Selling Sex — The Fairer Sex, That Is

This month’s Fast Company poses an interesting question: Can we rebrand girls? As in, the idea that baby girls are as desirable, if not more so, than baby boys?

In India and China, the preference for sons is seen as pragmatic and economically sound, a choice often exercised by educated, upwardly mobile parents, making this a form of “consumer eugenics” (a term coined by Mara Hvistendahl, the author of the 2011 book Unnatural Selection). Cultures with such a pronounced boy bias tend to also have a tradition of “patrilocality,” where daughters go to live with their husbands’ families, while sons stay at home and inherit property. In China, where one-child families have been official policy since 1979, the aging population has resulted in the so-called 4-2-1 problem: four grandparents, two parents, and just one child. According to the old customs, that one child, the economic mainstay, had better be a boy. The situation in India is similar. As one newspaper ad for sonograms put it: “Spend 500 rupees now or 500,000 rupees later”–on a dowry.

FC asked some ad agencies to take a shot at a rebranding effort. Here’s an ad from Cramer-Krasselt:

See all the ads here. Do any of them make a persuasive case to you? Or are the ads too much of an America-centric stab at a nuanced global issue?



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.