International Women's Day brand marketing. The good, the bad, the ugly.
Happy International Women's Day! These are exciting times for equality, with loud conversations that will hopefully continue to move beyond the hashtag.
And naturally, with brands more aligned to making social, political and cultural statements than ever before, everyone who's anyone is jumping on the equality bandwagon. But who's using their power to really help make change and who's in it for the exposure? Here, the Echo team share our take on the International Women's Day campaigns that are doing it for us...and what's not.
First up is Brewdog's PINK IPA, a repackaging of its flagship PUNK IPA, selling 20% cheaper in bars to those who identify as women to highlight the UK pay gap. It is arguably a worthy attempt to sarcastically and ironically expose some of the patronising and clichéd attempts by other brewers and spirits brands attempting to champion women (not naming any names Jane Walker!). However, is this a case of subtlety and sarcasm gone a step too far? Sometimes a good point can be lost in the way it is made.
Arguably, PINK aside, what is interesting is that we are beginning to see a complete new visual representation of women as the female voice begins to become listened to more.
Brands including Vodafone, Unilever and Coca-Cola have joined the UN Women Un-stereotype Alliance which aims to eliminate gender bias and harmful gender stereotypes in advertising and marketing. Vodafone is also a HeforShe Impact Champion with a maternity policy that offers 16 weeks full pay and lets parents come back to work for four days but get paid for five. This activity gives a real authenticity to marketing activity like the Vodafone's Raising Voices Video for IWD 2018.
And so to the McDonald's upside down arches (making a 'W' for Women of course!), KFC's Claudia Sanders (celebrating the wife of the Colonel), and the big brand hash taggers, let's make sure to be combining the marketing with some actual change making policies to help make equality in the work place real. An inspired example of a brand walking the talk is Penguin Random House. Their pop-up bookstore, a collaboration with Waterstones, features female-only authors. This celebration of female literary persistence is refreshing and shows the hurdles we've overcome, given there was once a time ripe with the 'nom de plume'.
Great brands create design that is appreciated by all. Their message and delivery resonates across cultures, genders and divides through connecting with universal truths. And similarly, as well as celebrating the power of women driving change, let's champion the men in support. Brands needs to showcase another view of men. Those on parental leave, those caring for the elderly, and men that appreciate that equality is better for them too. Breast Cancer Charity CoppaFeel do this brilliantly. For an illness that medically affects more women, Coppafeels branding and marketing is wonderfully equal in tone, design and ambassadors. They showcase that this is an issue that affects us all.