The marketing around International Woman’s Day gets more sophisticated every year. All around the world on March 8th brands create and share increasingly creative content to join in with global calls for female empowerment and gender equality.
But yesterday’s article – “International Women’s Day: F*ck off brands” – in The Drum got me thinking about how I feel about today’s big brands using International Women’s Day as a chance to hijack hashtags and increase share of voice. Are these brands belittling a serious cause? Or helping us to shout louder?
It has to be said there is exploitation at play here: capitalizing on global events to drive brand awareness is real-time marketing at its finest. Get it right and it pays dividends. These days ‘getting it right’ means creating sticky, shareable content that has the ability to quickly go viral. Producing the kind of content that gets your brand recognised – even better, remembered – for International Women’s Day, might be a marketer’s dream; but it also helps to broadcast a vital message to the masses.
I am lucky enough to have been supported by many inspiring female leaders throughout my career – I’ve worked with brilliant female CEOs, MDs, thought leaders, business owners, and they’ve all helped to build up my abilities and my ambitions. But it’s important to remember that we have a long way to go. Still today the numbers of women in UK boardrooms are appallingly low – there are more people called ‘John’ chairing the FTSE 100, then there are women. I mean, really?
So, whatever the motive, there is something to be said for having big brands get behind an important cause and help give a critical message the airtime it deserves. We must work together to make a difference.
But we must also demand that brands match their marketing messages with concerted action. Only by holding brands accountable, and demanding that they follow through on their commitment to equality, will we start to see meaningful change.
This International Women’s Day, do I want brands to F*** off? I’m not sure that I do – but I do want them to put their money where their mouth is.
Don’t just say equal; be equal.
By Eden Sanders