Women creatives from around the United Arab Emirates pick their favourite pieces of work that champion females
Tuesday 8 March marks International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is ‘breaking the bias’. Across the Middle East, agencies and brands have been making huge steps when it comes to breaking bias and progressing the way that women are portrayed. To celebrate the talented women in the region and the evolution of the women are showing up in the region’s advertising, LBB’s Natasha Patel spoke to creatives around the United Arab Emirates about their favourite campaigns that champion women.
“Baklava, Achta, Aasal” are well-known types of sweets and also well-known nicknames used by men to harass women on the streets. The “Baklava got legs” video for the NGO Abaad, is part of a larger #SafetyfortheSafekeepers campaign that exposes sexual harassment and gender-based violence in patriarchal societies in the region.
What I love the most about this campaign, aside from the beautifully crafted and bold music video, is the strong insight it has at its core - that the person who creates safe spaces for those around her, doesn’t feel safe herself. In her country, her neighbourhood, and at times, even in her home. This campaign also reminded people that in order to protect women & mothers, we need to educate our sons.
adidas: Swimmable Billboard
Chosen by: Charney magri, partner, do epic sh*t global
The world needs brands with guts and soul to stand up and make a difference. Body shaming, the continual strive for unobtainable perfection, analysis paralysis stopping you from experiencing even the simplest things in life - that shit is (still) real.
The Swimmable Billboard by adidas in partnership with Havas Dubai nailed it. It is the perfect example of how working with a brand that is willing to tackle real-life issues can make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Too often briefs land on desks enforcing creatives to be reactive with little time to be proactive, let alone think, produce, execute and deliver. A simple equation to making incredible work: time + budget + insight + brave client. Let’s hope this empowering execution is the backbone for other brands and agencies to follow in the region.
Kotex Arabia: Period or Not, #SheCan
Chosen by: Hadin Hasan, social media executive, Serviceplan Middle East
Passion is defined as an intense feeling or emotion towards an object or activity. Hence, it's a strong feeling attracting you towards a subject. Therefore, it would be appropriate to describe my love for advertising as a passion. By the time I graduated from the American University of Sharjah, the only thing on my mind was to finally enter the world of creativity and to understand more about the processes of creating campaigns, and about the hard work that is put into them; And here I am, a social media executive at Serviceplan Middle East, witnessing beautiful work every day.
A campaign that truly inspired me was the Kotex - Period or Not, She can campaign. The campaign's main objective is to encourage women to follow their dreams, regardless of the social constraints around them. We see Lessa, the first Saudi woman rapper, describing how she courageously broke the stereotypes of Saudi women. The campaign is very admirable, it shows that no matter where you come from, no matter who you are, you are allowed to chase and achieve your dreams.
As a woman, seeing another woman in power truly encourages me and such campaigns are empowering, they teach you to keep going and to always push harder. Overall, a selfless campaign with such a strong message.
MINI Middle East: Circle Around
Chosen by: Hadin Hasan, social media executive, Serviceplan Middle East
A campaign that won me over is the MINI ME Roundabout Campaign. The campaign's main objective is to encourage women to check for unusual bumps on their breasts for signs of cancer. Although the topic is considered pessimistic, the campaign is quite the opposite. It is a story of hope and survival, and most importantly, awareness. The work that was put into the campaign is captivating and selfless, and although my part was minimal, I am proud to say that I also participated in the process.
The campaign hit home. As someone who lost a parent to cancer, it was inspiring to speak to the survivor, Dina Aman, and to witness her passion in raising awareness for such a sensitive topic.
Nike Women: What Will They Say about You?
Chosen by: Serra Chehade, producer, M&C Saatchi Middle East
Our society has been used to the ‘’What will they say about you?” myth, where women are told how to behave. This is one of the issues women in Arab countries are facing, finding themselves torn between opportunity and tradition.
Out of this insight, Nike launches an empowering campaign featuring different women athletes in the Middle East in 2017. What caught my attention, is the first scene of the film.
We see a woman looking out of her doorway and adjusting her veil before going for a run in the street, while an old woman stares at her. A female voice narrates in a Saudi dialect: ‘’What will they say about you? Maybe they’ll say you exceeded all expectations.’’
I consider this scene to be bold and brave as sport, in various countries in the Arab World, is seen as masculine. In this film, they are not trying to convince society that Arab women are achievers. Instead, they are challenging young women to stand up and revolt against what people will say.
Until today, I believe the ad’s message still stands powerful.
Spinneys and the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation: The Bread Exam
Chosen by: Damayanti Purkayasth, strategic transformation lead, FAB at MullenLowe Dubai
Too often female empowerment campaigns focus on hard power - be brave, be fearless, etc. Inspirational certainly, but these miss the point that being able to do all those things also relies on society being brave too.
I chose this particular campaign because it puts a spotlight on an insight that often goes unspoken: Empowering yourself as a woman can just be the act of owning your health. Not easy when you’re used to and expected to always put others before you. I love how they made that message so distinctive, useful, and culturally accessible to women in this region through a bread baking tutorial for breast examination. Unexpected and yet so on point. Lastly, the tonality of this campaign. It’s a far cry from the foot-stomping anthemic campaigns we usually see and yet, it still packs a mighty punch, as seen from the great results.
Twitter: Feminine Arabic
Chosen by: Maha El Hawari, client commerce director, VMLY&R Commerce MEA
For as long as I could remember, gender inequality has been a hot topic in the Middle East — something we passionately discussed at school, university, and later at work. Having been raised in Saudi in the ‘90s as an expat, I got to experience it first-hand.
Growing up with the values our parents raised us on, I found that shocking: how can a society disregard the presence and role of a woman, when women are the pivotal driver of society? and have been since Adam and Eve. When I came across Twitter's Feminine Arabic campaign, I recognised the strength and impact the idea would have because it was legitimising women's voices online but eventually also offline. It's more than just changing a button; it's about creating a sense of recognition and belonging. Women's impact on business, culture, innovation, and society at large is remarkable, and it's only fair to reflect that impact by making sure female audiences are addressed in the right way, creating and marking this space where their voices are not only heard, but are also a central part to conversations that matter.