Always #LikeAGirl tackles emoji sexism

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Ever notice that most female emojis are pink and silly? Always did.

Girls send more than a billion emojis every day. But when Always asked if they felt the digital symbols accurately represented them, the answer was no — unless they were obsessed with the color pink, getting their nails done or dancing in bunny ears.

The latest effort from Leo Burnett’s award-winning #LikeAGirl campaign, a two-minute video released today, dramatically points out just how limiting the choices are for girls in one of the fastest-growing languages in the world, and how the popular visual language reinforces gender stereotypes.

Like previous #LikeAGirl videos, "Girl Emojis" takes a documentary-style approach to the subject, with Academy Award nominated fimmaker Lucy Walker ("The Crash Reel," "Waste Land") interviewing girls about the language. They animatedly discuss how much they love to send them, but their tone swiftly changes when asked if they feel that emojis represent them.

"That’s just the way things are," sighs one young girl, as girls point out all the different categories where they aren’t represented. "There are no girls in the professional emojis, unless you count being a bride a profession," notes one exasperated girl. The girls then give their suggestions of the emojis they’d like to see, such as a female soccer player, weightlifter, police officer, lawyer or simply "a bad-ass" girl.

The video asks viewers to help "make emojis as unstoppable as the girls they represent," and encourages girls to help create change by sending in suggestions for the emojis they’d like to see in social media using the #LikeAGirl hashtag.

"Society has a tendency to send subtle messages that can limit girls to stereotypes. As someone who has studied sociolinguistics, I know the kind of impact even seemingly innocuous language choices can have on girls," said Walker in a statement. "It was so interesting to hear these girls talk about emojis and realize how the options available to them are subtly reinforcing the societal stereotypes and limitations they face every day."

The Emojis video was informed by data revealed in the brand’s most recent "Confidence & Puberty Survey." The study, which surveyed 16- to 24-year-olds, found that while 71% of the girls and young women use emojis multiple times a day, most feel that they don’t represent who they are. More than half, 54%, said they feel that female emojis are stereotypical, 75% would like to see female emojis portrayed more progressively, and 67% feel that the available female emojis imply that girls are limited in what they can do.

"When we realized that stereotypical, limiting messages are hiding in places as innocent as emojis, it motivated us to demand change," said Michele Baeten, associate brand director, who leads the Always #LikeAGirl campaign at Procter & Gamble, in a release. "Girls are downright amazing, and we won’t stop fighting all the limitations and knocks in confidence they experience at puberty until every girl feels unstoppable."

The study also found that half of the participants find emojis to be a limited representation of females’ interests, 76% feel they shouldn’t only be portrayed doing stereotypical feminine activities such as getting haircuts or manicures and 47% said there aren’t enough female emojis.  The study included a national representative sample group of 1,006 16- to 24-year-old females and 508 16- to 24-year-old males.

Campaign credits

Client: P&G Always
Agency: Leo Burnett Chicago
Executive Creative Director: Nancy Hannon
Creative Director: Natalie Taylor, Isabela Ferreira
Art Director: Jin Yoo, Amanda Mearsheimer
Copywriter: Garrett Vernon
Executive Account Director: Annette Sally
Account Director: Katie Nikolaus
Account Supervisor: Sarah Kaminsky
Assistant Account Executive: Susanne Sward
Executive Producer: Tony Wallace
Producer: Adine Becker, Andrea Friedrich
Production Company: Pulse Films
Director: Lucy Walker
Editorial: Beast
Editor: Angelo Valencia


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