International Women’s Day (IWD) falls on the 8th of March each year and is celebrated in over one hundred countries, spotlighting the achievements and trials and tribulations faced by women.
Dating all the way back to 1911, it was a huge turning point in the women’s movement that demanded a right to vote, work and hold public office. Since then, IWD has become a notable day of celebration for all marginalised genders and encourages the continuing fight for equality.
Every year, like clockwork, companies and brands will flock to their socials to earnestly post about women, and every year it really is a mixed bag; you never know what you’re going to get. International Women’s Day really can bring out the good, the bad, and the downright ugly in brands, gift-wrapped with an Emmeline Pankhurst quote.
We’ve taken a look at some of the best marketing campaigns and the ones we’d rather forget (London Dungeon, we’re looking at you). The ones that get it, get it, and the ones that don’t, well, our thoughts are with their PR teams.
In no particular order, here’s our official hit-and-miss list for International Women’s Day:
'Highlight the Remarkable'
Famed for their highlighters, Stabilo chose to literally highlight remarkable women in their International Women’s Day campaign.
In times when women working in scientific and mathematical fields were far and few, Stabilo’s campaign featured a series of black and white photographs and highlighted the women who have previously gone unnoticed and were combined with copy that detailed their accomplishments.
Taking inspiration from the phrase, “Behind every great man is a great woman”, the campaign opted to put the women in the background on a pedestal. Recording a staggering 15 million impressions on Twitter, Stabilo was mentioned 97.4% more than it had been before the campaign.
MISS: Burger King
'Women belong in the kitchen'
We’d love to be a fly on the wall in the meeting room when Burger King decided the best way to celebrate International Women’s Day would be to tweet, “Women belong in the kitchen”.
Although their intentions were in the right place, continuing the 1950s narrative of rigid gender roles, in hindsight, wasn’t the best idea they’ve ever had.
After the inevitable fallout, the franchise did follow up their tweet with “If they want to, of course” - and proceeded to promote their scholarship scheme encouraging women to join the restaurant industry and challenge the current gender ratio. But, the damage had been done. They did delete their original tweet, but overall, they truly set the bar high for offensive IWD campaigns.
HIT: Pay Gap App
Gender Pay Gap Bot
Introducing: your friendly neighbourhood gender pay bot. A comrade to women and a nemesis to businesses everywhere, the gender pay gap bot was designed to call out companies and their whitewashing of gender equality in the workplace.
Designed by Manchester-based copywriter Francesca Lawson, the bot became instantly viral and amassed over 228,000 Twitter followers (and counting). Whenever a company listed on the Government’s gender pay gap service tweets International Women’s Day keyphrases, the bot automatically responds with factual data on how fairly they pay employees.
On average, women are paid less than men at 77% of UK-based companies, and unsurprisingly, many brands swiftly deleted their celebratory tweets to avoid any further criticism. Overall it was an extremely effective viral campaign and hopefully encourages employers to pay men and women equally, or at least not post about IWD unless they’re willing to do so.
MISS: London Dungeon
'Jackie the Ripper'
We’re not even sure where to start with this one, honestly. But for one day only, the infamous ‘Jack the Ripper’ was renamed ‘Jackie the Ripper’. A completely sensible and extremely normal idea.
HIT: CPB London
CPB London used International Women’s Day as a chance to highlight gender bias. With the tagline ‘Imagine a World’, the campaign consisted of multiple billboards and impactful posters asking questions to the public such as; ‘Imagine a CEO’, ‘Imagine a feminist, ‘Imagine a nurse’ and ‘Imagine someone in a board meeting’.
The boldness of the posters made the public stop and evaluate why they envisioned particular genders and stereotypes. Additionally, CPB also created a colouring book for kids and parents to ensure that gender bias is not passed on to future generations. Gaining a staggering 4.7M+ impressions and 250k+ engagements on social media, it became a huge talking point.
The Equality Filter
In 2022, AirBrush celebrated International Women’s Day with *drumroll*... ‘The Equality Filter’. With the theme #BreaktheBias, the app released special features such as the LadyBoss Makeup edit, colourful filters and stickers, all in the name of gender equality. An app that promotes airbrushing ‘flaws’ and then promoting International Women’s Day? It’s a big miss from us.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, streaming service Spotify vowed to turn up the volume on female creators. On average, only one in five artists featured on the charts is a woman, so to amplify the voices of creators, Spotify debuted the EQUAL hub. Designed to highlight the work of creators, female-identifying artists and podcasters, EQUAL hub places the spotlight on existing and emerging creatives.
The hub instantly struck a chord with listeners worldwide. In the first month alone, fans added EQUAL artists to more than 600 playlists 1,500 times and gained 29 million streams!
Overall, the key takeaway from International Women’s Day is that not every brand needs to or should post about it. Sometimes silence can be better than controversy *cough cough Burger King*. Being authentic and original is the best way to navigate it!
Think we’ve missed something out? Let us know the best or worst International Women’s Day campaigns that you’ve seen! Slide into our DMs on socials and share your thoughts.
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