Editor’s Note: Kelly Wallace is CNN’s digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. Read her other columns and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.
A 60-second version of the #LikeAGirl video will air during the Super Bowl
The video has been viewed more than 80 million times online, according to Always
Women say that showcasing the ad during the Super Bowl could have an enormous impact
Sorry, I can’t contain my excitement about this one.
Remember the #LikeAGirl video, which became a sensation last summer? It’s now been viewed online more than 80 million times worldwide, according to the company behind it, Always, a maker of sanitary pads. And it’s about to reach even more viewers.
The powerful video so clearly demonstrated how the phrase “like a girl” gins up negative and weak stereotypes.
When adolescent girls, older women and boys were asked to demonstrate how to “run like a girl” or “fight like a girl,” their arms flailed as they ran and awkwardly slapped instead of throwing powerful punches.
Contrast that with prepubescent girls, girls 10 and younger, who when asked to do the same thing ran as fast as they could and hit as hard as they could.
They were girls on fire, and to them, running “like a girl” meant nothing more than running like themselves.
Well, a 60-second version of this video is about to get its biggest audience by far when it is showcased during the Super Bowl on Sunday.
To give you a sense of the possible reach, more than 110 million people around the world watched the game last year.
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Fama Francisco, vice president of Global Always, said the company has been thrilled with the response to the ad – including over 54 million online views alone for the English version – but determined that the most-watched television event of the year could take the message even further.
“We’ve only reached one half of our girls in the United States and … even fewer boys and men with the message, so I think with such a powerful message like this and the fact that we know it’s already making an impact and changing perceptions, there’s no better platform than the Super Bowl.”
Francisco said the power of the ad is twofold. It illuminates the real and serious issue of the drop in self-confidence that girls go through at puberty and how attitudes can shift just by watching the video.
She cited a study of 1,800 Americans between the ages of 16 to 49, which was conducted by the group Research Now in December. Among girls ages 16 to 24, 76% no longer said they saw the phrase “like a girl” as an insult after watching the video, she said. Two out of three men who saw it said they would stop or think twice before using the phrase “like a girl” in a negative way.
“It’s already making an impact and changing perceptions. There’s no better platform than the Super Bowl to reach over 100 million people to spread the message and redefine the meaning of ‘like a girl,’ ” Francisco added.
This Super Bowl ad will leave you speechless
No word on the cost of the 60-second spot, but it is probably in the millions. CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that 30-second spots for Sunday night’s game on NBC cost $4.5 million.
Lauren Greenfield is a critically acclaimed director and photographer whose past works include the film “THIN” about eating disorders, the documentary “The Queen of Versailles” about the economic collapse in 2008 and the book “Girl Culture” on body image. She directed the “Like a Girl” video, which involved interviews with more than 100 people.
“The fact that ‘Like a Girl’ is playing at the Super Bowl is so exciting and important because it puts the message broadly into the mainstream, in front of men as well as women,” said Greenfield, who happens to also be a friend of my husband’s and mine.
“As we gather to celebrate one of the most important days in sports, ‘Like a Girl’ reminds a giant audience that we need to empower our daughters, sisters, and mothers to be their best, and that means playing ball and living life ‘like a girl,’ ” said Greenfield, who received a Directors Guild of America award nomination for the commercial. She says she’s the first solo female director to get a nod in the commercial category.
“I am very proud that I also broke through a barrier by directing ‘Like a Girl,’ ” she added.
NFL off-field woes tainting Super Bowl?
After a year in which the NFL has faced questions about how it handles domestic violence against women and campus sexual assaults have garnered national headlines, the #LikeAGirl ad could have an impact beyond the phrase itself, some women say.
“It is hugely significant that the #LikeAGirl commercial is being shown during the Super Bowl. The ad turns a negative stereotype of girls on its head during one of the largest sporting events watched by men (and women) all over the country,” said Jennifer Siebel Newsom, filmmaker and founder and chief executive officer of the nonprofit The Representation Project.
The Representation Project is paying close attention to what ads are shown during the Super Bowl. It is collaborating with The 3% Conference to host the second annual Super Bowl Tweetup to monitor the portrayal of women in ads during the game.
Siebel Newsom said stereotypes don’t just hurt women. They hurt boys, girls and men, too, she said.
“Especially after such a destructive year for the NFL (and the women affected by it), I hope we get to a place where we are not relying on gender stereotypes to divide us and instead can work together for a healthier culture for all,” she added.
Her newest film, “The Mask You Live In,” about the impact our narrow definition of masculinity is having on boys, men and society, just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
In addition to unveiling a 60-second clip of the video during the Super Bowl, Always is sending Karlie Harman, a 15-year-old quarterback and the only girl on her football team in Northern Virginia, to the Super Bowl as a #LikeAGirl ambassador.
The brand is encouraging people to share the video and what they proudly do #LikeAGirl on social media during the game.
“We can change the meaning of words. That’s what we are taking a stand on, and our message, which we hope will inspire girls, women, boys, is that we can make the everyday ‘like a girl’ to mean amazing things,” Always’ Francisco said.
“I think our girls deserve that.”
What do you think about the #LikeAGirl ad being shown during the Super Bowl? Share your thoughts with Kelly Wallace on Twitter or CNN Living on Facebook.