On Sunday, the feminine hygiene company Always ran an emotional ad during the Super Bowl encouraging viewers to turn the term “like a girl” into a compliment. Many found the ad to be touching and inspirational -- but not everyone was happy with it.
In the ad, an interviewer asks young men and women to demonstrate what it means to run, throw or fight “like a girl.” The same interviewer then asked young girls, 10 years old or younger, to demonstrate what “like a girl” means, and their answers are vastly different. The ad ends with a message on screen: “A girl’s confidence plummets during puberty, but it doesn’t have to. Let’s make #LikeAGirl mean amazing things.”
While much of the response to the ad on social media was largely positive, it did not go without backlash. The hashtag #LikeABoy quickly sprang up on Twitter in response to the ad, with some men claiming that the “Like a Girl” ad was exclusionary and sexist. The hashtag quickly gained traction and became a trending topic on Twitter. Some men asked where their "Like a Boy" ad was.
By late Sunday night, the #LikeABoy hashtag already had over 25,000 mentions, and reached 32,000 mentions by Monday morning, according to the Twitter analytics tool Topsy. However, the hashtag quickly backfired on its creators. Many people who saw the hashtag took the opportunity to post tweets in support of the ad and its message, turning the tide of the conversation around. Many of those users also criticized those promoting the #LikeABoy hashtag, highlighting the ways in which sexism still persists in society and pointing out that an ad that empowers girls doesn't necessarily hurt men.
However, the #LikeABoy protesters appear to have been a vocal, but small, minority. Overall, the #LikeAGirl hashtag promoted in the Always ad received over 266,000 mentions on Twitter, many of them largely positive. The ad was one of the most buzzed-about Super Bowl ads of the night.