Leo Burnett and Always Take on Gendered Emojis in New #LikeAGirl Video

By Patrick Coffee Comment

like a girl

Everyone communicates in emojis now, from your little brother to your grandmother and, of course, your well-educated copywriter.

But emojis aren’t just a way for you to seem a little cooler/more casual with your texts or for brands to appeal to younger, more “with it” consumers.

A new campaign for Always by Leo Burnett Chicago argues that those little cartoons can–like so many other things in our society–serve to reinforce negative stereotypes regarding gender.

The short, which debuted today, makes a pretty compelling case.

Like the girls in this video, we were frankly unaware of the complete dearth of professional female emoji characters. (This may also be because we usually stick to cartoon faces, dogs and poop.)

For further evidence, consider the “new” emojis approved at the end of 2015: they included a Mrs. Santa Claus, a pregnant woman, a woman doing a #facepalm and a bunch of animals…but nothing to counter the trends so clearly demonstrated above.

As P&G associate brand director/”Like a Girl” leader Michele Baeten told Adweek today:

“We know that girls, especially during puberty, try to fit in and are therefore easily influenced by society. In fact, we found that 7 out of 10 girls even felt that society limits them, by projecting what they should or should not do, or be.”

Even the most aggressive “anti-PC” folks have to admit that this is true…and little things like the dearth of female professionals in the world of emojis do, in fact, make a difference on some level.

This work follows Dove’s request for more curly-haired emojis as part of Ogilvy’s #LoveYourCurls campaign. The gender divide in the text-face world may be more significant than a lack of redheads or characters with curly hair, but the whole topic is a bit of a minefield.

Remember when Apple began allowing users to “racialize” emojis early last year? On the one hand, this move allowed many people to more accurately reflect their own appearances in their messaging and social media efforts. On the other hand, it also further complicated the matter by allowing certain users to make racist jokes.

This campaign at least makes clear that smartphones need a more varied set of female emojis.

Now how does the Unicode Emoji Consortium work, again?


Client: P&G Always
Agency: Leo Burnett Chicago
Campaign: Always #LikeAGirl – Emojis
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

Color: Company 3
Colorist: Tyler Roth
Finish: Method Studios
Finish Artist: Ryan Wood
Post Production Producer: Lauren Roth