Feminism is more than just pretty statements and a jazzy soundtrack. If you want to make a feminist ad you need to think about it for more than two seconds.
I’m a big fan of brands using their influence and money to promote social good. Ben & Jerry’s refusing to serve two scoops of the same flavour in Australia to protest the lack of marriage equality there? I am all in. Lynx talking about masculinity and encouraging boys to be more in touch with their vulnerability? Loved it so much I wrote an article about it. But, quite frankly, Special K’s latest advert can get in the bin with the rest of the trash.
It’s almost impressive how much stupidity Special K have managed to squeeze into 30 seconds. The beginning is fine, albeit taken from the first chapter of “Using Feminism As A Marketing Tool For Dummies”: talking about the amazing things women do like growing babies, running companies and solving problems. Sure, the company is something to do with upholstery and problem in question is a kid spilling something all down their top and so these examples still link women to their traditional gender roles in society, but that’s just me nitpicking. These are mere drops in the ocean of stupidity that Special K have unleashed upon the world with this advert.
Because how do women do all these amazing-yet-still-gender-conforming things? Apparently they eat. Yes, Special K is trying to claim eating as a feminist act. According to this advert women eat almonds, strawberries, quinoa and even *furtively looks around to make sure teh menz aren’t around to hear our dirty secrets* chocolate, and this gives us the power to take our bras off and hang out with friends and whatever the fuck else Special K thinks empowering women do in this hellish 30 second thought-vacuum.
You know what pisses me off the most? Eating probably could be seen as a feminist action. People have a lot of opinions about what women are “allowed” to eat, with women being shamed if they dare to do something as prosaic as eating on the tube and thought of as uptight and humourless if they eat in order to keep their body in a socially acceptable shape. Special K could have easily done something around the idea that women eat to fuel themselves so that they can do all the cool shit that women need to do, but instead they made this empty, trite, utterly meaningless drivel. But considering their female-marketed cereal’s sole selling point is that it’s low in calories and it apparently isn’t particularly nutritious, if they’d tried that tactic it would have just seemed unscrupulous anyway.
Like I said, I am a big fan of brands using their power make positive social change with their campaigns, but brands have to actually care about what they’re doing for this to work. They can’t just shove some vaguely nice platitudes in front of an upbeat backing track and expect cookies for making the world a better place. If Special K really want to empower women then they need more than a really dumb advert and a website full of well-meaning but basically empty sentiments. They need to actually do something as well.