Challenging gender bias is key theme in Women’s Day campaigns

During International Women’s Day, brands launch limited-edition products and discounts to try to capture the attention of their female consumers

International Women’s Day on March 8 gains more coverage year-on-year as society reflects on the inequalities that women face, highlights women’s achievements and strives for further progress. It has also become an opportunity for brands to both show support for and target their female consumers.

In China, it has become known as ‘Queen’s Day and ‘Goddess Day’  as brands have sought to encourage women to spend money and pamper themselves on the special day. In many ways, it has turned into another shopping festival as brands launch limited-edition products and discounts to try to capture the attention of their female consumers.

However, the brands that will really develop a meaningful connection with their female consumer base are those that offer a deeper message and seek to empathise with the gender inequality and social expectations that women face. We’ve outlined three campaigns for International Women’s Day 2021 from Chinese brands that have done exactly this.

Tmall Super Brand Day’s alphabet for women

Tmall Super Brand inspired women with a unique poem featuring an alphabet of twenty-six brands

Tmall Super Brand inspired women with a unique poem featuring an alphabet of twenty-six brands. The campaign, which was created by the agency Haomai Advertising, shared women’s feelings towards certain brands under the slogan “Wŏ mén are women” (We are women).

Wŏ mén are women

Slogan of Tmall Super Brand Day’s International Women’s Day campaign

Tmall Super Brand Day was launched on August 12, 2015 as a way to celebrate and promote brands that have a store on the e-commerce platform. Every month, Tmall chooses ten to twenty brands who are given their own day for the platform to promote them and offer special discounts to consumers. Super Brand Day has become known as ‘brands’ own Singles’ Day’ and has been adopted by other leading e-commerce platforms, such as JD and Eleme. As of last year, over 500 global brands had participated in Tmall’s Super Brand Day and its hashtag had hit 26.46 billion views on Weibo, making the name an influential Intellectual Property.

Half of the brands that have participated in Tmall’s Super Brand Days took part in the campaign. The video and poem aimed to encourage women to find their own ‘super brand’ which embodied their individual spirit and personality. The twenty-six lines featured a range of Chinese and international brands, and Mandarin was used in the lines which referred to domestic companies.

I’m the legendary Arden
Bobbi Brown shows her beauty around
Cartier is the center
Disney is magic
Estee Lauder believes every woman can be beautiful
方太,不止一个姿态 (Fang Tai has various postures)
Power up, Guerlain
The perfect Helena Rubinstein is ready for love
Yes, I DO
Jo Malone London girls have their own signature scents
Kindle a dream
Create a Lego wonderland
Being strong and soft, makes McDonald's excellent
我的骄傲,由内而外 (My pride, inside and out - Neiwai)
Olay, no fear of ages
Pandora has all possibilities
Wisdom is the skill for CliniQue
Rose is not Only for pretty
I’m passionate STARBUCKS
The most wanted is Tom Ford
I’m Vans for creativity
I'm Wyeth, nourishing the future
I'm high-tech 小米 (Xiaomi)
YSL rock and roll
小女钟薛高这厢有礼了 (Miss Zhong Xuegao shows courtesy to you.)

The video gained 21.4 million views and many netizens praised the copy and the creative idea.

“I hope all females can embrace themselves not just on this special day but every day.”

A netizen’s comment

Tmall’s bullet screen challenges gender bias

Tmall Super Brand Day was not the only part of the e-commerce platform to launch a campaign for International Women’s Day. Tmall itself built a bullet-screen comments wall in the shape of its logo at Shanghai’s upmarket Xintiandi district.

When passers-by approach the bullet-screen comments wall, sentences highlighting the stereotypes and biases facing women pop up, including:

“Marriage is an essential part of every woman’s life.”

“Getting married to a good guy is the most important thing for women.”

“You are not young anymore, don’t have high standards when finding a husband.”

If passers-by don’t agree with the statement, they can stand on a small podium in front of the wall and the phrases will change to inspiring comments, such as:

“Society’s standards should not define beauty.”

“Love yourself.”

“Everyone deserves to be loved.” 

“Stop being mean to yourself when you don’t have a ‘perfect body shape’.”

Many women stopped to stand on the podium and take selfies with the bullet-screen comment wall. The offline and online integration of the campaign meant that it was widely shared on social media, especially Weibo, and the related hashtag ‘#how cool is it that girls can counterattack’ gained 130 million views. Tmall worked with Calvin Klein and LAMER to promote the campaign on Weibo and encouraged female users to share their stories about anti-gender bias.

Perfect Diary highlights outstanding Chinese women

China’s most popular domestic beauty brand Perfect Diary worked with state-run news outlet China Daily and media company Xinshixiang to interview four female celebrities and influencers. The campaign video “Outstanding Chinese Girls” was based around the idea that:

“girls don’t need to live by other people’s standards, because you have your own life and you are the person who should take control of your life.”

The interviewers had all experienced gender stereotypes in their lives but didn’t let these inhibit them from following their dreams. In the video, they shared their experiences and encouraged viewers to act independently of societal pressures and expectations.

The female celebrities interviewed had all experienced gender stereotypes in their lives but didn’t let these inhibit them from following their dreams

The video featured Yamy Guo, a member of the girl group Rocket Girls 101, who experienced criticism for not fitting stereotypical female beauty standards due to her single eyelids and small eyes. A lot of people around her suggested that she should get cosmetic surgery for double eyelids. Her agency manager even commented “Yamy is ugly and unfashionable” during a meeting. Yamy posted the recording on Weibo and sparked a debate about gender discrimination and the issue of career PUA. Her experience also highlighted China’s unrealistic beauty standards and netizens commented that her appearance is what makes her unique.

The video, which gained over 6.4 million views on Weibo, also featured Hui Ruoqi, the former captain of China’s women’s volleyball team, and Yang Li, a comedian known for her material which challenges the patriarchy. As part of the campaign, Perfect Diary announced its partnership with the national Chinese gymnastics team and launched a new lipstick which was promoted as a product for confident Chinese women.

Sincerity is important

Brands need to produce a sincere campaign for their female consumers during International Women’s Day to show them that they aren’t just treating the occasion as another shopping festival. Those who convey messages of female empowerment or challenge gender stereotypes and beauty standards will be rewarded with high engagement figures online. As well as the brands listed above, Neiwai, Dior and Proya also proved popular among Chinese consumers online.

The above campaigns also show how online and offline integration, and the inclusion of popular KOL and celebrities can promote engagement with consumers.

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