The movie “The Sandlot” rests on a scene where two characters get into a fight where they verbally insult each other back and forth. Though a period piece based in humor, sports and entertainment, “The Sandlot” reinforces the stereotype that girls can’t hope to play with boys. We all know this is absurd, but the characters in the scene are all around the age of 10 and already are convinced that no girl could possibly join them on their sandlot field and compete.
This is simply untrue. The main character and narrator of the movie is actually a horrendous baseball player and growing up I knew several girls that could’ve hit, thrown and run better than him without blinking an eye. But the damage is done. A cult movie that kids of all generations quote, watch and idolize growing up has reinforced a damaging stereotype.
Always, a company specializing in feminine care products, set out to erase the stereotypes brought up in “The Sandlot” and that are ingrained in children right around puberty. Most playgrounds, schoolyards and youth teams are littered with the perception that girls are “second-class athletes.” I can remember kids at recess voicing this opinion from as early as second grade.
Think about that. Early as second grade. I still thought the tooth fairy was real in second grade. The attitude that girls can’t be good athletes is clearly another myth that needs to be abolished.
When the “Like a Girl” campaign started, it began with a single video.
A three minute and 19 second video where people are asked, in front of a camera, to act out doing various activities “like a girl.”
“Swing like a girl.”
“Run like a girl.”
“Fight like a girl.”
“Throw like a girl.”
The second half of the video, after both men and women who have already went through puberty have acted out doing these activities “as a girl,” begins with young girls behind the camera. These girls have yet to be influenced too much by the media, popular culture, their peers and society as a whole. They have enormous self-confidence and exhibit their self-assurance when asked to do the same things the older subjects were.
The impact is powerful. Nothing is more powerful than children who share their honest opinions in their truest forms. The social media campaign is bolstered by the stark difference in what the phrase “like a girl” means to two separate and distinct demographics. By using the strategy of contrasting adults – female and male – to children makes the campaign and video break straight to the core of the viewer and maximizes impact.
The objective of the campaign is that the phrase “like a girl” shouldn’t mean anything. “Like a girl” is culturally defined and there is no base for women and men alike to reinforce this damaging stereotype. A study from Research Now, sponsored by Always, that found more than half of the girls surveyed claimed to experience a drop in confidence at puberty. This study serves as the basis for the campaign and hopes to redefine the meaning of what it’s like to do things like a girl.
The brand Always and the campaign targets everyone, both males and females of every generation. The targeting works on two separate levels, though. The message remains the same but the poignant nature of the video affects those on either side of the puberty line. Young boys and girls are going to see the video and realize that girls have equal worth and belong next to their male peers.
While the campaign was largely successful, it did receive a few critiques. Many women felt slighted that Always would try to use female empowerment in what they deemed a “PR ploy” to sell their products. A few felt that by associating the equality that women are fighting for with feminine care products, the people behind it were being exploitive.
In addition to those claims, the argument could be made that this campaign was solely a social awareness movement .That’s a claim that I definitely wouldn’t support. While the company Always was responsible for the “Like a Girl” campaign and there is no direct tie to the feminine care products that it sells, Always is trying to promote its brand – and no harm done if it does so while helping to change the sexist attitudes in American culture right? Empowerment, feminism and social awareness are all in and by cashing in on this trend, Always is hoping that women will feel the same sense of empowerment by using its products. Is this smart, sound or realistic? In my opinion, this doesn’t help sell the product, but it does create positive publicity and improves Always’ image which is always an added benefit. While it likely didn’t help Always sell more feminine care products, the “Like a Girl” social media campaign was an overall success.
The numbers and stats back up my opinion and the opinion of many others. Said Amanda Hill, the Always Brand Director: “When we shared this idea with young girls, four out of five of them said, ‘Yes, this makes complete sense that Always would be connected in a movement that would change the perception of the phrase ‘like a girl’.”
The initial video has over 59,575,000 views as of September 27th and was shared 536,519 times in the first week of it being unveiled. This campaign elicited multiple videos, a social media hashtag (a predictable #likeagirl that even celebrities such as Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman and Kristen Bell got involved in) and including a viral advertisement that stole the show as far as Super Bowl ads go. The Super Bowl ad was received with support and as Maura Judkis wrote for the Washington Post, “on a day that glorifies masculine athleticism, Procter & Gamble (made) viewers consider female strength, as well.”
— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) February 2, 2015
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) July 1, 2014
— Kristen Bell (@IMKristenBell) July 2, 2014
At one point towards the end of the commercial, one of the subjects says, “Why can’t running like a girl mean winning the race too?”
One campaign isn’t going to solve the slew of sexist issues in the United States, but with Always’ help and more social media campaigns like this one perhaps things are going to change. Men definitely have a head start, but Always is helping young girls everywhere catch up.