Breaking barriers: The top 5 marketing campaigns aimed exclusively at women

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This week, get ready to be inspired as our intern, Amelie, takes the stage in our blog. Amelie is delving into marketing campaigns aimed exclusively at women, spotlighting the top 5 that have captured hearts and minds. From breaking stereotypes to celebrating diversity, join Amelie as she uncovers the strategies behind these impactful campaigns.

Written by Amelie Ng, Swansea University Intern:

This month is Women's History Month, and to celebrate, I want to discuss my top five marketing campaigns aimed at women. All of the campaigns chosen present women as strong and independent, breaking the stereotypical norms of how women have often historically been presented in the media and advertising.

 H&M – ‘She’s a Lady’ 2016

The H&M marketing campaign subverted stereotypes and encouraged women to be confident and fearless with their fashion choices. The advert showed a range of different women and outfits, subverting the usual ‘ladylike’ clothes women stereotypically wear.

H&M intended to make a marketing campaign that would break down gender norms, encourage self-expression, and celebrate women. The advert focused on fashion rather than consumerism. The marketing campaign creates a brand narrative that consumers can immerse themselves in.

The marketing strategy used in the campaign takes a socio-cultural stance using unconventional role models. It includes a range of women instead of conventional fashion models. The transgender model Hari Nef, boxer Fatima Pinto, and actress Lauren Hutton (who’s 72) are included in the advert. Women are portrayed as reinventing what it means to be “feminine”. Self-expression is seen through women indulging in food, dancing in front of their own bathroom mirror, and “manspreading” on the train.

 Barbie – ‘International Women’s Day’ 2023

To celebrate international women’s day 2023 Matel encouraged girls to pursue STEM subjects and opportunities. Matel created different Barbie’s of female scientists such as Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock. The campaign wanted to inspire younger generations of women to engage and go onto STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. The different barbie dolls resemble inspirational female leaders within the STEM subject, and include the equipment they use too, like telescopes.

 Dove – ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ 2013

Real Beauty Sketches marketing campaign highlighted the issues of pressures on women to look a certain way. The advert has women talking to a forensic artist, describing how they look. Then talking to another woman and having her describe the other person to the forensic artist. The women then look at both drawings and compare how they see themselves to how other people perceive them.

The marketing strategy used by Dove was STPD (segmentation, targeting, positioning, and differentiation). Dove’s target segment for the advert is women of all ages, in particular women who suffer from low self-esteem due to their appearance. Dove positions itself as accepting and promotes the message that people should embrace all types of looks. The

differentiation Dove shows is different from other beauty companies, as it shows they view the customers as unique and beautiful in opposition of traditional media and society's beauty standard/expectations.

Always – ‘Like A Girl’ 2018

The campaign asked a range of people to act ‘like a girl’, while running, playing with a ball and other sports activities. Teenagers (both male and female) would run pathetically or act weak; however, the younger girls would try their best to run fast and put effort into doing the actions.

The marketing strategy used in the Always campaign was reframing the meaning of ‘like a girl’, changing the negative stereotype into a positive affirmation. The Always campaign wanted to highlight that continuously women are demoralised and patronised by the phrase ‘like a girl’. Always wanted to encourage people to think ‘like a girl’ is not criticism. Instead, Always want to make it into a positive saying.

The campaign’s goal was to deconstruct gender stereotypes and make a powerful video about what it means to do something ‘like a girl’. Always wanted to encourage girls to embrace their strengths and abilities. The Always campaign is in partnership with Girls on the Run and Women’s Sports Foundation. The campaign gained multiple awards like the coveted Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The Like A Girl campaign led to 85% of girls feel more encouraged to keep trying after experiencing a failure and 70% of young girls believe they’d be more confident if they played sports.

My Pale Skin – ‘You Look Disgusting’ 2015

In 2015, a YouTuber, Emily (‘My Pale Skin’), created a campaign showing how women should be body confident, and the negativity surrounding women’s appearances online. The video shows Emily without any makeup, and negative comments from people are written behind her. She then puts on makeup and positive comments appear behind her, then the rude comments come back. At the end of the video, Emily takes off the makeup and new rude comments appear behind her.

Emily wanted to create a film that shows the realities of social media and how it can set unrealistic expectations for women. Emily states that: “We're so used to seeing false images of perfection, and comparing ourselves to unrealistic beauty standards that It can be hard to remember the most important thing – you are beautiful.”

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