Remember the excellent segment on The Gruen Transfer called 'The Pitch'? Where two guys (yes, they are usually men) from heavyweight advertising agencies are asked to create a 30 second pitch to "sell the unsellable"?
To wit, some of the more challenging 'sells' included: convincing the Australian public that our politician's wages need to be increased, why we should invade New Zealand, the compulsory euthanasia of 80 year olds. The crux of the segment is that any concept, however absurd, can be sold to the masses if only they are framed the right way.
Now it appears that fashion magazine Elle UK has applied the same philosophy to rebrand a concept that they deem 'unsellable' -- feminism.
Titled 'Feminism is for everyone', Elle's latest editorial campaign is a collaboration between three feminists and three ad agencies Wieden + Kennedy (which represents Nike), Brave (whose clients include Dior) and Mother "the agency that recently launched a separate feminist campaign to make pubic hair cool again". And the feminists behind the project are Charlotte Raven, editor of the Feminist Times, teen campaigner Jinan Younis and Vagenda Founders Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett.
So why the 'rebranding'? According to Elle editor-in-chief Lorraine Candy, "We've learnt, through engagement with our readers via our website and social media, that young women are confused as to what it means and whether it is relevant to them."
Feminism and advertising have long been uncomfortable bedfellows. So the awkwardness of the project is almost tangible. (And it's something that Cosslett and Baxter have openly acknowledged on their blog)
But can a little image makeover really bring feminism to a bigger audience? And if so, is a glossy campaign dreamed up by advertising agencies and fashion magazines what women need?
While the concept is no doubt catchy, the fact that it is produced and promoted by the very same industries that are responsible for body image problems is hard to reconcile with. Also, as Jezebel's Callie Beusman points out, "Rejecting the idea that feminists are masculine, aggressive and angry only serves to reinforce patriarchal ideas that women should never be angry or aggressive or masculine."
After all, at the heart of feminism is a yearning for change, an expectation to be treated equally and the drive to be difficult and uncompromising if need be. We only need to look around us to see that there is momentum gathering around gender issues. So perhaps it's not feminism that needs to be more 'marketable' or 'likeable', but the taste makers and editors who need to feel more comfortable with it.