International Women’s Day – Our favourite campaigns/brands

Posted: 08/03/2023

Author: Fishtank

As a female-dominated integrated marketing agency, it’s fair to say we all have our regular discussions (*rants) on what it’s really like to be a woman and all the inconveniences it brings. But rather than hold a grudge and offload a full list of “icks” and negative energy – yesterday (so very last moment, we know – we wanted to take 5 to think about each of our favourite campaigns or brands that put a middle fin up to female stereotypes and beauty standards and instead, to make us feel empowered and strong…

Jacy: Lucy & Yak 

For me personally, a brand that screams woman empowerment has to be Lucy & Yak. It was one of the first brands I recognised that not only advertised themselves as completely size inclusive but also spoke freely on the challenges of being a woman and how as a collective, we can empower each other to feel amazing.

What started out as one woman selling hand-made pouches from pre-loved clothes in her van, Yak, has now become a globally renowned enterprise that not only designs unique and loveable dungarees and other clothing and accessories but also is on a sustainable and positive mission to empower at every level, every day.

With recent campaigns such as ‘Fighting for our rights with a needle and thread‘ and the ‘Positive change hub‘ the brand has absorbed itself in an empowering reality that has become a crucial personality trait of their identity which they successfully communicate across all brand messaging, content and ads.

Being a customer, visitor or fan of Lucy & Yak is enough to feel a part of something powerful, a community of strong independent people who are willing to be controversial and make a difference. Not to mention their ‘Fior Di Loto‘ foundation that believes in supporting and empowering women and the local community through every stage of their lives as they face challenges – so not only do they help to provide girls with an education in their formative years but they also offer community, financial support, and food hampers to widowed women and men who receive limited state pensions and who often have no family to help.

If that isn’t empowerment at its finest then I don’t know what it is. The brand’s ability to empower men, women and others of all shapes, sizes, and genders whilst also making an ethical difference to the world, is what makes it so easy to be an ambassador of such an impactful brand and stand with them on their mission to empower!

Ola: yourKaya, Pelvifly & LELO 

We’re all still so prudish about the most natural things in the world – and it’s my personal mission to break through those taboos and bring down those walls that still keep the patriarchy up and running, making women feel bad about themselves and their bodies.  

yourKaya is a great period subscription company trying to make periods fun and easy. Their branding, their tone of voice and the all-natural product offering appeal to women of all ages – and their drive to educate women, to aid in self-awareness and to popularise helpful advice is simply amazing. (another bonus is they add sweets to every shipment of period care products to make the period experience nicer and easier).

We don’t talk enough about our intimate health and what it entails – that’s why companies such as yourKaya and Pelvifly are so important. Pelvifly promotes and encourages safe and effective pelvic floor training using their innovative device and mobile application. If you’re in your 20s, you might not be thinking about it yet, and it definitely doesn’t get mentioned enough by medical professionals, but pelvic floor muscles are KEY for us women and we know next to nothing about them. Kudos to Pelvifly for creating a device that makes it easy to learn about your body and a framework that makes it fun. Health is not only calorie and macro counting in MyFitnessPal. It’s also listening to your body and working with it – not against it – to make life easier and more pleasurable for your future self.   

Now, while we’re at ‘pleasurable’’… I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t mention LELO (and other female-focused sex toys brands) that finally empower women to take matters into their own hands and be the masters of their own pleasure. Their products are beautiful and look like luxurious, high-tech beauty gadgets, breaking down the visual stigma usually associated with sex toys. LELO’s marketing campaigns bring self-love to the forefront, promoting female empowerment every step of the way. Check out their last collab campaign.

Danielle: Loose Women’s ‘Body Stories’ campaign. 

I’m a huge fan of WFH days as I get to work alongside my mum with a nice cup of coffee on the side and Loose Women playing in the background – it’s no surprise one of the campaigns that springs to mind for me is Loose Women’s ‘Body Stories’ campaign. 

If you haven’t seen the campaign before, back in 2017 Loose Women launched the award-winning body confidence campaign, with the tagline: ‘You can look but you can’t retouch’ (you know when you just see a tagline and think damn it I wish I’d have thought of that…).

The campaign was aimed at celebrating body diversity and highlighting the importance of representation by the Loose Women stripping down and baring all for a photo shoot in which they share both before and after the use of body tuning apps – exploring how we can make a change to ensure there is more transparency when posting edited images on social media. 

Now, we all know I’m a huge fan of social media, (otherwise, I’d be out of a job), however, that doesn’t mean I’m not aware of the toxicity that sometimes lies behind it and how it continues to affect our generation significantly, and I think campaigns like this remind us that we all have our own “Body Stories” and although we’re all different, and we all have different goals in terms of aesthetics, truthfully there is much more to life and having women from the media screaming this from the rooftops is so refreshing! 

“The findings also revealed over half (57%) say they have no body confidence but more than a fifth (23%) would feel better about themselves if they saw people they identify with in the media.”

Katie: #LikeAGirl

As a feminist, it is important for me to support brands that make an impact on women’s rights. From women-owned small start-ups that are overflowing with creative potential to large well-known brands establishing themselves as allies with the feminist cause, it is fantastic to see the progress that women fought for being achieved by so many strong and inspirational women.

As a woman working in a creative business, it is always so exciting to see marketing campaigns that resonate with and work to fight against the real struggles that women still face today including the gender pay gap, self-esteem & body confidence, and more…

My favourite women-empowering campaign would have to be the #LikeAGirl campaign by the women’s hygiene products brand Always. Tackling the ages-old sexist insult “like a girl”, Always launched a campaign to make sure that girls everywhere keep their confidence by tackling the societal limitations that stand in their way through a series of TV adverts and digital campaigns that utilised powerful imagery breaking down the limits of what a girl should or shouldn’t be. 

