International Women’s Day is a celebration of the cultural, political, and social achievements of women around the world. It’s also a great way to raise awareness of the inequalities women face today, and to continue working towards gender equality.
For global brands, Women’s Day is an opportunity to show solidarity in calling for better conditions for women, and to build a greater commitment to gender equality amongst customers, fans, and society in general.
From supporting community organizations to engaging customers on social media, global brands are getting behind International Women’s Day in new and innovative ways.
In this article, we’ll showcase how top brands are supporting Women’s Day and doing their part to advance gender equality.
First, let’s take a closer look at why global brands take a stand on this issue.
Why should brands take a stand for Women’s Day?
Global brands get involved with International Women’s Day for a few reasons.
The first and most obvious reason is that Women’s Day deserves support from everyone with an interest in improving living and working conditions for women around the world. That includes brands and businesses.
It’s an unfortunate fact that many women today face major hurdles when it comes to equal rights and opportunities. Whether it’s pay parity, access to education, or even basic rights like safety and security from harassment, we still have a long way to go.
Responding to these issues requires bold action on behalf of communities, businesses, and governments around the world. International Women’s Day is an excellent opportunity to call attention to these matters.
However, for brands and businesses, supporting Women’s Day isn’t simply a question of doing what’s right. There’s a commercial angle too.
When brands lend their support to social and political causes, consumers respond. In fact, studies have shown the majority of consumers want companies to weigh in on the issues of the day, rewarding businesses for thinking beyond the bottom line.
As we can see in the following summary of social media discussion around International Women’s Day over the past year, there are plenty of users around the world paying close attention to the issue of gender equality.
A summary of topics discussed around International Women’s Day. Source: Linkfluence Search
Aligning your brand with causes such as gender equality is a great way to build a better world for your fans and customers, all while boosting brand equity and product visibility.
That’s why there’s such a long list of sponsors for International Women’s Day 2019, and why so many global brands are lending their support to the event. Communities around the world - especially women - expect their favorite brands to get behind the movement.
A demographic breakdown of International Women’s Day posts. Source: Linkfluence Search
Now, let’s take a closer look at the ways brands are getting on board with Women’s Day.
How top brands are supporting Women’s Day
2019 is shaping up to be no different. From footwear to soda, a range of top brands are looking for ways to recognize women and celebrate their products at the same time.
Let’s start with a look at footwear outfit Keds.
As part of its spring 2019 advertising campaign, Keds is redefining notions of modern femininity, pushing customers to rethink what it means to be a “lady”.
The Keds 2019 International Women’s Day campaign. Source: Footwear News
In addition to hosting events to discuss women’s empowerment in the modern age, Keds has also unveiled a playful advertisement pushing the brand’s message of female strength and inclusiveness.
This campaign illustrates the power of nostalgia, tying the long history of the Keds brand to modern notions of female identity. By highlighting its heritage Champion sneaker line alongside provocative messages, the brand is making its audience think.
Keds shows that Women’s Day campaigns don’t have to be somber and focused on the negatives, either. The Keds campaign is a celebration of the brand’s long history, as well as a prompt for fans and customers to reconsider modern notions of femininity.
Next up, let’s take a look at Calvin Klein’s Women’s Day campaign.
In recognition of Women’s Day 2019, Calvin Klein is rolling out an advertising campaign tailored for the Asian market, focusing on empowerment and challenging traditional gender norms.
This campaign examines conceptions of womanhood within Asian cultures and is centered around women making bold personal statements about their gender identity and the obstacles they face within their communities.
Calvin Klein’s 2019 Women’s Day campaign. Source: Jing Daily
This advertising campaign enlists influencers and celebrities from throughout Asia, including transgender Indian model Anjali Lama, Chinese model Bonnie Chen, Japanese filmmaker Shiori Ito, and Singaporean actress Victoria Loke.
For the campaign, each of these individuals performs a monologue on the themes of confidence and courage and the importance of authenticity and self-discovery in the face of pressure and obstacles from wider society.
This campaign also highlights the potential for localized marketing, helping to deliver a message tailored to a specific region.
It’s worth noting that challenging gender norms in the Asian cultural system is not easy. While the entire Western world has experienced the disruptive force of the #MeToo movement, the spirit of #MeToo is spreading in a very delicate and subtle way in Asia. Calvin Klein’s latest regional campaign is a brave shot.
The brand’s use of well-chosen influencers also helps make its messages more real and relatable.
To show some other novel uses of social media, let’s take a look at SodaStream.
As part of its celebration for 2019 International Women’s Day, home soda kit company SodaStream is offering a unique “She” branded soda bottle.
SodaStream’s “She” bottle. Source: Supermarket News
Each one of these bottles comes in unique packaging telling the stories of women who have changed the world for the better. What’s more, SodaStream is directing all profits from the campaign to organizations and programs empowering women around the globe.
SodaStream is also putting social media to use in a novel way with this campaign, sourcing these inspirational stories directly from Instagram users. For each of these Instagram posts, SodaStream has also pledged to donate an additional dollar to women’s organizations.
This campaign shows how a major brand can drive wide community engagement with its products, boosting sales and visibility while contributing to a worthy goal. It also highlights the potential for community engagement via platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
And now, one last example of a brand supporting great grassroots organizations: Credo.
As part of its support for International Women’s Day 2019, clean beauty retailer Credo has pledged to donate 1% of all sales to nonprofit organization Lipstick Angels, which provides natural makeup and skincare to hospital patients in the US.
Clean beauty retailer Credo. Source: Credo
This example shows the value of brands getting involved with a specific cause at a local level. Instead of contributing to a broader cause, Credo has selected a niche non-profit organization to help out.
Even better, there is a clear and logical link between Credo’s profile as a clean beauty retailer and the mission of Lipstick Angels. This helps the campaign to be a lot more memorable.
Every one of these examples shows the importance of carefully considering which organizations or associations a brand may wish to support. When chosen well, this kind of philanthropy looks natural, generous, and on-brand.
Supporting a cause like Women’s Day without the right context, however, can create real risks for brands and businesses.
Know the context before you get involved
When it comes to throwing your support behind International Women’s Day, enthusiasm and good intentions are important.
What’s even more important, though, is to put in the time to understand the cause in depth, and to be aware of the nuance around the issue. Failing to do so can lead to accusations of brands buddying up to social causes just to boost profits.
Without developing a strategy based on in-depth analysis, brands risk making embarrassing marketing missteps.
For a great example of this, look no further than KFC’s ‘buckets for the cure’ promotion, which aimed to boost breast cancer awareness through selling chicken.
This promotion attracted a lot of online criticism from observers drawing a line between the consumption of less healthy foods and the higher incidence of breast cancer.
So in the case of International Women’s Day, brands need to develop a deep understanding of the environment in which gender equality discussions are taking place.
Social listening also allows brands to track your campaign performance, letting you know exactly how successful your support for Women’s Day has been.
Take a stand for International Women’s Day
From SodaStream’s tailored social media engagement to Calvin Klein’s provocative campaign for the Asian market, there are a range of different ways brands can lend their support to International Women’s Day.
These examples illustrate how great it can be when brands engage thoughtfully with social causes. When businesses take the time to understand the depth and nuance of an issue such as women’s empowerment, good things can happen.
If you’re looking for a way to get behind Women’s Day 2019, take a look at the great resources and tips available on their website.
While you’re at it, be sure to check out our article looking at how to engage with Chinese consumers for International Women’s Day.
Want to know what customers around the world are saying about important social events? Try social listening: