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To Bad Ads & The Women Who Overcame Them

When this ad from 1970 resurfaced from the Internet memory hole, we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. To laugh, because it’s comically sexist and demeaning, so much so that it doesn’t seem real. To cry, because it WAS all too real, and it was not so long ago. This ad ran in the most popular American publications within the lifetime of some of us at IM, and some of you reading this now. (And yes, for you eagle-eyed film buffs—that’s a young Ali MacGraw front and center.)

International Womens Day 2018

This ad provoked a lot of discussion at IM, where 86% of our team is made up of women. Overwhelmingly, the sentiment everyone shared was gratitude that this ad—this concept—was once considered clever, cool, and the best Madison Avenue had to offer, yet today is rightfully viewed by mainstream society as degrading, unacceptable and embarrassing.

But the path from this ad to the #TimesUp movement wasn’t paved just by the groundbreakers with name recognition: the Oprahs, the Malalas, the Gloria Steinems. It was paved day by day, inch by inch, by women all over the world who pushed back. Women who found their voice and expressed it even as others in their culture, their communities, their workplaces, and their own families disapproved. Women who value and respect themselves and insist that others do the same. Women who mother, who mentor, who influence. Women who—like so many of our clients—are brave enough to start a business, shrewd enough to make it work, and smart enough to hire other kickass women to make it a force for good.

On this International Women’s Day, we salute the women who forged that path and the girls who will continue doing so ... because they recognize no matter how far we’ve come, we still very much have a ways to go. And we salute bad ads, what they can teach us, and their rightful place in the dustbin of history. Eastern Airlines may have gone belly up years ago, but we’re still here. 

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

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