What does it really mean to run “like a girl?”
As some 48 million viewers of a recent ad campaign by Always Feminine Products have seen, when the question was posed to teenage girls, they responded by flapping their arms, making wobbly strides and showing strained facial expressions. Yet when younger girls got the question, running like a girl suddenly meant running as fast as you can.
Always struck a nerve with the release of their new campaign by challenging the all-too-common notion that doing something “like a girl” constitutes an insult. The video also helped focus awareness on a larger issue: Once girls enter puberty their self-confidence plummets. In fact, according to an Always study, more than half of girls experienced this drop in confidence at the start of puberty; confidence also takes a significant hit at the start of middle school.
Through this campaign Always has become more than a feminine products company. They have become an advocate for female empowerment — for, as their video highlights, girls entering puberty and beyond, their target lifetime consumer, urgently need guidance and support in breaking through harmful gender stereotypes and building a strong, confident sense of self.
Always, and Pantene, with their recent #ShineStrong campaign, are prime examples of effective advocacy marketing — an ongoing dedication to aligning the deeply held interests of a company’s consumer base with the organization’s core business strategies.
By taking up the issue of female empowerment, both Always and Pantene are signaling their interest in helping customers grapple with one of their most fundamental concerns. As Dove Soap’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” proved, when you adopt a long-term focus on issues your customers really care about, the impact can be both social and financial.
This year marked the 10-year anniversary of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, dubbed one of modern marketing’s most talked about success stories by the Huffington Post. As of June 2013, the Dove Real Beauty Sketches ad was the most watched online ad ever, with 163 million global views, according to Unilever. The ad also topped the Cannes YouTube Ad Leaderboard and won the 2013 Titanium Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Dove’s decade-long commitment to tackling issues critical to their consumer base has challenged — and arguably altered — society’s preconceived notions of beauty. Research on the campaign’s tenure conducted by Harvard psychologist Nancy Etcoff found that, today, more women than before are defining “beauty” according to a broad range of qualities extending beyond physical appearance.
What’s more, Real Beauty is helping to build Dove’s bottom line. In the 10 years since the campaign launched, Dove sales have increased from $2.5 billion to $4 billion, according to a PR case study conducted by News Generation.
Will Always’ campaign help change the stereotype of what it means to do something “like a girl?” Only time will tell. But in the meantime, we believe that all companies focused on serving girls and women have an opportunity to understand even better — and communicate even more forcefully — what it takes to build and sustain the critical sense of empowerment that can make such a difference in the lives of their customers. No question that the need is there — and the bottom line will show it.
Video Credit: Always #LikeAGirl via You Tube