How to reach the growing group of female powerhouses
Earlier this week, Flamingo’s Head of Cultural Futures, Helen Job, moderated one of the closing panels for Voxburner’s Youth Marketing Strategy event at The Old Truman Brewery. The panel, entitled ‘The Rise of the Female Powerhouse’, centred on the systemic nature of gender inequality in society, the emergence of new visions for feminism and female identity, and the growing expectation on brands to play a role in addressing these issues.
An inspiring backdrop of positive and dynamic energy and activity around youth feminism framed the talk. From on-the-ground collectives, to the visions of many occupying mainstream airwaves and screens, we’ve seen significant efforts to challenge and upend the very systems upholding gender inequalities. Increasingly too, we’re seeing brands discover that genuinely facilitating these cultural currents and supporting the cause is a hugely powerful way to create connections.
- "It is fast becoming a necessity of brands to genuinely put their money where their mouth is"
In discussing who it is that’s inspiring these new visions, Emma Gannon noted that conventional conceptions of the ‘role model’ have been radically reshaped. No longer do they have to represent a distant ideal, and no longer do traditional markers of age and experience determine their legitimacy nor define their ability to inspire others. Gannon cited Rowan Blanchard, the Disney star famed for her vocality on showbiz sexism and teen mental health, and one of a growing number of young girls carrying the banner.
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, provided a palpably pragmatic point of view, noting how she felt ‘pessimistic in intellect, optimistic in will’ with regards to the massive job to do free women from the societal, economic, and cultural roles they’ve been prescribed. Walker urged that we must do away with the notion of ‘real women’, suggesting that 'the longer we define women by how 'real' they are, the longer we continue to box them in'.
Indeed, this lies at the very heart of the issue that women are so often presented through an artificial-constructed and narrowly framed lens. Rebecca Myers praised the emergence of new forms of relatable role model, and the growing (although still insufficient) numbers of women in positions of seniority, stressing that young girls need more visible women in positions of power, concluding that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’.
Jane Cunningham also noted that there still remains a huge need to ‘integrate women into a broader vision of society’, a vision in which the playing field is levelled, where roles haven’t been proscribed nor dictated by others. As such, there’s an absolutely essential role for brands to play, to do away with identifying and defining women by a manufactured idea of ‘realness’ internally in company culture, and externally, through the communications they deliver.
Gena-mour Barrett, staff writer of Buzzfeed, stressed that for communications to connect with a certain demographic or group, the teams creating and delivering them must include people of those groups. She concluded, ‘If you’re serious about reaching certain people in your communications, you need to hire those kinds of people to be able to speak to them’.
Finally, there was praise for brands who have actively displayed a positive commitment to what they preach, working to deliver on their claims to help equalise the playing field. For the panel, it was evident that people are now more attuned than ever to visible jumps onto the bandwagon, and failure to speak and act authentically. Brands not choosing to conform to a new set of expectations run the risk of leaving a discernibly bitter taste in the mouths of their audiences, and run a far more fatal risk of having their brand pulled apart.
Image credit: Vogue
- Article by George Webster