Advertising has a long history of objectifying women. Now, one powerful female ad exec is fighting back.
Madonna Badger's new campaign, #WomenNotObjects, is making big some waves.
It started when Badger, who heads up the advertising firm Badger & Winters, anonymously released a video on YouTube on January 11. The video begins with the results of simple Google search: "Objectification of women."
The results turned up ads with troubling portrayals of women. The clip, which is two-and-a-half-minutes, features women critiquing the ads by mocking what the images are suggesting.
"I love sacrificing my dignity for a drink," said one woman with a Skyy Vodka ad. It featured a man -- holding martini glasses and a Skyy bottle -- straddling a sunbathing woman, her cleavage being the focal point.
"I love sleeping with guys that don't know my name," said another woman in a Post-It ad. The ad portrayed a couple in bed -- the woman had a Post-It on her forehead with her name, Jade.
"I'd sell my body for a burger," and "Nothing makes me hotter than watching a guy get his head blown off" are just a few of the other captions read aloud during the video.
Badger has had a successful career in advertising. She created the Mark Wahlberg and Kate Moss Calvin Klein campaigns before founding her own agency in 1994. After losing her three daughters and parents in a house fire on Christmas Day in 2011, she temporarily stepped away from advertising. But she found her way back, with a new mission.
On Tuesday, she told The Today Show's Matt Lauer that the #WomenNotObjects video has been "huge" -- it's been viewed in 167 countries by more than 500,000 people. The hashtag #WomenNotObjects reached more than 14 million people on Tuesday alone, according to Keyhole.
Badger said her agency has decided to no longer use women as a prop, "where she has no choice, no voice."
"We will never over-retouch to the point that it is unattainable human perfection, and we're not going to use her body parts," she told Lauer.
The Badger & Winters website reads: "In 2016, Badger & Winters made a commitment to never objectify women in our work. #WomenNotObjects."
"You know what the worst part is? The harm we're doing. That's really what made me make this decision," Badger said, noting that, historically, ads have used anxiety and shame to target consumers.
The video ends with a powerful message. The women in these ads are the women you love: Your mother, daughter, sister, coworker, manager, CEO.
It ends with a black screen and white text: "Don't talk to me that way."
"People are really seeing that objectifying women is up there with inequality," said Badger.