As a result, 44 new “Girl Power” emojis were made available on mobile and social media platforms. Within the first three months of the campaign, #LikeAGirl received more than 4.4 billion media impressions on social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. In December 2014, even before the campaign aired as a 2015 Super Bowl commercial, a P&G study showed an estimated 70% of women and 60% of men claimed the #LikeAGirl video changed their perception of the phrase “like a girl.”

Great storytelling is crucial in how you reach your audience most effectively. The best-performing marketing campaigns promoting a brand’s service/product story make it all about their customers – so what better way to reach your female audience than to support them?

Chloe: The Autocomplete Truth

The fight for women’s rights has been important for decades, and although things have improved over time, there’s still a long battle ahead to achieve full gender equality. When I think about International Women’s Day, I think about all the women who have fought in the past, who are fighting now, and will fight in the future, for our rights. One campaign that always springs to mind for this issue is The Autocomplete Truth, developed by UN Women.

This campaign consists of a series of ads, developed for UN Women by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, that use genuine Google searches to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women. Based on searches from the 9th March, 2013, the ads expose negative sentiments ranging from stereotyping as well as outright denial of women’s rights.

In the Youtube video that UN Women put together for this idea, the little wins that women have had over the years are highlighted, as are the remaining challenges women face in their fight for equality. Showing events dating all the way back to 1869, the video really captures how long this fight has been for women, and how far we’ve come thanks to the bravery, power, and immense strength of past female generations. 

International Women’s Day, for me, is a day to say thank you to all the brave, bold, and beautiful women that have stood proud and strong in the face of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, religious discrimination, and harsh societal standards.

Nim: CBP London

Imagine… A world where gender makes no difference – CBP 2022

I like this campaign because, firstly, it follows Swiss-style poster design values. And secondly, it makes a statement about gender stereotypes that we all carry. Values such as emotions, power, money and parenthood are expressed in a few words on a minimalist poster, but they make an embellished point. It targets biases in the workplace by making the audience imagine people who hold positions such as nurses or CEOs and poses the question as to whether we imagined a person in that role to be a man or a woman.

Helen James MD, of CPB London, said: “For all the progress made, it’s shocking to see how deeply entrenched views can still be about women and men’s roles. When these are views held by our children – our future – that tells us we have so much work yet to do to create a world where your gender makes no difference to what you can achieve.”


Georgia: This Girl Can

Thinking about those stand-out campaigns that make us stop in our tracks and feel something, This Girl Can for Sport England immediately came to mind for International Women’s day. Although initially launched in 2015, the campaign still feels relevant and is still working to do great things, it packs a punch and frankly, I just remember feeling good watching it!

I was hooked from the first few beats of the campaign video as Missy Elliot’s ‘Get ur freak on’ began to play, setting the tone to feel strong. I love how it uses a simple concept to push the boundaries, challenge the ‘stay pretty’ stereotype and remove shame which I know myself and other women feel when exercising. A rare but wonderfully empowering sight to see women of all shapes, sizes and ages wearing what they wanted, moving how they wanted and being happy exercising. Impactful messaging like ‘I jiggle therefore I am’ and ‘sweating like a pig’ further break the taboo and embrace it’s a natural thing for our bodies. I think what made this so powerful, is it felt so personal, I could relate to the women in the campaign.

For International Women’s Day I’m reminded it’s the little things that make a real difference, the things that should be given and to feel, act, and be how you want to without judgement.

Georgina: Miley Cyrus – Flowers 

It won’t come as a surprise to the team who have to endure my singing in the office every day that this one is music related… BUT something that instantly comes to mind when speaking of women empowerment for me at the minute is Miley Cyrus’ new song ‘Flowers’. It is widely speculated by fans that she wrote the song as a powerful ‘come back’ message following her break up with ex-husband Liam Hemsworth after several cheating scandals on Liam’s part. The song can be interpreted as a response to Bruno Mars’ ‘When I Was Your Man’ which Liam played at their wedding and was claimed as ‘their song’ together. Miley’s ‘Flowers’ switches around the existing lyrics to put a positive spin on the message it portrays by expressing that we can do everything for ourselves without needing anyone else to do it for us. 

There are several other very clever pointers to associate the song with Miley and Liam’s past relationship such as the timely release of the song being on ex Liam’s birthday, the lyrical references to the fire that burnt down their home that they lived in together in Malibu, the house that is featured in the music video which is where ex Liam used to take people to cheat on Miley with, as well as the suit Miley wears which is the suit ex Liam wore at a premiere where he told her that she ‘needed to behave for once’.

The self-love anthem oozes all of the positive messages of self-empowerment, strong independent women coming together to support one another, and loving yourself above anything else! I think it is so important for us women to be comfortable with who we are, what we choose to do, and that we absolutely should not change for anyone else. 

The key lyrics that resonate with me are ‘I can love me better than you can’ and it reminds me to never settle for anything less and to never rely or depend on anyone else for your own happiness. I may want a man, but I don’t need a man! 

‘Flowers’ has been a big success in the charts and has connected with Miley’s fans in a positive way through music and effective storytelling. Although the song makes such a strong empowering statement that resonates with her audience, it is also such a feel-good song for everyone and anyone that wants to listen and certainly when I’m working away it is always a crowd pleaser to put on to lift us up in the office and keep us motivated to get through the business of the days. We can face every day with an ‘I’ve got this’ attitude.

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