The 8th of March is International Women’s Day. To celebrate it, we decided to select the 10 most award-winning advertisements from over 100 campaigns; ads which empower, critique inequality, increase visibility and recognise the role of women in the world. Femvertising in its purest form. Brands and agencies with a high percentage of female employees, as well as executive teams based on equality, raising their voices and declaring themselves as feminists to deliver a clear message, and in doing so, helping to dismantle stereotypes and break glass ceilings. This list is the best advertising to watch today and every day of the year.

Girls, Girls, Girls Magazine: Be a Lady, They Said

Actor Cynthia Nixon, who played one of the lead characters in Sex and the City, recites a feminist poem by Camile Rainville that is impossible not to identify with. What does it mean to be a woman today? The answer is clear: a set of paradoxes or contradictory and harmful messages, which ultimately only restrict freedom according to the aptly named theory of oppression.

Olay: Meena

It’s from India and it’s got that sense of humour we love so much. Singapore’s Publicis agency created this campaign to launch the Olay brand to the country’s young women. Using a striking alternating montage, it presents us with two realities: that of a young daughter of a middle-class Indian family, and the eye-opening truth – a bold young woman who lives life the way she wants to, no matter what. 

Nike: Dream Crazier

One of our favourite TV spots. First seen in a break during the 91st Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood, this prize-winning spot, narrated by Serena Williams, aims to empower female athletes to chase their goals and dream big. Nike continues to be a highly feminist brand that helps to break down barriers and get women around the world playing sport every day.

OLX: The Balls

Please note: it’s important that you watch it all the way to the end. Outrageously funny and loaded with irony as well as reality. In Poland, women earn approximately 18.5% less than men. It’s like they work for free 68 days a year, that is, until the 8th of March. Until International Women’s Day. A startling statistic that needs to change.

Finansforbundet: Equal Pay

This superb campaign from The Finance Sector Union of Norway addresses the “gender pay gap”. Doing the same job for different pay because of gender is unacceptable in the eyes of children. Why should we accept it as adults?    

Mercedes-Benz: Bertha Benz

“The witch is coming,” cries a girl when she sees Bertha Benz riding in her car. A sensational production about a journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim (Germany), the first long-distance trip in an automobile, on which Bertha was determined to demonstrate the potential of her husband’s invention. The advertisement was filmed like a Western movie and is a dramatisation of one of her stops along the way.

UN Women: Newscast

Created by the Erich & Kallman agency for International Women’s Day, this spot deftly illustrates that inequality in the workplace is not just old news for women. The spot, beautifully shot as a long take, depicts a transformation from a 1950s newsreel to a modern-day broadcast. Nothing has changed.

Cotton Incorporated: Rosie Reborn

Renowned agency DDB New York created this campaign based on an iconic symbol: the “We Can Do It” Rosie the Riveter poster from 1943. Working with a new concept and textile design for the denim overalls worn by the “Rosies” (female workers in the munitions factories during World War II), and adapting it to the present to dress today’s empowered women.

ElaN Languages: The Unbias Button

Language can also be sexist and fail to define equality. Words may appear insignificant but they have a direct influence on how we interpret reality. Imagine, therefore, an online translation tool that searches for and translates gender-biased words. That’s what ElaN did, while also encouraging Google Translate and iTranslate to do the same.

MINDSPACE: Can You Solve the Riddle?

Does gender equality in the workplace exist? To answer this question, Mindspace posed a riddle to 22 participants. The answers were all the same. Breaking down deep-seated mental stereotypes is the first step towards equality, and crucial for businesses and the economy to thrive. Indeed, Mindspace is a prime example of this, as 69% of its employees are women and its management team is equal parts male and female.

Happy 8th of March.

Author: Joan Margarit, Marketing and Communication Analyst.

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