Sarah Jessica Parker on real advertising to real women

Sarah Jessica ParkerCannes 2014: Sarah Jessica Parker (below) gets inspired and empowered even when she’s stuck in traffic apparently. At a press conference at the Palais following her seminar on Monday, the Sex & The City star revealed she had a moment in a cab when she looked out and saw lots of different women of different “shapes, sizes and colours” and from round the world, expressing their own individual fashion sense and looking and “dressing like themselves.” “It’s thrilling to live in a time and place when they can do that and feel confident,” she said.

When asked for her opinion of how the advertising world depicts these women of all shapes and sizes, SJP’s response was considerably diplomatic – probably a wise move considering she had the fixed gaze of the global advertising industry upon her.

“I don’t have a doctorate in this particular area,” she admitted, adding: “I see really smart, careful, thoughtful campaigns and… exploitative campaigns for both men and women.” She then singled out Dove for its “amazing way of talking about women”.

Cosmopolitan editor Joanna Coles, who joined SJP on stage and at the press conference, pointed to the Pantene ‘Labels’ campaign is an example of advertising that is in touch with women. She went on to hail the progress that is being made: “I think advertisers are so conscious now of catching up with what’s going on with women’s real lives.”

But do the stats match up with this sentiment? At the SheSays forum at Cannes the day before, a panel debated why even though 80 per cent of purchases across every category are made by women, 90 per cent of women don’t not feel advertising understands them. So while the likes of Dove and Pantene might be making strides, there is still a long way to go before advertising comes close to being relevant to women’s real lives.

For now it’s encouraging to see that at least the debate is taking place and getting a higher profile. Though there are still some people who still haven’t quite got with the female empowerment programme. As Sarah Jessica Parker walked into the press conference, one male journalist in the press pack cooed loudly “Oooh, mon amour.”

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About Jane Austin

Jane Austin is the founder and owner of PR agency Persuasion Communications.