Sex sells, haven’t you heard?

Every day, thousands of companies are vying for our attention—or at least a second glance—using gimmicks and throwing curves, mostly of the female variety, to win customers to their brands.  These companies pay dearly for their print ads and blocks of airtime, but a new campaign, #WomenNotObjects, is asking consumers to consider the real cost.

Advertising veteran Madonna Badger created the #WomenNotObjects movement and video to call attention to the objectification of women in advertising.  The startling graphic video calls out ads that popped up in a generic Google search of the phrase “objectification of women,” and it’s getting a lot of recognition recently.

In fact, the hashtag has become one of the top trends, lighting up the social media-sphere and garnering celebrity support. More important, it’s starting a long overdue dialogue about the social responsibility of advertising.

It’s no secret that in the advertising industry, the people scripting, producing and designing ads are predominately male. Remember Mad Men?

A recent study released by the American Center For Progress states that only 3 percent of advertising creative directors and 16 percent of all directors, executive producers, writers and editors are women.

It’s no wonder #WomenNotObjects has the web buzzing.

If that doesn’t get you thinking, then consider the following, according to Forbes, women drive 70–80 percent of all consumer-purchasing decisions.

It’s time to change the conversation.

First, for copywriters, graphic artists, creative directors, account executives and any others who are in the business of creating brands and image: When you target consumers, do you stop to consider—really contemplate—the impact your message will have beyond the sale?

Are you also missing an opportunity to reach the real purchasing power with messages that either are condescending or offensive to this powerful purchasing group? Remember, women are not objects; they are influencers. A demographic with that kind of purchasing power is hard to ignore and should be won with dignity.

Second, for women, girls and others who feel downgraded or cheapened by this kind of advertising: Will you continue to purchase these products that promote you in a disparaging, mean-spirited way? Ultimately, you do hold the power. The power of the purse.