What does it look like to run like a girl? At first this video by Always had all the makings of a campaign that would be an over cheesy offering but in truth it has turned out to be an internet sensation, it has gone viral with over 13 million views on YouTube and the hashtag #LikeAGirl sparking debate. I updated this article in 2016 to add the Like A Girl Emoji video at the end.
The video, which I saw on ITV's new morning show Good Morning Britain, shows people of different ages and genders reacting to the phrases 'run like a girl' 'throw like a girl' and 'fight like a girl.' The adults, men and women do this with overblown stereotypical features - flapping hands for fighting, weak arm movement for throwing and comedy exaggerated running. The refreshing part is where the young girls in the videos are asked the same questions and they respond with strong confident movements. It's a heart-warming display, making you proud and hopeful that the young girls start off with such strong values but saddened to realise that the 'drip, drip, drip' effect of the derogatory language in society eventually seeps in and we start to understand those words to be negative. Is this where our glass ceiling starts? Is this where women come to understand that they cannot do things which men can do? I was surprised by how many viewers had called into Good Morning Britain to say that they thought the phrases were generally harmless, and this may be so, but that shouldn't stop us taking an honest look at the words we use and why they have become the norm.
Always have succeeded in creating a lifestyle campaign to challenge our preconceptions using a visually impactful, shareable piece which has gone around the globe and helped to underline their role in helping girls everywhere become women. For an advert from a feminine hygiene brand to hit the mainstream with a video is no mean feat, and aligning with a powerful message that affirms women and inspires confidence. This has long been an aim for marketing campaigns trying to sell to women. Remember when Tampax asked us not to compromise in the 1990s, strap on our rollerskates and take the dogs for a walk to a background of 'It's My Life'? Empowering us rather than pushing an unattainable image, seems to be a more successful tactic, more honest and impactful.
To me, the Always video goes further than just highlighting how we talk to girls. Whether you're female or male, both sexes are subject to casual language and stereotypes that impact us and create preconceptions for our roles in society. Boys will be boys, all men are rats, women can't drive, girls love pink. You only have to look at birthday cards to decide that all men like beer, red wine, cricket, football, women and farting. Women are summed up by shoes, handbags, pink champagne, gin, cocktails, flowers and shopping. Towards the end of the video, Always asked us to reclaim the phrase 'Like a Girl' and repackage it. This is where the campaign loses some of it's sharpness for me - does this empower us or reinforce the difference? Or was it just a handy way to add a hashtag and finish off the campaign? Hopefully by challenging these preconceptions we can look at amending our attitudes ever so slightly, and then we will all get a chance to just be ourselves.
Watch it here:
As an addition I wanted to add the new Like A Girl emoji video which launched in March - it follows pretty much the same formula and we already know that Emojis literally doesn't yet cater for the full spectrum of the world!
The little fun icons are growing in importance, especially in marketing where they are infiltrating everything from social media to newsletter subject lines. They are hopelessly sexist in the sense that the default sports options are men, and that there are few options for men having their hair cut or getting married...so sexist both ways people! But alas there are an awful lot of bimbo girly icons in there. Food for thought! Watch it here: