YOUR AUDIENCE SEES RIGHT THROUGH YOU

Today, I’m talking about International Women’s Day (IWD). I might sound a little late to the party but that was largely because I tend to avoid social media on certain ‘days’. Such as pancake day - I don’t need to be shamed for my lack of pancake flipping skills. St Patrick’s Day - no, I don’t feel lucky. Black Friday - oh, please tell me more about your suspiciously low prices, multi-million pound business.

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Most recently, my cause for hiding was IWD. Not because I don’t love it, I do, and I believe it’s absolutely necessary. In fact, I’ll take any excuse to celebrate women - they’re amazing. What I don’t love is empty gestures. And unfortunately, too many brands jump on a bandwagon on days like IWD. 


You know the ones I mean, the ones who want to celebrate strong women and yet have no females in the senior leadership teams, have a gender pay gap and/or fail to offer sufficient maternity or paternity leave packages, to name but a few sticking points. 


To be honest, I can’t blame them for it either. It’s likely seen as a quick win. After all, what account manager can’t bash out a quick line about thanking women for all their hard work and whack it on social media? Accompany it with a photo of a smiling (likely underpaid) female employee, sit back and watch the likes stack up. Oh, empowerment, don’t forget to mention empowerment. And for too long, we let them get away with it.

After all, what account manager can’t bash out a quick line about thanking women for all their hard work and whack it on social media?

Thankfully, audiences are wising up. They’ve had enough of brands paying lip service without doing any of the work. It’s all well and good offering a discount on jeans to celebrate IWD, but it means nothing if you aren’t paying your (you can safely assume mostly female) garment workers. Talk about supporting women, but don’t then refuse flexible working to help parents juggle the school run. 


This year’s theme was #choosetochallenge and it highlighted sexism, misogyny and of course, the sad fact that many women of colour don’t feel able to challenge. There’s still so much work to do. And adorning your packaging in pink isn’t going to fix that. 


In fact, I’d encourage you to take a leaf out of Boden’s book - ever a good copywriter’s star pupil - and talk about the work you do. Their IWD email didn’t even mention a single product, or the fact that they donate money through sales to The Prince’s Trust, just two wonderfully simple lines about their work with HERproject. Beautiful. Here’s to more of that in the future.

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