By Edwina Khayat
As we’ve passed the halfway mark at SCA, we’ve become increasingly trapped in the world of advertising, becoming more at risk of seeing ads as ad people, rather than seeing ads the way people these ads are aimed at see them.
A couple of days ago, I got to the tube station, walked down the escalator, and turned right instead of left. There it was, a whole new world of posters I hadn’t seen every day for the past month. The nice thing about advertising is that you can ‘study’ it all the time. It doesn’t matter if you’re on your way to have a drink with friends, it’s easy to shut that little voice in your head that’s telling you you ought to be working up ‘Look! Headline, visual, concept (or lack of), strap, proposition! I AM working.’
I read the headline ‘I jiggle therefore I am’. I giggled. Nice tone of voice, I thought. I can definitely identify with the jiggling. For a campaign that aims to encourage women to be more physically active, it definitely taps into some truths, and it uses real women with real problems, breaking the rules of all the airbrushed Nike and Adidas ads.
Still mindlessly smiling, I turn away and locate a bench. The woman sitting there catches my smile.
She’s in her sixties, has short white hair and kind but energetic hazel eyes.
‘What do you think about their line? This girl can? What do you think they mean by it?’
I hadn’t even gotten to the strap yet. She doesn’t wait for me to answer.
‘I think it’s awful. Girl? This woman looks like she’s in her forties. She’s a woman. How old do you have to be to finally be seen as a woman? When will they stop seeing us as girls who need to be told what to do, and see us as women who can think for themselves?’
‘I ask this to a woman every time I’m on this platform. I was talking to one the other day and you know what she told me? She said it was bad. She said a man probably wrote it. She’s right. A man wrote it.’
At this point I let her know that I am a copywriter and that this kind of thing happens way more often than she thinks. ‘This girl can’ might sound better, smoother than ‘This woman can’. It might look better in a copywriter’s portfolio. But it doesn’t matter, because the point is to sell. Women don’t want to be called girls, so this strap doesn’t sell.
‘Start a revolution then! Write it on Facebook, Twitter… Spread the word!’
I told her not to worry, I told her we’d already started. I told her that in a lovely old church in Brixton, the women and men of MOSH had started a revolution from the inside.