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Who’s leading the way this International Women’s Day?

Who’s leading the way this International Women’s Day?

We are currently at the epicentre of a new feminist movement spearheaded by the #MeToo campaign, and as a result International Women’s Day (IWD) is arguably more significant than ever before.

Given the swell of conversation calling for gender equality, IWD presents the perfect  opportunity for brands to showcase their commitment to the solution by pushing for real societal and business change.

However, not everyone has hit the mark. Here’s Stripe’s breakdown of this year’s best and worst IWD campaigns and whether they really #PressforProgress…

Mattel, Inspirational Barbies

Here’s a great example of a brand identifying an issue and taking positive steps to address it, rather than just paying it lip-service.

When Mattel, maker of Barbie, found 86% of mothers around the globe are worried about the kind of role models their daughters are exposed to, they responded by marking IWD with the release of a new range of dolls celebrating inspirational, historical women. They also released a further 14 dolls in their ‘Shero’ range, including a doll version of UK boxer Nicola Adams.

While there are currently only three dolls in the ‘Inspiring Women’ range: Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo and Katherine Johnson, Mattel assures us there will be more coming.

For those of us who can think back to playing with anatomically impossibly shaped dolls and only really being influenced by how it looked, it’s nice to think this generation will be encouraged to think ‘Yes, I can be a successful boxer, mathematician, director, artist’… the list goes on.

Well played, Mattel.

Luxor Crystal, Whisky glass ‘for women’

The Austrian firm, Luxor Crystal, known for making luxury glassware embellished with Swarovski crystals, has designed the Highlander Whisky Glass featuring ‘a new shape especially for women’.

Apparently our hand shapes are so delicate we require special glassware. Please.

The glass design itself is lovely, but the marketing campaign is misguided. Women do not need gender-specific drinking products – this condescension does not endear us to your brand. All Luxor Crystal has done is reinforce the gender stereotype that whisky is a man’s drink. Can’t women just enjoy a dram in whatever glass they choose?

Uber, #DrivenWomen

Uber’s #DrivenWomen campaign film introduces audiences to the brand’s female drivers, in a bid to challenge the oldest gender stereotype out there. The video celebrates the brand’s female drivers by showcasing their voices on how driving makes them feel and how it positively impacts on their lives – helping to actually drive change on the issue (pardon the pun).

We’re often surprised to be met by female drivers, simply because there’s less of them. And the #DrivenWomen campaign answers many of the questions passengers are afraid to ask. Why do they drive? What do they like about it? Is it becoming more common? Do passengers ever challenge their suitability for the job?

The drivers profess the benefits of being in control of their own schedules, and according to a recent global study 74% of female driver-partners cited flexibility as the key reason they drive for Uber.

The campaign has its finger on the pulse of a real issue – visibility – by showing the women behind the wheel. It’s a win for empowerment and equality, exactly what IWD stands for.

Next and Hello! Magazine, Star Mums

Unveiling an all-white, glamorous panel of celebrity mothers to judge Hello! Magazine’s ‘Star Mums’ competition, sponsored by Next, has succeeded in one thing – royally pissing off their target demographic.

The selected line up chosen to dub the publication’s Star Mum has resulted in national backlash for both brands’ ‘‘narrow view of motherhood”. Unfortunately for both Next and Hello!, they’ve managed to offend the people they were trying to empower with a poorly executed and thought-out representation of mothers in British society.

Albeit a misunderstanding, what was meant to be celebration of diverse mothers doing incredible things has gone down like a lead balloon by losing sight of the competition’s purpose.

The new Barbie ad: leading a campaign for change?

The new Barbie ad: leading a campaign for change?


The new Barbie ad ‘Imagine the Possibilities’ hit the screens last week and its timing was spot on. It’s been a month of conversations about equal rights for women – thanks to the film release of The Suffragettes and, of course, that gender pay-gap essay.

Now, we have a women’s libber Barbie too. Let’s just hope she doesn’t come in a box…

Well done though Mattel, I’m sure the launch was perfectly planned to coincide with the film’s release and the rest will have been the PR gift that’s kept on giving.

It’s certainly got people talking – like all bold, new campaigns should. Of course, some people love it but there are haters of its very nature too. It is still Barbie after all.

Personally, I think Mattel has nailed it – it’s inspiring, positive and shows that girls can aim for more than their dream house, shopping and marrying someone like Ken. It’s emotive too. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it a brought a wee tear to my eye.

I did have an ironic laugh however, when someone pointed out that when you click through at the end it takes you to this.

Not quite in the same vein somehow, Mattel. There is something to be said for thinking about cross channel/platform communications.

However, at least it’s taking positive action and trying to (finally) break beyond traditional gender stereotypes by inspiring little girls to aim high.

What’s also been hugely encouraging is that male icons have been joining in the pro-feminist conversation too.

Bradley Cooper responded to J-Law’s essay by encouraging women to stick up for themselves and aim to change mind-sets. James Bond’s new film Spectre features a fifty one year old love interest, and Daniel Craig (rightfully) slammed an interviewee recently when she suggested Bond had ‘succumbed to the charms of an older woman’. “I think you mean the charms of a woman his own age”, he replied.

Nice one James.

Could it be then that the tides are starting to turn?

While they’ve attempted to shift perceptions in the past, with the likes of Computer Engineer Barbie – complete with a pink laptop. In reality, there’s probably a long way to go until Barbie is taking over the boardroom, stops accessorising in pink, puts on weight and, is played with by the boys as much as girls. But, if this is just the early days of its evolution then it’s a good start.

We know how challenging – and hugely rewarding – it is to try and drive behaviour change via campaigns. It takes time and the objective to win hearts and minds must be ongoing.
So let’s hope this good work from Mattel doesn’t stop here.