In a very public and dramatic outpouring, ad executive Madonna Badger is devoting her energies to stopping the ad industry from objectifying women.
Badger’s video, “We Are #WomenNotObjects,” starts with a Google search for “objectification of women” and follows with image after image after image of women used as hyper-sexualized props to sell products from hamburgers to Post-It notes.
“I love sacrificing my dignity for a drink,” says one woman in an ad featuring a man with martini glasses and a Skyy Vodka bottle straddling a sunbathing woman with prominent cleavage.
“I love sleeping with guys that don’t know my name,” said another in an ad of a couple in bed with the woman’s name Jade tacked on her forehead on a Post-It.
“I’d sell my body for a burger” and “Nothing makes me hotter than watching a guy get his head blown off” are other captions read aloud during the video.
Badger knows what she’s talking about, having created the infamous Mark Wahlberg and Kate Moss Calvin Klein ads. But a devastating house fire that killed her three young daughters and her parents in December 2011 turned her energies to honoring her children by raising awareness about sexist advertising and its negative effects on young women.
#WomenNotObjects has become a hot topic, with celebrities such as George Takei and Alanis Morissette weighing in along with UN Women, Global Fund for Women, the American Association of University Women and UniteWomen.org.
Avon’s PR team tweeted its support along with UK-based Big Bang Marketing, Havas PR Worldwide and PepsiCo Global Beverage Group President Brad Jakeman.
— UN Women (@UN_Women) January 28, 2016
Since the video was posted on YouTube on January 11, it has been viewed more than 1 million time.
None of the brands called out in the video, including Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Skyy spirits, Ram Truck, Post-It, Tom Ford and Budweiser, have reached out to Badger, which does not surprise her. “Brand participation was not the goal here. It was never an objective of ours,” she said, according to AdAge. “We simply wanted to start a conversation and that is what we consider successful.”
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 28, 2016
Clearly—the conversation has begun. “The next step at this point is to continue to support #WomenNotObjects as a community,” said Badger, “and for us to really continue to use our voice to stop this horrible objectification of women in advertising and marketing.”
Badger said her agency, Badger & Winters, will no longer use women as props. “We will never over-retouch to the point that it is unattainable human perfection, and we’re not going to use her body parts.”
— Alanis Morissette (@Alanis) January 27, 2016
“You know what the worst part is?” asked Badger. “The harm we’re doing. That’s really what made me make this decision. People are really seeing that objectifying women is up there with inequality.”
The video ends with this clear message: “Don’t talk to me that way.”