Feminist Image Campaign: Beyond the Old Stereotypes

by Hillary S. Condon, Communications Intern

One of the 15 compelling print advertisements photographed by Bard Martin

We've all heard the stereotypes before. That feminists are all white, middle-class, hairy, lesbian "femi-Nazis."  These ever-present conventions have deterred many from embracing the feminist label in general and NOW in particular, including women who have a vested interest and a real desire to be part of the women's rights movement. The negative images have also been used in attempts to defeat feminist issues and candidates. To help counter this, NOW will kick-off the new millennium with a broad image campaign that depicts the many different kinds of women who are members and supporters of the organization and the progress that we have made. The Bomstein Agency, an esteemed Washington, D.C., advertising and public relations firm, created the campaign and is currently planning a marketing strategy with NOW.

NOW has been working extensively with the people at Bomstein, who donated their time and efforts to create the images and concepts for the campaign.  Also contributing hours of their time and hard work were the women and men of Marchesano Productions who produced the top-quality television commercials and Bard Martin, the talented New York photographer who is responsible for the brilliant still photographs.  Both television and print advertising will be utilized in concert with direct mailings with the ultimate goal of boosting NOW's membership.

Two versions of the television commercial will be test-marketed in the Boston, Mass., area in the first quarter of the year 2000.  Both ads contain many diverse images of women from a construction worker, chef and CEO to mothers, daughters, wives and partners.  One ad discusses issues specifically relating to women's rights, asking that viewers join NOW to help us continue making progress.  The other ad, called "Heroes," celebrates the women who are heroes every day, thanking them for their participation in making progress for women.  Featured in the commercials are well-known women such as Hawaii Congress member Patsy Mink and NOW's four national officers, as well as women from the Action Center staff and this past summer's internship program.

Accompanying the TV ads are 15 beautiful print ads, all made with the artistry and generosity of Martin.  Each ad depicts a unique and powerful woman, or group of women, in a setting related to their careers or hobbies, with captions describing their own stories. Several of the photos capture everyday women who are also feminists, such as a teacher surrounded by smiling students, a woman film maker behind the camera, three generations of web-savvy women, or a park ranger before a scenic lake. Others are more unique, depicting a vibrant athlete winning a race despite a disability, a woman fire fighter who won a legal battle for her job, a woman rabbi and Episcopal priest in their shared place of worship, or New York City's first openly lesbian and Latina Council Member, Margarita Lopez. Longtime activist and Bronx NOW President Geraldine Miller is also featured in one of the print ads.

A conference go-er gazes proudly at one of the print ads in NOW's upcoming Feminist Image Campaign.  Photo by Sue Rumph.

"The success of these commercials will help advance feminist issues and candidates, and bring new members into our organization, but that's only the tip of the iceberg," said NOW President Patricia Ireland.  "It will also shape the way women in the movement are viewed by the public.  For many years, advertising has been used to sell, degrade and demean women.  Now we're using advertising to do just the opposite to uplift and honor women."  If you want to help NOW raise money to buy television air time or placement in print publications, connect to https://www.now.org/image.html

Return to Fall 1999 National NOW Times
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