Our top 10 Empowering Women Campaigns

Our top 10 Empowering Women Campaigns

It’s almost that time again. Friday, March 8th is International Women’s Day (IWD). A day when the world celebrates the cultural, political, social, and economic achievements of women. As a focal point in the movement for women’s rights, the day also has underlying themes of anti-sexism, gender equality, and anti-discrimination.  How can your brand create an effective and empowering campaign to celebrate IWD? Here are 10 examples that will give you some inspiration.


""CALVIN KLEIN's latest regional campaign, MY STATEMENT. #MYCALVINS celebrates a group of fearless individuals from Asia that are pushing culture forward and making strong personal statements. The campaign tells the story of ten unique journeys and finding confidence, authenticity and success along the way."

A bold move for the brand in Asia. This latest campaign breaks away from their normal highly stylised look. A campaign which spans accross digital, social, OOH and in store. The campaign launch March 8th and will continue releasing new videos throughout the month. 

2) SK-II: Marriage Market Takeover

SK-II is a Proctor & Gamble skincare brand in China that created a video for its #changedestiny campaign. The video challenges a cultural belief in China that women should be married by the time they are 25. If a woman is not married, she is often labeled a “Sheng Nu” which translates to ”leftover woman.”
The video introduces the audience to a few women who are single, despite being older than 25. It shows the pressure they receive from their parents and from society. However, these women share that they are happy although everyone thinks there is something wrong with them. They are pursuing their careers or don’t feel they have met the right person yet and don’t want to settle.
Instead of succumbing to the pressure to get married, they stand up and say no. At the marriage fair where unmarried women are offered up on posters that list their biographies, these single women offer a different message. They don’t need to be married until they feel it is right. In the end, the parents come around and respect their wishes. This powerful video clearly resonated with the audience as it collected over 2.7 million views on Chinese social media in just three days; 1.5 million on Youku and 1.2 million on Tencent.

2) Always: Like a Girl

Always, a brand that sells feminine hygiene products, identified that it needed a marketing campaign to connect with its target audience of young women. It had been too product-focused.

As a result, it performed some research and found that, during puberty, girls experience a drop in confidence. The brand wanted to bring attention to the issue. While brainstorming with the marketing team, the phrase ‘Like a girl” came up and stuck. They decided to create a video which begins by interviewing various people and asking them what it looks like to run, throw, and fight like a girl. All of the interviewees respond by performing the actions making fun of girls, like they couldn’t do the activities well.

Then, the video asks young girls (pre-puberty) what it looks like to run, throw, and fight like a girl. The girls run hard, throw hard, and fight hard. They have no understanding of the negative connotation of the phrase. Then, the commercial points out that women experience this drop in confidence doing puberty and it encourages them to share themselves doing something like a girl which brings a positive light to the phrase.

The hashtag #likeagirl was used to reference the campaign and it generated global awareness. The video received over 85 million views in over 150 countries. Further, the brand’s equity saw a double-digit increase during the campaign.

3) Barbie: Role Model Barbies

Mattel’s Barbie is a well-known brand that dates back nearly 60 years. Many of today’s women grew up playing with Barbies and saved a container full of them in case they had daughters some day. However, Barbie began to be seen in a negative light as the women empowerment movement gained steam.

Well, Mattel has been working on repositioning Barbie to empower girls and women. An example of this effort can be seen in last year’s release of 15 dolls on IWD. The dolls were made in the likeness of real iconic women such as Chloe Kim, Patty Jenkins, and Amelia Earhart. Each one came with an educational pamphlet to help young girls learn about the person behind the doll.

This new marketing approach has been working, as Mattel saw a 12% jump in the second quarter of 2018 after launching these dolls, which was its third straight quarter of gains.

4) Nike: What Girls are Made Of

In 2017, Nike released an ad to the Russian market for International Women’s Day. In the video, a little girl is on stage in a nice dress and begins to sing a well-known Russian song about what girls are made of.

