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The Changing Face of Feminism

Ogilvy - The Changing Face of Feminism

Ogilvy hosted an evening event at their offices to discuss the Changing Face of Feminism. The evening set out to look at the splintered perceptions of feminism today through the eyes of their brilliant speakers.

Each speaker explored feminism from her own perspective. Victoria Buchanan from the Future Laboratory took us on a whirlwind historical tour of the 20th century. From the first wave of feminism just after the turn of the century, right the way through to the fourth wave in 2018, which has driven female activism into the mainstream. 

 "How we [as women] are represented is important for our psyche," said Ella Dolphin, CEO at Shortlist Media. She talked us through Stylist Magazine's Suffragette edition and their Man Tax Pub stunt, which demonstrated the power of inverting an existing conversation about equal pay.

Lisa Jedan and Andrea Montague from Dewar's whiskey looked at how we can take gender out of the equation. Montague explored the reality of working in the whiskey industry, which she says is full of brilliant women, they just don't get the airtime. Both cautioned against strong media and social backlash to campaigns that go wrong, such as the lady whiskey glass, designed for delicate hands because that may mean smaller brands will be scared to even try.

The final speaker was the journalist and author Ella Whelan who stood up and uttered the words, "I am not a feminist," before revealing that she isn't in fact a bad person. Whelan believes that "telling everyone that they're a feminist if they want equality is limiting and reductive to the conversation." The problem is, she says, that feminism today is only represented by one type of woman. What we need to do is open up the conversation and ask, what do women really want?

Ogilvy's Creative Director Lotte Jeffs then chaired a panel discussion, deftly moving the conversation to engage the panellists in lively debate. Shelina Janmohamed, the VP of Ogilvy Noor, explored the idea that there are multiple feminisms, rounding off the evening with a statement at the crux of the discussion: "the trouble is the belief that there is only one type of woman."

Key take outs:

  • Activism is becoming a tool through which consumers are defining themselves, from boycotting the brands they distrust to bulk buying of those they support. "Identity politics are now embedded with personal consumption", said Victoria Buchanan, and brands need to recognise that shift. "History in hindsight is important but we need to create a future we want to live in."
  • "Women in history shouldn't be a mystery" said Ella Dolphin. She asked us all to do the 60 second test. In 60 seconds name as many men from history as you can; now do the same for women. The difference between the lengths of the two lists will be striking.
  • Brands are confused. They're not sure how to behave because "traditional views of gender are moving faster in culture than in advertising," said Lisa Jedan.
  • Contemporary feminism limits us, says Ella Whelan. It doesn't treat us like equals. What has to come next is a "bigger, better women's liberation movement".
  • The final words came from Lotte Jeffs: "Be aware of the cultural conversation, respect each viewpoint and don't abuse the hashtags."


Anna Burns, Managing Partner, Ogilvy UK,

About the author

Izzy Ashton, Assistant Editor of BITE, Creativebrief

Izzy is a writer/researcher for BITE, Creativebrief’s daily insight into global marketing trends and the cultural movements driving them. She keeps abreast of the latest communication, technology and consumer news, and is responsible for conducting interviews with key agency strategists and creatives to gain insight into the most innovative global campaigns.

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