Picture: UPSPLASH/Priscilla du Preez
Picture: UPSPLASH/Priscilla du Preez

It seems that, finally, brands are starting to recognise the purchasing power of women. This is  reflected by the trend towards more gender-neutral marketing campaigns, as well as products that are usually targeted at one specific gender now finding their space somewhere in the middle. This year’s International Woman’s Day had brands across the globe pulling out the stops to celebrate women’s place in the world of consumerism.

Clearly change is afoot when fashion doll Barbie starts celebrating the “shero”. Mattel launched the “shero” programme in 2015, in a bid to highlight the possibilities for girls everywhere. This year, in time for International Women’s Day, it launched a new set of dolls featuring acclaimed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, British boxer Nicola Adams and American snowboarding champion Chloe Kim.

Ever heard of Jane Walker?  In the US, for the month of March, Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky replaced its iconic walking man with a walking woman on some of its bottles. The makers of Johnnie Walker, Diageo, announced the brand would be donating US$1 from the sale of these limited-edition bottles to organisations that support women’s causes.

Also challenging the stereotypical ideas around what it means to be a woman, Nike has used Serena Williams as a spokesperson for its International Women’s Day campaign, with a central message communicating that there is no right or wrong way to be a woman. In the campaign, Williams talks about how she has been perceived throughout her tennis career as “oversized, overconfident, too black for my tennis whites and too mean if I don’t smile”, adding that she has never been seen as “the right kind of woman”.

For its part, McDonald’s flipped its iconic “M” arch in honour of women. The M to W campaign took place in the US to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Women’s Day is increasingly being used as a platform to address some of the very real issues challenging women. In tandem with a global push for gender equality, illustrated by initiatives such as the #metoo movement and the fight for equal pay, more and more brands are capitalising on this societal call for change.

The big take-out:

On International Women’s Day this year many iconic global brands showed a change in direction in line with a trend towards advertising that appreciates a more gender-neutral approach, and acknowledges the considerable purchasing power of the female market.