The original song says girls are made of marmalade, flowers, etc. However, in this film, several of Russia’s accomplished female athletes begin appearing and the girl sings that girls are made of iron and punches and bruises.

In the end, the girl gets ready to kick a soccer ball into the goal and the following messaging appears: “You’re made of what you do. Believe in more.” This video challenges gender stereotypes and inspires women to be more. It does so effectively because it is tailored to the target audience. So far, it has had more than 1.6 million views on YouTube.

5) Smirnoff & Spotify: Smirnoff Equalizer

In 2017, Smirnoff launched its ‘Equalizing Music” campaign, in which it aims to double the number of women who headline music festivals by the year 2020. It has partnered with Live Nation and Global Radio to equalize lineups across Europe.

For IWD in 2018, the brand partnered with Spotify and launched the Smirnoff Equalizer. It is an application programming interface (API) that tracks the listening habits of users and provides them with the percentage of male and female artists that they listen to. It then equalizes the playlist so the mix of men to women is 50/50.

The drive behind this was the fact that, in 2017, the top 10 streamed tracks on Spotify were performed by male artists. This helped to bring more attention to the fact that Spotify’s algorithm favors male artists and that something needs to be done to help ensure women get an equal opportunity for exposure.

6) Lean In Organization: Ban Bossy

The #banbossy campaign was created to point out that women are twice as likely to avoid a leadership position if they may be portrayed as bossy and to fight against the use of the word bossy. The Lean In organization recruited well-known celebrities including Beyonce, Jennifer Garner, and Condoleezza Rice to be featured in a video which points out that labeling matters and women can be the boss without being “bossy.” It asks you to join the movement. The video has garnered over 2.8 million views on YouTube.

7) Sport England: This Girl Can

Sport England founded the “This Girl Can” campaign because it found that there was a gap between men and women when it came to exercise. Unfortunately, although 75% of women wanted to exercise, many weren’t. The brand hoped to inspire women to be more active and overcome the obstacle that was holding them back.
In 2015, Sport England created the “This Girl Can” video in 2015 which showed everyday women working out hard, hoping to inspire them to “sweat like a pig and feel like a fox”. Then, it took it a step further and partnered with Spotify to figure out which women had been listening to work out playlists but had stopped for 30 days or more. Sport England encouraged women who had entered a lull to help them overcome exercise anxiety.
The campaign encouraged over 3.9 million women to engage in exercise!

8.) Proctor and Gamble: We See Equal

Last year, P & G launched the “We See Equal” video on International Women’s Day. It communicates the message that a gender equal world is better for all. Messages include that equations don’t care who solve them, tears don’t care who cry them, science doesn’t care who studies it, households don’t care who heads them, and diapers don’t care who change them, at P & G, we see equal. A video like this supporting the themes of Women’s Day makes a positive impact on viewers and helps to build brand loyalty.

9.) State Street Global Advisors (SSGA): Fearless Girl

In the financial district of New York, you can find the Wall St. bull (a statue of a bull). On the night before IWD in 2017, US fund manager State Street Global Advisors placed a statue of a girl standing fearlessly with her hands on her hips, facing the bull straight on. It didn’t take long for photos of the statue to go viral online. It garnered over 1 billion Twitter impressions within 12 hours, and over 4.6 billion by week 12.

The purpose behind the statue placement was to promote the company’s SHE Fund which only invests in companies that have women in top leadership positions. It did that and more, increasing the daily trading volume on the company’s SHE Fund by 384%in the three days following the statue placement and 170% over the following 20 days.

While the statue was only supposed to be in place for one month, a petition was signed by 40,000 people to keep it there. This campaign won four grand prix awards at Cannes.

Find Your Inspiration for International Women’s Day

Each of these brands took IWD to heart and conveyed relevant and inspiring messages. They empowered and supported women, breaking the status quo in many cases. As a result, they were able to drive positive associations for their businesses. If you would like help building a campaign for your brand that truly resonates with your audience, contact us today!

Catalyst took part in the action this year helping one of the worlds greatest fashion brands celebrate diversity across Asia. Check it out here.