Earlier this month, International Women’s Day reignited discussions regarding the increasing use of “Femvertising” to attract and retain female consumers. Whilst the recent worldwide women’s marches have highlighted the inequality and even hostility that women still face today around the globe, are these brands cashing in on feminism, or is all publicity good publicity?

Although pink razors and biros “designed to fit comfortably in a woman’s hand” sit at the more dubious end of this scale, there is still a risk of even well-meaning brands exploiting feminism, or whatever the next fashionable social cause may be, only to sell their products.

Notable examples of femvertising including Always #Likeagirl, and Pantene’s #NotSorry campaigns, have all used female empowerment as a tool to support their brand positioning. These have mostly been met with critical acclaim and the occasional weepy tear. However, no matter how much consciousness raising this enables, they are ultimately still trying to get consumers to buy more tampons and shampoo.

Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s 2013 Ted Talk, We Should All Be Feminists, currently sits at about 3.5 million views, and was cemented into the mainstream when Beyoncé famously sampled the talk on her 2014 single, Flawless. However, Dior’s recent collaboration with Adiche, a t-shirt emblazoned with the now famous slogan, has led to many asking whether a £490 t-shirt is truly beneficial to the feminist cause. Adiche’s point of view is simple: “Was it going to make the world a better place? No. But I think there’s a level of consciousness-raising and a level of subversion that I like.”

So, is consciousness-raising always a positive outcome of this type of branding or is this simply the new generation of pinkwashing? Regardless of their genuine intentions, brands wishing to believably position themselves as defenders of the feminist cause will have to demonstrate a sincere and durable commitment to their message.

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