Femvertising. A round of applause for brands?

There's a new word in social media. Femvertising. Think Dove's Real Beauty campaign. 

BlogHer 2015, the social media conference behemoth, announced it will bestow an award for sponsored content (i.e. branding or what we used to call advertising). Sure the SheKnowsMedia people dressed it with a feminist angle, a cute name and of course, a hashtag. The conference, taking place next month in New York, home to many brands and social media mavens, will introduce the first ever #Femvertising Award. 
"Just as the Voices of the Year community keynote has always been about representation and inclusion of all types of people in social media, the #Femvertising Awards will honor brands that get it right, challenging gender stereotypes by building awareness-generating, pro-women messages and images into ads that target women." SheKnows Media
I'm all for wiping out gender bias and promoting female-friendly ads, I have three impressionable children and a Certificate in Women's Studies, but the merger of blogging, branding and supposed feminism doesn't sit well with me for a number of reasons. I can't help but wonder whether a media company, folks pushing content at you and me, should be in the business of honoring brands. Even if it is to encourage positive messages about women. It's maddening somehow, two steps forward, one step back. Or one step forward, one back, bow to the brands, now shimmy to the right, shimmy to the left.

Maybe this is the new norm for media companies, marrying content with brands in unique and maddening fashion. At the very least these 12 ad promotions (under consideration for the #Femvertising award) make it clear where the sponsored content and original content begins. For that I am thankful. I suppose.

Other times in social media it's not always easy to tell which is the unique voice, the original content and the branding. How does this affect the content? That there is a relationship between the blogging world and brands is no secret, at least to those in that world. It's less clear how outside readers perceive it. 

Nor is it clear if or how paying bloggers typically nominal amounts of money or in free products, trips or other goodies influences them, their content and their relationship with readers. I have a hard time understanding how it honors women to pay them well below a living wage for using their website and blogs to reach parents. It doesn't strike me as furthering women to say nothing of how it treats their audience. Bloggers, or content creators, aren't quite professionals in the traditional sense. They often don't get the salary, respect or vacation days. 

I struggle with answering whether this approach, the merger of brands and content directed at women ultimately helps women, let alone, as SheMedia suggests, inspires and empowers them.
Femvertising is endemic to our company as we support brands and agencies that seek to inspire and empower women versus shame them through pro-female advertising. SheKnows Media 
Something is endemic but I'm not sure it's women's best interests. Thoughts?

Up next: BlogHer 2015 official tagline - "Experts Amongst Us." 


Barbara TherExtras said...

"supposed feminism" - a meaningful term, Polly. When it comes to marketing and business, what sells is what it is all about. In the whole marketing context of my life as an adult for over 40 years I have seen more rejection of what millennium of humankind has noted and honored as feminine than acceptance and promotion.

Also, dropping by to offer this:

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Barbara, what a pleasant surprise! Good to "see" you. You've given me food for thought as usual. I'm still cantankerous, as usual. Yikes, where'd you find the toxic mattresses? It sounds dreadful, way worse than a new shower curtain. But seriously, autism? I will poke around. Upon initial reflection though I can't help but suspect some kids diagnosed with autism likely aren't the ones who spent their first few months on a toxic mattress. Instead they were peacefully co-sleeping beside their mothers who were breastfeeding on demand through the night at least for the first six months if not year. Cheers.