Ad Nut
Apr 25, 2024

What's in a name? A new campaign explores labels, liberation and legacy

WATCH: Unilever's powerful new initiative encourages women in China to defy tradition, shed sexist names and reshape their identity.

Picture this: A girl child in China bears the name Yà Nán, which translates literally to “second to man” or “inferior to man.” Now, feel the constant stress of living in the shadows, bound by the invisible chains of the name—perpetually striving to prove one’s value and worth because a traditional label has already predetermined it. “This name brings me constant stress,” she says. “All my life, I have had to work harder than men to prove myself.”

In the wild, names hold no sway. A tiger doesn’t care whether it’s called “stripy” or “shadow dancer.” It stalks and preys in silence, indifferent to the syllables humans string together. For Ad Nut and its ilk, unburdened by the weight of language, labels are inconsequential. Whether dubbed a “cashew hoarder,” “twig-juggler,” or even a “charismatic tail flasher,” concerns around names are as distant as the horizon.

But for humans, the struggle is real. Names define them; they are more than mere words. Parents fuss over them, seeking the perfect label for their offspring. Yet, too often, these names become relics of the past—a reminder of antiquity and oppression that women endure, limiting the potential of those who bear them.

Unilever's Lux understands this pervasive issue. To observe the beauty brands' centennial milestone, they've launched the "In Her Name" campaign to shatter the chains of tradition and empower women with names that reflect their true strength and potential. 

To give more context, in China, many female names carry deep-rooted biases that emphasise traditional feminine qualities like softness and submissiveness. In stark contrast, male names evoke strength, wisdom, and untamed potential. Worse still, some names blatantly reflect parental preferences for boys, perpetuating gender bias throughout a woman’s life. 

Crafted with the creative arm of VML Singapore, the effort challenges societal norms and urges women to redefine their identities and embrace names that exude power, resilience, and modernity. Whether for their daughters or themselves, it’s 2024, and women deserve names that push them forward, not hold them back.

The insights backing the campaign are staggering: 47% of surveyed women desire to long for a name change. With roughly one in two women wishing for names that mirror their inner strength and aspirations, Lux worked with linguistics professor and language expert Liu Yanchun on 100 new names that are in tune with the times.

Instead of highlighting outdated ‘feminine’ traits such as ‘quiet’, ‘loveable’, and ‘small’ or a sexist preference for a son such as ‘welcome younger brother’, the new names evoke strength and potential, from 佳睿, meaning ‘beautiful and wise’ to 明奕, meaning' a girl with a bright future’. 

Professor Liu Yan Chun, Linguistics and Applied Linguistics Communication, University of China, discusses the effort: “While creating new names, I’ve drawn inspiration from classical literature, embraced positive connotations, and addressed contemporary societal needs. Through this diverse lens, I’ve curated names for women.”

The 100 new names have been released on China’s Little Red Book platform (Xiaohongshu), which boasts 312 million monthly active users. Each name is brought to life by a striking image of a woman that embodies each name's strong, powerful and inspiring associations.  

Whilst Ad Nut does not sense a groundswell revolution here, its smiling in admiration at the creativity of this original idea and the boldness of this endeavour. The resounding call to action in this campaign that tells women to reclaim and rewrite the script of their lives is a reflection of Ad Nut's own ethos—a reminder that true potential knows no bounds and that labels are but whispers in the wind compared to the roar of inner strength.

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.

 

Source:
Campaign Asia

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