Sally Hansen’s New Campaign Shows World In Which Gender Norms Are Reversed

Wondering what the world would be like if it were run by smart, stylish, self-made women? Allow Sally Hansen to polish your imagination. The widely recognized nail care brand, which is owned by Coty Inc., just debuted SheTopia, a global campaign that showcases a parallel universe in which gender norms are reversed and women prevail in all aspects of life. Throughout the video, you’ll catch cheeky gender references, such as a newspaper headline that reads “Body Confidence At All-Time High,” a reporter in a press conference asking about equal pay for men, a female soccer player scoring on a guy in what appears to be a professional league game, and a man—get this—apologizing for interrupting his female colleague in a meeting. It’s hard not to aspire to this world.

The real message, however, comes from the women you see throughout the short film, which was produced by an almost entirely female crew that included award-winning director Natalie Rae. These starlets are, in fact, nine real women from around the world who have, in the face of adversity, broken major boundaries. From mothers to activists to CEOs to athletes, the film captures each of their empowering stories. “There’s something that ties all of these women together,” Rae said in a press release. “They bring this sense of confidence and collectivity—a sense of freedom.”

What these women share is a fearless and unapologetic drive, and by sharing their stories, they hope to empower other women. Eniola Aluka, a Chelsea FC soccer player who is featured in the film, explains: “My personal Shetopia is soccer equality. I used to play with boys and was often better than them.” The film also includes activist Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid, an organization that helps to educate women looking to cultivate the career of their dreams, and Angela Benton, who is probably best described as a HBIC (aka Head Bitch In Charge). Benton is a business woman and pioneer of diversity in the tech industry, in which black and Latinx workers combined make up just 5 percent of the workforce and women only 24 percent, according to recent research. I won’t fail to mention the fact that she is also a mother of three and cancer survivor.

“It shows the power of self-made women—what they are doing and will continue to do to positively influence the world.”

Sally Hansen, the namesake of the brand, was a pioneering woman in her own right. In a time when most women ran households, she created an empire instead. After acquiring her parents’ cosmetic store in 1935, she turned it into a corporation called House of Hollywood, which included brands in the fragrance, cosmetic, and hair care categories. It was 10 years later when Hansen set up Sally Hansen Inc. and trademarked “Hard As Nails,” which remains the best-selling product in the line to date. “A visionary beyond her years, she believed that beauty was more than lipstick, nail polish, and being well-groomed. She exemplified boundless energy, innate business savvy, and steely confidence,” says the Coty team.

“Our new positioning is directly inspired by the life of the brand’s founder Sally Hansen whose story we have just recently discovered. She truly lived ahead of her time and empowered other women to live their lives the way they wanted to. Her story inspired me to drive our communication in this direction,” Jeremy Lowenstein, Global Marketing VP at Sally Hansen, tells us. “In this way, we stay authentic to the founder and brand heritage but also relevant to women today.”

While it can certainly be argued that women are already succeeding in many of the scenarios shown in SheTopia—from picking up the check to running a business as a mother to dating younger men—the campaign is meant to incite a conversation about the progress that still needs to be made regarding gender equality. In 2017, women are still making 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, still advocating for basic health care, still seeking reasonable paid time off to look after their newborns, and still trying to convince the world that breastfeeding is not a provocative act.

But on a lighter note, SheTopia also serves as reminder of all the incredible things women are capable of. “It shows the power of self-made women—what they are doing and will continue to do to positively influence the world,” says Lowenstein.

Watch the inspiring short film by Sally Hansen below.