We are now in the fourth wave of feminism, and many companies are stepping up their game by incorporating women empowerment into their marketing plans. A glance at social media might show you an advertisement highlighting some aspect of feminism while still managing to market a particular brand.
However, some of these companies are accused of only using the feminism movement for profit, and, indeed, many marketing campaigns can easily backfire if people perceive any inauthenticity. In contrast, other companies are afraid of including feminism in their campaigns for fear of alienating men or due to the negative stereotypes associated with the feminist movement. In this age of social media activism, running a successful marketing campaign centered on feminism can be difficult; nonetheless, it is doable.
Afraid Of Feminism?
In the UK, only around nine percent of women identify as feminists. Barry X. Kuhle Ph.D. says, “To paraphrase New Jersey philosopher J. B. Jovi, they give feminism a bad name. In so doing, they have discouraged women and men who support sexual equality from self-identifying as feminists.” Many people have negative connotations about the movement, perceiving feminism as associated with aggression, self-righteousness, and misplaced hatred on men.
Some subsets of the population have gone so far as to oppose the current form of feminism, while in many other societies, traditional patriarchal values still trump over any feminist notions. Some companies see all of these as potential threats, stopping them from even trying to include feminist agendas into their branding.
Another potential cause for the reluctance of companies to promote female empowerment is gender inequality in the marketing profession. Only 28.3 percent of the worldwide marketing workforce is female, while males receive higher salaries and are perceived as more competent than females.
Carol A. Lambert, MSW, says, “When we live in a culture where genders are not treated equally, women are at risk of being over-powered and mistreated in the workplace and in their intimate relationships.”
Only a tenth of executive directors in the UK are women. Given that the marketing industry is male-dominated, it comes as no surprise that many companies shy away from topics like women empowerment for their marketing campaigns.
Is It Authentic?
Another common problem when it comes to marketing feminism is that many companies are accused of riding popular feminist movements such as the #MeToo movement simply to gain more followers, without sincere regard for feminism itself.
These campaigns are usually poorly executed ones that promote brands unlikely to be related to women empowerment themselves. People can see through the veneer, and brand perception can suffer tremendously once the public concludes that a brand is merely milking the feminism movement for money.
Tips For Authentic Marketing
The heart of the matter is this: any marketing campaign will only be as authentic as the motives of the people behind it. If a company does not truly believe in the messages that it promotes, then its marketing campaigns will eventually be exposed as a fake.
To be able to launch campaigns for feminism, the company must support corporate culture and a vision that seeks gender equality and empowerment. It must not favor any particular gender, and it must offer equal opportunities for both sexes. In short, campaigns that empower women can only come from companies that empower women.
In addition, consistency is the key to launching any authentic marketing strategy. Make sure that all communication avenues highlight feminism and they portray a single cohesive message, whether it be that girls are equally capable as boys in STEM fields or that women can be as tough and assertive as men.
Finally, make sure that there is persistence. Do not use feminism as a one-time campaign theme. Make sure that the audience understands that feminism is a core part of the company branding and that it is there to stay for as long as the company exists.
If a company suddenly abandons its feminist agenda, people will only perceive the campaign as fake and predatory. Note that companies that were established with women empowerment in mind from the very beginning have a distinct advantage in this area.
Given that feminism is an often misunderstood concept, it is always admirable to see companies genuinely promoting it towards the general audience. We all still have so much to do to achieve gender equality, and companies can play a significant role in this noble work. Kristy E. Bortnik, Ph.D. wrote, “Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.”