The Problem With International Women's Day Promotions
Brands went all in on marketing for International Women's Day, which in theory, seems like a great thing. All these small and large corporations are coming together to express their support of women's issues, women's rights and, of course, women in general, but it's a little more complicated than that.
Here's a few of the big ones from this year, and where they went wrong.
Thanks, McDonald's. For one day only, I got to shamefully scarf down a Happy Meal in my car while thinking of female empowerment. How did you come up with such a resonating message? It almost implies that the other 364 days of the year are just for the boys.
With 86% of US moms worried about the type of role models their daughters are exposed to, we are committed to shining a light on empowering female role models in an effort to inspire more girls.
Join us by sharing your role models using #MoreRoleModels. #IWD2018 pic.twitter.com/FnEuBsDh23
— Barbie (@Barbie) March 6, 2018
On the surface, this seems like the right message: Let's give these girls some positive role models. But the problem is, Mattel still made these iconic figures in the form of stereotypically perfect Barbie women. Where is Frida's unibrow, for goodness sake?
What Brands Are Doing for International Women’s Day - Portraits of empowerment include the Budweiser brand. Budweiser will be honoring its female employees via a photo series who “represent some of the best in the beer business...” #marketing #iwd18 https://t.co/OFrrt0GhDY pic.twitter.com/I7RLy8ssK0
— Kristine S Austin (@ksaust) March 8, 2018
The issues with Budweiser's International Women's Campaign run pretty deep. The Huffington Post pointed out that as of 2018, the company still employs its notorious "Budweiser Girls," who are not exactly sending messages of female empowerment. In addition, it had a campaign back in 2015 that drew widespread criticism for its message on sexual consent. It seems like if a brand wants to spread its message of female support, it should probably practice what it preaches.
Meet Claudia Sanders 👋
To mark #IWD2018 @kfc is introducing the world to Colonel Sanders’ wife 👇https://t.co/5NNf4KCHFv pic.twitter.com/hurligwamb
— Marketing Week (@MarketingWeekEd) March 8, 2018
In my opinion, the problem with KFC's marketing ties in with its use of Reba McEntire as its new spokesperson, as well. Women are not asking for representation in KFC's branding. I think I speak for most when I say, we're actually okay with the Colonel being a man. And to simply introduce us to the Colonel's wife, Claudia, doesn't make us want to down a bucket of chicken. (Maybe some biscuits, though.)
5. Old Navy
For #IWD2018 Old Navy decorated all the public statues of historical women in NYC (plus Fearless Girl). @OldNavy is led by a woman and its leadership team is 65% female. pic.twitter.com/2U9q30wLGa
— Lindsey Rupp (@lcrupp) March 8, 2018
Don't get me wrong, I love flowers, but Old Navy shouldn't just give a statue of Harriet Tubman a flower lei. It's almost insulting.
6. Johnnie Walker
Top PR Campaigns of the week. Johnnie Walker is rolling out a female version of its whisky – Jane Walker – on International Women’s Day in the U.S. A limited edition run will feature a striding woman on the label rather than the regular top-hatted gent… https://t.co/RldFs6qyiG pic.twitter.com/G8m8UyGWZL
— Purple Flayme Media (@PurpleFlayme) March 12, 2018
Don't even get me started on this campaign. We all know the one thing holding women back from grabbing a bottle of Johnnie Walker is the lack of representation on the bottle. Instead, we just cling to our Skinny Girl Margaritas, and hope that some day we'll feel comfortable going for the harder stuff. Thankfully, Johnnie Walker heard our cries, and gifted us this truly majestic limited edition bottle. Listen up, brands, not every product needs a female-centric logo.
Don't get me wrong, brands, I know you want to show your support for women, but there's a right and a wrong way to do it. We're not really looking for a change in branding—those are your icons, and we're okay with that. Instead, it would be great if you could make commitments to fair wages, and if you could take steps to ensure there are more high-level women executives making strides at your company. That way, you can avoid these International Women's Day marketing fails, because you'll actually be able to ask women what they think of them.
Hannah Abrams is the senior content editor for Promo Marketing. In her free time, she enjoys coming up with excuses to avoid exercise, visiting her hometown in Los Angeles and rallying for Leonardo DiCaprio to win his
first second Academy Award.