli, is not the thing the rural Chinese (who still far outnumber the urbanites) desire but fear.  They feel it a poor bargain (being socially independent as agrarian hicks and thus comparably selfish) as they must lose out on a union for their child if they lose a well brought up femaie to another family, though they would love their sons to profit from such marital bargains conversely.  In precisely 10 years time, tables could turn, Nancy;)  China is not what you think it is, your information slow in coming pre-dates the sea change that has already passes the point of no return... or I could be wrong, for your sake.  BTW, I actually know what i am talking about at least more than passport less people, I am Chinese.

  • BN77

    Oh, I don't know how I missed the 1st one, the 'Born to Rule' one. I don't like that one either, for the same reasons explained in my last post.

  • BN77

    Some of these are good, but several of them are surprisingly awful. The worst ones are #2 - "Boys are 76% more likely..."; #5 - "If this app existed 27 years ago..."; and #6 - "Girls. The Smart Choice." Not only do they insult boys, but they reinforce stereotypes that are ultimately damaging to girls as well.

    Not only that, but they treat children like commodities. The 'Girlify' ad in particular, which quite literally and intentionally compares choosing your child to choosing a car. Isn't this the opposite of the intended spirit of the campaign? Isn't the point to discourage parents from thinking in terms of which 'type' of child they think would be best for them?

    For that reason, I sorta like the 'Daughters Don't Have a Choice' ad. There are some objections I have to it. For instance, it generalizes about what 'guys' do. But the message of the ad, overall, is headed in the right direction.

    That said, the very best add is the Amy Poehler one.

    And for those of you blaming the terrible ads on 'feminazis' (seriously? people still use that word?) and such, let me just point out that most of these were not created by feminist groups, but rather traditional ad agencies.

  • Heath Robinson

    I have to agree with the above comments.  I have boys and I do fear for them.  They are enter a rabidly sexist world.  One would have thought that women, having been through the kind of abuse they underwent for so long would not have turned so fast.  So much for empathy.

  • DeeAnne White

    As a retired executive, and mother of two grown sons/grandmother of both a grandson and a granddaughter, I have to ask, when does it end? We are individuals. We inspire, empathize, fail, feel entitled, (or not) according to who we are, not our gender. Until everyone understands that, there will be no equality, and one sex or the other will always been seen as more valuable. How can we get to the place where we don't even mention gender, race, etc, but rather focus on what the individual brings to the table?