International Women's Day: Are these the 6 best women-centric marketing campaigns?

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What are the most iconic female-centric marketing campaigns?

To help celebrate International Women’s Day, we at Harvest Digital gathered together our pick of the greatest and most memorable female-centric marketing campaigns.

Some of these campaigns received backlash or criticism. However they also inspired and achieved massive levels of reach and engagement, as well as resonating with both female and male audiences.

Within the last five years we have seen a shift in the marketing focus of brands. Rather than emphasising a hard-sell, brands are showcasing their heart and soul through story-telling, with each campaign highlighting different brand missions and values. Along with this shift in marketing we have seen some truly fantastic campaigns being produced.

We remember these campaigns for sending impactful and positive messages to thousands of women across the world, while inspiring the younger generations and raising awareness of women’s rights.

To me, that’s enough to make these 6 campaigns worth shouting about:

Sport England #ThisGirlCan

Spurred on by the reality that the fear of judgment from others is the main barrier for women trying to participate in sport. This incredible campaign launched back in 2015 with the aim to inspire and encourage women to participate in sport regularly.

The campaign was supported by a £10M budget and it is fair to say this competitive-led campaign absolutely smashed it. Just one year into this emotive campaign and 2.8million 14-40 year old women say they have participated in more sport as a direct result of #thisgirlcan.

These figures paint a particularly promising picture for the 2017 campaign which has just launched with a focus on encouraging women beyond the original 14-40 year old parameters, encouraging mothers and grandmothers to get into more sport.

Women’s Aid – Look At Me

Women’s Aid is an incredible national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children.

In 2015 they launched an OOH interactive campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence and the role of Women’s Aid.

The process was simple, facial recognition was used to record exactly how many people were looking at the ad. The more people who looked at the woman within the ad, the quicker the bruises and cuts would heal on her face. If people ignored the poster, the image remained the same.

The interactive billboards were a perfect tool to communicate and represent this campaign for everything it stood for “don’t turn a blind eye to domestic violence”, and with it reaching over 320 million people in 20 countries it achieved phenomenal success.

Always #LikeAGirl

The #LikeAGirl social media campaign gained more than 85m global views on YouTube, generated huge global awareness, and changed the way people think about the phrase ‘like a girl’.

This iconic campaign focused on empowering girls during puberty when their confidence is at the lowest it may be for their entire lives. Changing the meaning of a derogatory phrase ‘like a girl’ created a powerful and relevant understanding of confidence that resonated with teenage girls.

While the campaign created strong connections with girls this wasn’t the primary motive. The campaign interviewed both young boys and girls, focusing on the importance of targeting both men and women in the battle to change gender perceptions.

As a result, 76% of people did not see ‘like a girl as a negative phrase after watching the ad, and 2/3 men said they would now think twice before using the phrase as an insult.

UN Women - #AutocompleteTruth

Created by Memac Ogilvy and Mather, the aim of this campaign was to raise awareness of UN Women and show just how much prejudice and discrimination still exists against women.

This campaign highlighted gender discrimination in the most simplest of ways. After all, no one can argue with Google, the auto-complete phrases are a reflection of the most popular search queries.

Just the basic idea of this campaign was simply captivating as it probed you to check the Google autofill results yourself. I remember doing so, the impact of seeing the results for myself made the stats even more shocking.

The campaign sparked a global conversation, achieving 1.2billion impressions, 24 million Twitter mentions with the hashtag #autocompletetruth, and it was discussed on social media in over 100 difference countries. Not a bad result eh?

Dove #RealBeauty

While talking about iconic women-centric campaigns, there is no way we cannot bring up Dove. While the general marketing shift is a fairly recent change, Dove have been rolling out emotive and confidence-led campaigns for decades.

The Real Beauty campaign series aims to tackle the ridiculous media perceptions of beauty that affect women’s confidence of all ages, all over the world.

In 2013, Dove released the Real Beauty Sketches campaign which perfectly explored the gaps between how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves, encouraging women to live a happier and more confident lives.

Two portraits were made, one by a stranger’s observations, and the other by an FBI forensic artist who drew them based on the descriptions the women gave themselves.

The stark differences between the portraits showed the women that they had a distorted self-perception which actually affected their lives in different ways. This incredibly emotive campaign resonated extremely well with the video gaining over 180million views.

Adidas – Unleash Your Creativity

Okay yes, technically Adidas’ brand new campaign may not qualify as ‘iconic’ YET, but we think it is definitely worth a shout out.

This powerful and inspiring campaign focuses on 15 women athletes, with short films bringing their incredible stories to life. The campaign is part of Adidas’ efforts to better support female athletes with new products like women’s football boots, while also reinforcing the brands focus to engage and inspire athletes through their creativity and imagination.

The Unleash Your Creativity campaign only launched last month, but we expect to see huge results from this inspirational campaign.

Do you think we've covered the best women-centric campaigns? Did we miss any out? Sound off in the comments below or let us know @HarvestDigital.

Megan Wrafter

Megan Wrafter is social and content executive at Harvest Digital.

All by Megan