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Opinion

The Importance of Intersectionality in Marketing Campaigns

Following international women’s day and as we continue to recognise women’s history month throughout March, it’s important to look at the permanent changes that brands can make when planning their marketing campaigns as well as mistakes that can be easily avoided.

Although many brands are constantly striving to improve their marketing campaigns by ensuring they are diverse and inclusive, especially on International Women’s Day, it is important to realise that despite the fact that we are doing better as a society, there is still room for improvement. It is still necessary to shed light on the inequalities that women face. As we reported last week, despite the influencer marketing industry being dominated by women, there is still a gender pay gap, and women often still feel as though they aren’t taken as seriously as their male counterparts. In regards to current circumstances, global data released by UN Women suggests that the pandemic could put gender equality back by 25 years.

Although many brands, agencies, and creators used International Women’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate the excellent women within the industry, we still saw some examples of brands that didn’t quite meet the mark. Last Monday, on International Women’s Day, Burger King put out a tweet that read, ‘Women belong in the kitchen’. The initial tweet was followed up with a thread of tweets that explained how despite the common usage of this phrase, restaurant kitchens are still dominated by men, and that Burger King would be starting a scholarship programme aimed at aspiring female chefs. The initial tweet was used as clickbait to draw attention to a story that aimed to empower women.

Social media users, especially females, were upset to discover that Burger King had used an outdated joke built on sexism to promote their project aimed at supporting women. Burger King has since apologised, stating that its aim was to draw attention to the fact that just 20% of UK chefs are women – promising to do better in the future. Among the mistakes, it is equally as important to draw attention to the brands and creators who put equality and intersectionality at the forefront of their campaigns, providing helpful examples for those who aim to improve their approach. 

Unilever remove the word ‘normal’ from beauty products

With the goal of striving towards inclusivity, on International Women’s Day on the 9th March 2021, UK company Unilever, owner of brands such as Dove, Simple and Sure, announced that they will no longer be including the word ‘normal’ from beauty product descriptions. A study commissioned by Unilever presented that seven in ten people agree that using the word ‘normal’ on product packaging and advertising has a negative impact. For younger people – those aged 18-35 – this rises to eight in ten.

As well as the removal of the word ‘normal’ from over 200 of its beauty products, Unilever is also set to ban excessive airbrushing of models in their campaigns, specifically in relation to body shape, size proportion, and skin colour. These changes that Unilever is putting in place aim to increase the representation of marginalised groups and break down stereotypes when it comes to beauty. 

Inclusivity in period care campaigns

In 2020, period care company Callaly launched a campaign aimed at normalising language surrounding the true diversity of people with periods. The ‘Whole Bloody Truth’ campaign was put in place by Callaly to encourage change in the stories told by the period product industry, allowing users to share their honest experiences in regards to periods, which are often glossed over in the media. 

Callaly uses its Instagram account to share real experience, putting a heavy focus on the use of inclusive terms, such as ‘period care’ instead of ‘femcare’, and ‘people with periods’ instead of women. The account features images showing the reality of periods, validating the experiences of people who have periods, which are often disregarded in the period care industry dominated by cis-gendered men. 

TALA represents ‘real’ women

TALA is a sustainable athleisure brand founded by social media influencer come businesswoman, Grace Beverley. Since its launch in April 2019, one of the brand’s core beliefs is that activewear is for everyone, ensuring that all consumers feel represented by the brand’s campaigns. We often see how activewear brands feature typically athletic models in their marketing campaigns, under-representing those who are just beginning to embark on their fitness journey – or are just interested in the style of clothing. 

Whenever TALA releases a new collection or shares Instagram posts of consumers wearing TALA clothing, the brand is intersectional in its approach. The brand’s campaigns have always, and continue to include models diverse in size, age, race, class, as well as representing those who are not able-bodied, emphasising how everyone can feel amazing in TALA clothing.  

These brands all represent examples of excellent campaigns with inclusion and intersectionality at the forefront. We can hope to look forward to a future where more brands and creators follow in the footsteps of these companies, ensuring that everyone feels represented by their campaigns. 

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