Times are a-changin’ and keeping up is hard, but brand growth is essential to staying relevant.
Times are a-changin’ and keeping up is hard, but brand growth is essential to staying relevant. That said, sensitivities are at an all-time high, and while it’s important to evolve with the times, we don’t all have the luxury (or chutzpah) to show that we’re “woke” with a controversial Colin Kaepernick ad. There’s the money issue, concerns about taking a side, and a heck of a lot of red tape that might be standing between your brand and a big statement.
Instead, companies are listening to what their consumers want, and they’re responding to calls for progression, authenticity and inclusivity with small actions that have a big message. From incorporating more realistic, diverse models in ads to broaching topics that should no longer be considered taboo, here’s how some stand-out companies have shown their growth without risking it all.
Making Subtle Changes on Social
Brands are booking it to get on the body positivity bandwagon. But instead of using imperfections as a gimmick to sell products (a la “love yourself; your flaws are beautiful”), clothing company Outdoor Voices shared an Instagram photo of their running shorts on a model whose thigh cellulite is front and center. Making no mention of the cellulite, Outdoor Voices garnered nearly 15K likes for “real and honest marketing,” proving that sometimes, saying nothing can actually speak volumes.
We all know and love KFC, but as their marketing and menu have evolved, one thing has stayed the same: their mascot. Over the years, a long list of celebs have donned the Colonel Sanders suit, but the chicken chain just handed it over to their first-ever female Colonel, Reba McEntire. Even though she kept the mustache for good measure, her presence alone paves the way for more female representation in the boys’ club of branding. Currently, male characters outnumber female characters two-to-one, but female mascots are more likely to be presented as gender stereotypes than their male counterparts. Newsflash: great female mascots don’t have to be portrayed as ditzy, stupid or hypersexual. Just ask Wendy.
We’re more likely to see diversity in advertising now than we were ten years ago, but inclusivity has a long way to go. As a part of Aerie’s #AerieREAL campaign, the lingerie retailer cast 57 women with disabilities and illnesses to model bras, fighting back against outdated beauty standards and showing the world that all women—including those with insulin pumps and colostomy bags—deserve to be seen. By recognizing the many women in the world who feel that brands don’t “get” them, Aerie just silently shouted out a big “we see you, girl.”
Keeping it Real
Tired of seeing women’s health issues being falsely portrayed in ads, feminine care brand Playtex set out to make periods less taboo (which, let’s be honest, it’s 2018 and they shouldn’t be). They created a parody commercial for fictional tampons called ‘Xtra’ (millennial speak for “you’re being dramatic”), and poked fun at other brands’ overt—and laughable—attempts at empowering female messaging (i.e. “Bleeding is Leading”). The end result was implied: periods are normal, and tampons are simple. Sometimes the best solution to discomfort is calling a spade a spade by telling it like it is.
In a culture where perfection is praised, CVS is flipping the script with their new ad campaign by showing real, diverse women in their not-always-glamoroud daily lives. The pharmacy has also stopped touching up images, giving all authentic photos their “CVS Beauty Mark,” a watermark stating that the image hasn’t been “materially altered.” In true Marilyn fashion, CVS is proving that even something as small as a beauty mark can be enough to make you stand out.
Change can be scary, but what’s even scarier is that not changing can be the downfall of your brand. Once you’re set in your ways, it can be hard to break those habits, but baby steps are key. And remember, you’re not alone: your comrades and competition are all trying to navigate murky marketing waters without going overboard.
At Rev-D, we help you take those steps toward change, while keeping your best interests and audience in mind. Social listening and an assessment of your current content strategy can help us to set the framework for your brand’s digital or social evolution, while community management and progress monitoring inform opportunities for optimization and campaign growth. For more information about working with us, give us a call at 973-539-2727 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can help modernize your brand.
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