Why Brand Hijacking International Women's Day Doesn't Work - BizPaul
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Why Brand Hijacking International Women’s Day Doesn’t Work

Cast of Hamilton

You know how it goes: you’re struggling for ideas of great social media content to create. You’ve had a look at your calendar of national/international events and, hurrah, you’ve spotted International Women’s Day is on Wednesday 8th March. There’s suddenly lots you can talk about: women, power, equality, all sorts.

If only your brand could get in on the buzz, your social media metrics would go through the roof as your reach and impressions zoom skywards like a North Korean missle (i.e. very temporarily). Your marketing director is going to be so impressed with your engagement levels, you’re sure to win that promotion you’re after.

Sadly, you’ve not engaged your brain properly and committed the cardinal sin when including these sorts of events into your content plan: you have no direct correlation between your brand and the subject matter.

You Don’t Qualify Just Because You Employ Women

‘Ah!’ I hear you say, ‘but we employ women and sell to women!’ Most likely true, congratulations. But, unless you’re a company that has a strong history of equality advocacy, many posts that try to include, and be supportive of, a topic like International Women’s Day will look a little trite.

Let’s look at a couple of examples from this year’s International Women’s Day, many of which are sourced from fellow social media colleagues on Twitter (I asked them to help find examples, and they delivered! – Special thanks to Pippa Akram here.).

This is from a logistics company. I’m happy that they are supporting the day (like all of these companies – I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt) but why is the woman in the picture naked? Does she have to be naked to be strong or is she strong because she’s naked? (look at the only reply to the tweet to see the reaction). A stronger message would have been to show some of their workforce, which they did on an earlier tweet (3 women in total) with much less engagement. To me, this tweet is a classic example of a firm wanting to get in on the act, but unfortunately, their choice of image lets them down.


The image in the tweet above is a shocker (IMHO). Could you get any more ‘girly’? Pink, long hair, flowers. Insurance just needs to have that connection to women. Perhaps to say ‘hey, lady drivers, we can offer you some insurance as long as you drive slowly’.

Oh Pot Noodle, what are you doing? Sure, not every woman wants to be tied to the kitchen so Pot Noodle will clearly  emancipate.

There are many more examples, just go and look at the ‘official’ hashtag on Twitter.

What Should You Do?

What should a brand do at times like this? Really, it’s simple. Don’t promote your product. Instead, promote women. Promote the women that work in your business. Promote the diversity of your board to show how your business leads others.

Wish your audience a Happy International Women’s Day. I’m not saying a company should ignore it if they cannot find an obvious connection – indeed, companies should feel free to celebrate any day they wish, but keep it simple.

Here are a couple of examples of tweets that I feel are more fitting to this celebration:


This tweet, from an organisation that actively promotes female equality, is funny and makes an important point. It’s relevant to the account (and original source).

Here’s an example of a brand linking the event directly to sales.


Of course this works: the product is directly related to women. Lunapads offers a discount to celebrate the day, at a time when various governments are coming under pressure to sort their tax classifications out on hygiene products including tampons and sanitary towels.

What I’ve found most interesting in reading hundreds of tweets from International Women’s Day is the poor choice of imagery that often accompanies them. In a recent #smlondon tweetchat on diversity, I too found it really quite difficult to find a licence-free image that included lots of different types of people. The best I managed (still not inclusive enough) was one of Barbie-type dolls with different skin tones – poor.

SMLondon Diverse Barbies

We need better examples of diverse licence free imagery


Keep It Simple

I accept it’s difficult to sometimes get the right balance. My advice is simple: don’t sell, celebrate. Demonstrate your connection if it’s strong enough and you have the backstory to prove it. If in doubt, don’t bother, no one will worry about your brand because you didn’t get arbitrarily involved.


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