International Women’s Day: The Best Of Pro-Female Ads In Singapore

Cul­ture and soci­ety as a whole have under­gone many changes since our grand­moth­ers’ and great-grand­moth­ers’ gen­er­a­tion. Amidst the tide of the west­ern influ­ence came the new era of equal­i­ty.

Equal­i­ty between race, reli­gion and of course, the sex­es.

Today marks Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day, a day to cel­e­brate women and their achieve­ments in a once male-dom­i­nat­ed world. While some may argue that it is still patri­ar­chal, the oppor­tu­ni­ties giv­en to women have increased and glass ceil­ings have been smashed: What men can do, women can do too — or even bet­ter.

Adver­tise­ments, be it print media or dig­i­tal, great­ly reflects soci­etal behav­iours. It is vox pop­uli — the voice of the peo­ple. How women were por­trayed then ver­sus now may be entire­ly dif­fer­ent with the change in times. Society’s reac­tion to rad­i­cal adverts then reflects its readi­ness for new changes and uncon­ven­tion­al ideas, which may become accept­ed as the new norm in time to come.

There­fore, adver­tise­ments evince two dichotomies: cat­alyt­ic cul­tur­al change and deep-set tra­di­tions. Accept­ing an advert means the lat­ter, and an uproar means soci­ety will cog­i­tate and the seed of change will take root.

Here are some adver­tise­ments shown in Sin­ga­pore that con­tain fem­i­nism under­tones and over­tones. They, in their own unique ways, encour­age and por­tray the women to be ahead of the game.

Sin­ga­pore Armed Forces

A major­i­ty of our Sin­ga­pore Armed Forces per­son­nel are men — all of the Sin­ga­pore­an men, in fact. But that does not mean that women can­not join the army! SAF has been hard at work in ensur­ing that the female pop­u­la­tion feels just as wel­comed as the men.

The posters up on the MRT sta­tions have both a fair share of men and women to high­light the fact that women can also play a big part in pro­tect­ing Sin­ga­pore.


Women and their inor­di­nate love for shoes. While com­muters may casu­al­ly pass this MRT sta­tion bill­board off as an innocu­ous ad, it spawned a ‘com­plaint’ from AMARE (Asso­ci­a­tion for Men’s Actions and Research) — a par­o­dy on AWARE (Asso­ci­a­tion for Women’s Actions and Research).

The report was first pub­lished on spoof news site New Nation. As a retort to women’s gripes about patri­archy, AMARE felt that this par­tic­u­lar SMRT adver­tise­ment is too pro-female. Accord­ing to the organ­i­sa­tion, “a lot of this kind of mes­sag­ing say­ing vio­lence against men is alright has been nor­malised to the extent we don’t think twice about it. But not any­more.”

Has the rights of women now trumped that of the men? While we know that New Nation and AMARE are par­o­dies, it speaks vol­umes about how this adver­tise­ment is impact­ful enough to prompt them to stir the pot.


Dove launched a cam­paign called “My Beau­ty My Say” in 2016. Try­ing to break the prej­u­dice and unfair stereo­types against women, Dove fea­tured women who stood up for their own indi­vid­ual beau­ty, in hopes of encour­ag­ing more women to do so too. Dove and a few oth­er brands kicked off the #femver­tis­ing trend, or fem-adver­tis­ing, using female-empow­ered mes­sages to adver­tise their prod­ucts.

Burg­er King

While some may say this objec­ti­fies women — the ‘buns’ bear a strik­ing resem­blance to a cer­tain female anato­my — we think it’s a good use of humour. Fur­ther­more, the whole tone of the advert plays up the women instead of belit­tling them. “ What women want. Women get.” It sneers at the men’s obser­va­tion skills, albeit just in good fun.

Burg­er King has been known to embrace con­tro­ver­sy in their adver­tis­ing cam­paigns and this is one exam­ple of an ad that is bold and unapolo­getic.

This Van Heusen adver­tise­ment would have been con­demned now, but it was nor­mal back then. The role of women is no longer so sin­gu­lar as being con­fined at home (although there is noth­ing wrong with that, if that is your choice). We are now allowed to express our­selves and endeav­our as the men do, and it is some­thing worth cel­e­brat­ing about.

Com­pared to the adver­tise­ments of the past, we have come a long way in terms of advo­cat­ing for female rights. Adver­tis­ers have to now be extra tact­ful in their cam­paigns, or face back­lash from the pub­lic and have the brand go down in both women’s scorn and flames. 

Hap­py Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day!

Leave a Reply