10 inspirational marketing campaigns that promote gender equality
Proof that sometimes advertising can promote gender equality
These campaigns prove that corporate success can also promote gender equality, it doesn't have to be one or the other.
Marketing tends to reflect public opinion. So it must be a good sign that in recent years we have seen more and more ad campaigns that advocate for female strength, promote gender equality and smash stereotypes.
These days brands are happier to align themselves with causes and incorporate important issues into their campaigns. Gender equality is one of those topics and has been harnessed by many brands. And whether the goal is to get women into sport, or sell more t-shirts, this at least raises awareness and sparks discussion.
Take a look at these 10 inspirational marketing campaigns from the last few years that promote gender equality.
1. This Girl Can - Sport England
Girls can’t throw. Girls can’t play football. ‘This girl can’ is a campaign developed by Sport England that says girls can, and encourages more females to play sports. And it certainly serves up a huge dollop of inspiration, alongside images of girls and women killing it at all sports under the sun. It was first aired in 2015 and is still going today.
Provocative and powerful, girls from 6 to 13 dressed as princesses deliver facts about gender inequality from the pay gap to sexual assault. Oh, and these are all delivered with a whole lot of swearing. The idea is that something is wrong if you are more offended by a little girl dropping the f word than at the sexist way women are treated in society. A 2014 campaign that caused a stir.
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3. #TheRaceIsOn - Western Union
A campaign that says that every girl should be in the race for success. From being the first female leader of the US to being the first person to step foot on Mars. It highlights education as the key to this. In fact the 2017 campaign supported moving money to support female education and went alongside Western Union’s WU Scholars Programs supporting girls in technology and science.
4. Real Beauty - Dove
This worldwide marketing campaign included advertisements, videos, workshops, events and even a book and a play. It is all about redefining impossible beauty standards and showing a more realistic and diverse representation of women than what we usually see in the media. It included a "Sketches" campaign, where all different types of women were sketched. The idea is to empower women and allow everyone to recognise themselves in the models used. It was first launched in 2004 and its great success has led to many reappearances.
5. Viva la Vulva - Bodyform
This award-winning campaign was first launched in Sweden and Denmark in 2018 and made it across to the UK last year. In a world that makes girls feel ashamed about their private parts, Viva la vulva lays it all out. A provocative montage of images that resemble the female parts, this is a campaign to celebrate the vulva. Bodyform aims to turn that shame into pride.
6. I Shape my World - Levi´s
This 2019 campaign to celebrate International Women’s day highlights extraordinary women that are making a difference. From activists to athletes around the globe, it is a campaign that aims to inspire females everywhere.
7. What are Girls Made Of? - Nike Russia
A campaign that waves goodbye to stereotypes, particularly those felt by women in Russia. This 2017 campaign is a twist on an old Russian nursery rhyme that says girls are made from sweet things, flowers and marmalade. Instead this song turns into a list of the strengths that girls have.
8. Girls Do Science - Microsoft
This 2018 campaign by Microsoft looks at the gender divide that begins in school. Little girls who enjoy science express the barriers they feel to taking a ‘boys’ subject. Microsoft sends them an inspirational reminder to keep on with science and promote females in STEM.
9. Find your Sanctuary - Sanctuary Spa
A campaign released in 2015 where women from the older generations highlight the amount of pressure on young women in society. In a world where 7 out of 10 women feel pressure to be the ‘perfect woman’, it encourages women to look after their bodies and minds.
10. Look at Me - Women’s Aid
Huge interactive billboards went up showing shocking photos of the effects of domestic violence. These were put in public spaces like train stations and shopping centres as part of the international campaign in 2015. The agency worked with renowned photographer Rankin to create the work. ‘Look at Me’ is more than just a provocative headline. Smart technology meant that the more people who looked at the billboard, the quicker the women’s injuries would disappear.
So whatever your thoughts on bringing activist ideas into the marketing space, these campaigns certainly open up discussion on gender inequality in the mainstream. Until we achieve total parity of the sexes, they serve as a reminder of the battle for equality that still goes on!
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