Are brands getting International Women’s Day campaigns right?

Many brands decided to run campaigns to tie in with International Women’s Day. But how did they do?

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If you are a lady, like I am, (though some people would question this) last week you may have been bombarded with emails and social media posts about International Women’s Day.

So, were brands actually doing anything to celebrate how far we’ve come, and address the issues surrounding inequality, or did they just want to jump on the bandwagon in order to flog you a load of old tat?

Let’s find out.

Here’s my personal view on the emails I received.

Not on the High Street

View full email here

The entire email was dedicated to female creators, which was nice. It didn’t lead with a ‘have a discount today because you are/identify as female’ vibe, and did showcase some nice products created by, and for, women.

Extra points for 10% of anything from the ‘Women Supporting Women collection’ going towards The Prince’s Trust ‘Women Supporting Women’ initiative. However, the range is super limited – when I looked there were a mere 17 products. And 10% isn’t exactly mega generous of them, but better than nowt.

Verdict: Not a bad attempt, as the messaging really did focus on the great products created by women. However, the range of products to which the 10% donation applied could have been way bigger.


View full email here

The headline ‘Women do it all. And then some.’ is strong. I like it.

The copy opens with a nice stat about how 83% of Etsy’s sellers are women, and then invites you to find out more about the ‘makers’.

The landing page has quotes from Etsy sellers with a brief bio, and links to their products and shop. No discounts, no hard sell. Simple and well-executed, with a great range of handcrafted products at different price points.

Verdict: I liked this. It didn’t feel pushy and the simple landing page design with clever use of white space ensured you focused on what was important: the women, their stories, and their products.


View full email here

H&M steered away from being promotional, instead highlighting that the majority of its business is made up of female employees, in fact, 7 in 10 ‘leaders’ at H&M are women. The fashion industry is still, on the whole, male-dominated at senior level, so it’s great that is not the case at H&M.

The landing page itself is short and sweet, highlighting brand values around equality, with a short video where you can meet H&M’s inspirational women leaders.

All sounds great, but the ‘we practice what we preach’ message feels a bit hollow given its lack of commitment to improving conditions for the female garment industry workers who make their clothes.

Verdict: I found this a bit ‘look how great we are as a brand’. Also, while it’s nice to focus on the ‘leaders’ perhaps they should have thought more about female employees at all levels.


View full email here

I think this one might have gone over my head. Maybe I’m not as arty-farty as I thought.

The email itself centres on an image with a poem on it, with an abstract background. The poem was written by Greta Bellamacina, who was shortlisted for the Young Poet Laureate of London in 2014, with her partner Robert Montgomery providing the backdrop for her words.

The landing page provides a bit more information on the concept behind the campaign, with a short bio on both the artists. That’s all there is to it.

Verdict: Honestly, I found the messaging a bit confusing. Nice as the sentiment is, I’m not convinced it really encapsulates the spirit of International Women’s Day all that well, and found the whole thing a bit fluffy. It kinda reminded me of the sort of inspirational quotes that get shared on Instagram. Which, by the way, I HATE.


View full email here

First of all, top marks for addressing me by name, and knowing I am a woman. That means the rest of the email content feels a bit more like it’s speaking to me as an individual.

The business has a female co-founder, and the email explains there is still a huge gender gap when it comes to investing. It asks me to become an influencer for change by inviting a female friend or family member to start investing, too, from as little as £1.

Unfortunately, after logging in, I’m sent to a generic ‘refer a friend’ landing page. Boo.

Verdict: I thought the email was pretty good. It was personalised, and made me feel like I could support women to close the huge gap in the gender divide. But the landing page I was redirected to was super lame. It could have provided way more information about Michelle, the co-founder, as well as what Wealthify was doing more widely to promote the benefits of women investing. You can, as I do, invest in ethical stocks and shares, so a showcase of some of the ethical, women-led businesses your money is invested in could have been a nice touch too.


View full email here

Benefit opted to partner with LinkedIn for its International Women’s Day campaign. And I did not like.

The core messaging is ‘Make your LinkedIn profile shine’. The tips and tricks are super brief, and obvious, and the ‘Celebrate Women Today’ link takes you to a generic ‘Shop Gifts’ page with no discount, no contribution to a women’s charity, nada.

Yes, they are a cosmetics brand. They want to flog slap. But I found it pretty patronising that the first tip was to ‘start with a profile photo’, it’s too obvious and puts too much emphasis on someone’s appearance being the most important factor in attracting prospective employers and networking connections.

The landing page is hideous. First and foremost, the banner image is poor quality. I was also under the impression the tips and tricks would be more detailed once I clicked through, perhaps with some advice on networking for women from both brands, but nope.

The aim of this email was to encourage women to get their ass down to either Carnaby Street, or House of Fraser in Glasgow on 8 March for a free makeover and professional headshot to help get more sweet LinkedIn connections by not looking like a total dog in your profile picture.

Few problems with this: One; the email was sent on 8 March. I don’t live in London, nor Glasgow, and there is this thing called HAVING A JOB that doesn’t really allow for last-minute popping out for a few hours to have a makeover and mugshots taken. And I’m not sure if this is something you could book, but I’m assuming not, as while they link to the Carnaby Street location page, they don’t to the one based in Glasgow.

LinkedIn and Benefit are both huge brands, and I feel they could have done a far, far better job of executing this campaign. A massive wump wump sad trombone noise from me.

Verdict: Yes, first appearances do matter. I’d be lying if I said that they didn’t. But sending out a campaign partnering with the biggest professional networking site in the world and then doing something as lame as a makeover and headshot photoshoot in two locations they only tell you about on the actual day – and you can’t even book? I wonder if anyone actually turned up?

The Perfume Shop

Discounts galore in this bad boy email. And ee by gum, is it pink. Because all women like pink, duh.

Other than the pink and the discount, there are two small quotes from ‘inspirational’ members of staff. Neither of the quotes is inspirational. Both of the links point to products, which I assume is what these ladies smell of? Who knows.

There is also a link to a blog post; the ‘Top fragrances that empower women’. While I’m not mad on the intro copy, the descriptions of what the perfumes smell like are alright. But I feel they could have done more with this, with better presentation, and more copy about what the brand actually does to support and empower women, rather than just flogging them perfume.

Verdict: Just entirely underwhelmed with this, to be honest. The focus is absolutely on selling perfume, with a nod to the fact it happens to be International Women’s Day.

Elsewhere on the internet

It’s not just me who has beef with the way some brands used International Women’s Day simply as an excuse to market their products. While there were some good campaigns that stood out amongst those that were overly promotional, or missed the mark completely, they were few and far between.

PR News did a nice rundown of the best and worst campaigns, while people on Twitter were pretty vocal about how they felt about brands using women as a marketing tool.

My personal favourite fail was a Tweet from Police Service Northern Ireland, with this tone-deaf attempt.

What do you think about brands using days of recognition for marketing purposes? Shout us in the comments if you have something to say!

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