Empowering Videos of Women Are Trending

And this is a good thing, whether it's music videos by Colbie Caillat and John Legend or viral ads by Dove and Pantene. Sorry not sorry.

John Legend’s new music video “You & I” (above) is nothing like “Blurred Lines.” Colbie Caillat’s new video “Try” is no “Wrecking Ball.” Rather, the two artists follow in the footsteps of a growing marketing trend of featuring confident women to encourage and empower others—as opposed to objectifying them, à la Mad Men days and old-school Super Bowl commercials.

The ad campaigns that target female audiences have been popping up more and more in the last year or so, many falling in line with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” philosophy. They feature women both famous and unknown, young and old.

Legend’s new video, which was released Friday, includes Laverne Cox, a transgender actress who was just nominated for an Emmy for her role in Orange Is the New Black. Both “You & I” and Caillat’s “Try” (above), which came out Tuesday, show women embracing their natural selves by removing their makeup and owning their unique body types. The videos are reminiscent of recent ad campaigns by such brands as Dove and Pantene.

Regardless of what the viral videos are promoting or selling—shampoo, shoes, toys, tech, and so on—they all primarily focus on sending women of all ages positive messages about self-perception and how we perceive other women. They are all, in their own right, effective examples of PR gone right.

Here, 10 more viral videos that encourage girls and empower women.


Pantene: “Not Sorry”

Even though the haircare company’s new brand ambassador Gisele Bundchen is anything but “just like us,” Pantene’s #ShineStrong campaign encourages women to be bold and not apologize for things they shouldn’t be sorry about—like “asking stupid questions” during meetings.


Pantene: “Labels Against Women”

Consider this Pantene’s sucker punch at double standards in the workplace. “Boss”es become “Bossy” and “Dedicated” become “Selfish” in an ad that shows how women are treated in the professional world when they behave like men.


Dove: “Real Beauty Sketches”

Not all of Dove’s social experiments are hits (one well-intentioned ad even made women look gullible). But “Real Beauty Sketches” generally resonated positively with online audiences for showing how women perceive themselves versus others. They are asked first to describe themselves to a police sketch artist. Then they are asked to describe someone else in the experiment. The results are enlightening.


Dove: “Selfie”

In another portrait project by Dove, female students and their mothers at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, are given an assignment to take selfies (no filters!), which are then displayed in an art show.


Nike: “Voices”

Great female athletes like basketball player Lisa Leslie and Joan Benoit Samuelson lend their voices to young girls in this Nike ad. Benoit Samuelson, winner of the very first women’s marathon race in the Olympic Games (1984, Los Angeles) shares that at age 55, she still runs 70 miles a week. Best line in this video: “They used to say, ‘That girl is crazy,’ but then I just kept winning.”


Adidas: “All In for My Girls”

Active women go “all in” in this upbeat commercial for Adidas. The song? “Boyz 4 Breakfast” by Natalie Storm.


Verizon: “Inspire Her Mind”

Beauty and fitness are not the only industries that recognize the importance of encouraging young women. This new Verizon ad joins a growing effort to get more girls into high-tech STEM fields. Scenes include a father telling a girl using a power drill to hand it to her brother instead. Rude.


Windows: “Celebrating the Heroic Women of 2013”

Malala Yousafzai, Margaret Thatcher, and Gabrielle Giffords are among the women saluted in this video for Bing. They also include dance teacher Adrianne Haslet-Davis. She lost a leg during the Boston Marathon bombings, but vowed to dance again. She did, at TED2014 in March.


CoverGirl: “Girls Can”

Girls can’t check in hockey? Psh. CoverGirl spokeswomen Ellen DeGeneres, Queen Latifah, Sofia Vergara, and others defy archaic “girl’s can’t” beliefs.


Always: “Like a Girl”

In this new video, women, men, and boys are asked to do things “like a girl.” When they demonstrate, you immediately want to shake your head in shame. Then actual girls are asked to do the same thing, and a smile comes to your face. The experiment proves a disheartening theory: “A girl’s confidence plummets during puberty,” something we as a society ought to change.