But the success of Dove's female empowerment campaigns over the last three years has encouraged other brands to launch their pro-women campaigns in April as well.
This month we’re seen three great examples of female empowerment campaigns that address body image and beauty issues, paying homage to Dove’s legacy while pushing the genre forward. And, let’s be clear: Female empowerment has moved from a trend to a genre unto itself.
Let’s start with Lane Bryant’s “#ImNoAngel,” which features curvy models – including Ashley Graham, who was in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue – in the retailer’s new Cacique lingerie brand. The campaign takes a direct shot at Victoria’s Secret, showing that women of all sizes can be sexy, and asking the question, “how boring would it be if we were all the same?”
“#ImNoAngel” showcases different body types – much like Dove’s 2004 “Campaign for Real Beauty” – and has created debate about body image and body-shaming issues, much ase Dove has. But unlike past empowerment videos, these non-traditional models aren’t just communicating body acceptance; they are making the bold statement that they are just as sexy, or more so, than supermodels.
Or what about Dear Kate, a small retailer that manufactures underwear made of fabric that protects against stains. In its new campaign, “First Time,” the brand interviews a group of women about their first periods. Done documentary-style, the campaign normalizes a subject that can often be awkward.
Asking everyday consumers to talk straight to the camera about a difficult and personal subject has been a staple of Dove’s advertising for years. Where this video moves the genre forward is in its tone, which is humorous. Most “go girl” campaigns make us introspective, and maybe a little teary; this campaign empowers us by finding the amusement in a shared experience.
The most high-profile brand besides Dove to launch an empowerment campaign this month is Nike. In its biggest initiative to date, Nike Women released “Inner Thoughts,” a video that depicts all the self-doubt that run through a woman’s head when she sits behind a row of models in spin class, runs a half-marathon, and joins her first yoga class. The campaign ends with an uplifting message as those thoughts are overcome by enjoyment of the exercise itself. The campaign uses the tag #betterforit, a softer and more inward looking tagline than “Just Do It.”
Addressing women’s self-doubt and criticism is a mainstay of the empowerment genre, but, in the past, brands like Dove have done so in a serious and emotional way. Online viewers tend to love hyper emotional content; it is what makes them want to watch and share videos online. Nike knows this, which is why its campaigns are often so gut-wrenchingly inspirational. But viewers are really connecting with the light-hearted tone of this Nike campaign, which may inspire other brands to ease up on the tearjerkers.
These campaigns from Lane Bryant, Dear Kate, and Nike Women all owe something to Dove. Dove showed brands that tackling the tough issues could lead to big pay-off – debate, conversation, and viewership – when done well. But there is more than one way to empower a consumer, and it will be exciting to see how Dove and other brands continue to advance this new genre of creative.