In the contemporary world, shaped by globalization, where the rates of diversity in every society are higher than at any point in the previous history, social issues are especially meaningful and popular. One of the most frequently discussed social concerns today is gender equality; in this regard, there are still multiple aspects in which the representatives of any given gender require empowerment and support. The campaign under analysis is Like a Girl, launched by Always in 2015, targeting negative gender-related stereotypes about women and girls. The video clips included in the campaign received dozens of millions of views and have been reflected on and analyzed by multiple advertising and public relations experts.
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Like a Girl by Always is an advertising campaign that was launched in 2015. The campaign involved a series of video clips aired on television and placed on different social network platforms. Each of the videos revolved around women (young women in their teens, in particular) and targeted the problems of low self-esteem, a lack of support, and a need for empowerment that is generally unmet. The videos discuss negative stereotypes concerning women’s and girls’ capabilities and skills, as well as the outcomes these stereotypes tend to produce on the mentality and self-image of girls who are growing up and struggling to find self-actualization.
There have been several different videos released under the hashtag LikeAGirl, covering a variety of subjects related to the empowerment of women. Lauren Greenfield, a well-known film director, was the creator of the main video that aired during the 2015 Super Bowl. The video presents a series of interviews carried out by the director herself; she is asking several males and female teenagers and adults to show that it is like to run (fight, throw) like a girl. All of the respondents demonstrate these actions in a slightly funny manner, depicting the weakness of stereotypically timid girls. Next, a group of younger (elementary school age) girls are invited and asked the same question. Their iterations of the aforementioned actions show strength, determination, and passion. The video effectively demonstrates the contrast between the young girls’ idea of doing something “like a girl” and the stereotypes promoted by their society.
The core message of the campaign revolves around the phrase “like a girl” and connects it to the campaign’s keyword—unstoppable—thus suggesting that the idea of fierce, determined, and strong girls should replace the perception of girls as weak and timid. As explained in the videos, the basis for this message is the fact that young girls’ self-esteem tends to plummet as they enter their teenage years. As a result, the girls require support, acknowledgment, and empowerment in order not to lose their passion to express themselves.
From the first time the videos from the campaign are viewed, it becomes clear that the major goal behind them was the empowerment of women, a phenomenon that sells well in the contemporary world where the third wave of feminism is becoming increasingly popular in media circles. At the same time, Like a Girl is recognized as an advertising campaign, meaning that selling products by Always should be the primary goal. Interestingly, none of Always’ feminine hygiene products are seen or mentioned anywhere in the videos; as a matter of fact, the videos do not address the ultimate purpose of their products (menstruation), either. The connection between the products and the advertisement is implicit: the fact of the girls’ sensitive age and maturation associated with the decrease in their confidence levels.
In this way, it is possible to make a connection between Like a Girl and Real Beauty Sketches—another viral advertising campaign aimed at the empowerment of women that was launched by Dove. However, Dove’s campaign targeted harsh and unrealistic beauty standards that could actually be addressed and adjusted, using the brand’s power and the ability to embrace diverse appearances to promote their products. In the case of Always, the products it manufactures do not seem to have the power to battle diminished self-esteem levels in teenage girls. In that way, it is possible to state that the campaign was designed as an awareness-raising public service message that has little connection to the products marketed.
Judging from the viral popularity of the campaign—its main video was viewed more than 90 million times, and its hashtag LikeAGirl earned over 177 thousand tweets within the first three months (many of which came from celebrity users)—the campaign did not target any specific group of the population. However, it is important to remember that the major consumers of Always’ products are women. In addition, the company’s customer research showed that throughout the last decade, it had lost relevance with the younger segment of consumers, those aged 16 to 24 (“Case study: Always #LikeAGirl,” 2015). Thus, it is possible to state that the campaign targeted all groups of people but intended to market specifically to women, especially those in their teens and twenties.
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As a campaign with a deep and elaborate message delivered by means of a well-designed and professionally structured campaign, Like a Girl includes ethos, pathos, and logos.
In particular, the ethos of the campaign lies in a testimony based on the portrayal of a number of people demonstrating and applying the same negative stereotypes when asked to do something “like a girl.” When it comes to logos, the scientific fact that serves as the basis for the campaign’s core message presents statistical data concerning the rates of people’s self-esteem through their lifespans. Finally, pathos, or the attempt to create an emotional response to the message in the videos, was achieved by means of adding appropriate music and revealing an obvious but perhaps forgotten truth about the power of words and stereotypes. One may notice that the latter persuasive technique was the most emphasized in the video.
Like most contemporary companies, Always is focused on gradually shifting the costs invested in advertisements placed on television and favors the internet as a major vehicle for advertising (Coolidge, 2014). In particular, some of the preferred platforms of the campaign under discussion were YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. In fact, the YouTube channel for Always, where the first Like a Girl video was placed, saw a rapid increase (4,339%) in the number of subscribers during the first three months after the campaign release (“Case study: Always #LikeAGirl,” 2015).
The inclusion of young people (school and college-age) implies that the advertisement is designed to establish the brand’s connection with youth, making it easier for the latter to relate to the message. Also, the advertisement seems to rely on an appeal to the emotions of parents who are willing to protect their daughters from un-empowerment and from becoming discouraged by social pressures and negative stereotypes. The major tactical goal was to make the campaign viral by placing it on the most popular social network platforms and thus achieving the maximum reach. Moreover, the first video of the campaign was shown during the 2015 Super Bowl—one of the most-watched events in the United States (“Case study: Always #LikeAGirl,” 2015).
Timing, Budget, and Evaluation Tactics
Procter & Gamble, the company behind Always, has a massive amount of funds invested specifically in brand and product promotion. In particular, the company’s annual advertising budget approximated 10 million dollars (Coolidge, 2014). The timing of the campaign launch was aligned with the day of the 2015 Super Bowl to ensure that it had the best possible visibility from the start.
The success of the campaign was evaluated based on the number of views and shares of the video on social networks within different periods after the release, the number of subscribers and followers gained by Always on YouTube and Twitter, and the assessed changes in the purchase intent claimed by the target consumers that demonstrated a rate of growth that was 50% higher than initially anticipated by the marketers (“Case study: Always #LikeAGirl,” 2015).
In summary, Like a Girl by Always is recognized as the second-most viral advertisement campaign worldwide (“Case study: Always #LikeAGirl,” 2015). Its elaborate message and combination of diverse persuasion techniques aligned with active promotion and increased visibility, resulting in growth in the consumers’ intent to purchase Always products, along with stronger brand recognition and higher company reputation.
Case study: Always #LikeAGirl. (2015). Web.
Coolidge, A. (2014). P&G ad hits ‘Like a Girl’. Web.