Procter & Gamble’s Always is the world’s leading feminine care brand. Its commitment to empowering girls through puberty education dates back decades. Yet in 2013, the brand realised that its purpose wasn’t apparent to the latest generation of consumers. Always’ brand communications had remained focused on product performance, while its main competitors had moved on.
Always needed a new way to appeal to millennial girls in the face of growing competition from rivals gaining traction via social media.
Always briefed its agency partners – Leo Burnett Chicago, London, Toronto, and Holler – to create a new campaign that:
- leveraged Always’ legacy of supporting girls as they go through puberty;
- reinforced why Always is relevant to girls; and
- showed that Always understands the social issues girls today face at puberty.
Research conducted for the campaign revealed that more than 50 percent of women claimed they experienced a decline in confidence at puberty. The opportunity was clear to the creative team: there was a powerful, relevant and purposeful role for the campaign to empower girls during this time of their lives when their confidence is low.
The team explored different factors that influence girls during the vulnerable time of puberty. During this process, someone taped a piece of paper that read ‘like a girl’ to the board. The explanation behind the idea was that ‘like a girl’ has been around forever and is used in derogatory ways – let’s change the meaning of it. The team was instantly drawn to this concept.
The campaign that ensued was built around a social experiment to show the impact that the phrase ‘like a girl’ had on society, especially on girls pre- and post-puberty. The campaign would also aim to redefine confidence in a way that was more relevant to girls today and turn a phrase that had become an insult into an empowering message.
The content at the heart of the campaign was a video that captured how people of all ages interpret the phrase ‘like a girl’. This was seen as the best way to spark a conversation by encouraging debate.
Directed by documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield, the footage revealed that, between puberty and adulthood, many women internalise the phrase ‘like a girl’ to mean weakness and vanity. The experiment also showed how a little encouragement can go a long way to change perceptions of what ‘like a girl’ means.
Once the film was shot, the details of how best to spread the message and empower women were finalised. The hashtag #LikeAGirl was introduced as an essential social media element to unite people around the world, enabling them to discuss the need for change and to show others how ‘like a girl’ can mean amazing things.
DISTRIBUTION & ENGAGEMENT
The #LikeAGirl video was launched on 26 June 2014 at a PR event and on YouTube simultaneously. PR then played a big part in amplifying its effect, getting the video out to the media and influencers.
The #LikeAGirl hashtag captured the essence of the idea and encouraged people to take part in changing the meaning of the phrase, which had a big impact on distribution and engagement. Unsolicited influencers joined the conversation and more than 20 female organisations spread the word.
Always #LikeAGirl generated considerable awareness around the world and changed the way people think about the phrase ‘like a girl’.
Prior to watching the film, just 19% of 16- to 24-year-olds had a positive association toward the phrase ‘like a girl’. After watching, 76% said they no longer saw the phrase negatively. In addition, two out of three men who watched it said they’d now think twice before using ‘like a girl’ as an insult.
Since the #LikeAGirl launch, other videos have been made to expand and develop the campaign. They include a 60-second spot during the 2015 Super Bowl and, to mark International Women’s Day, the follow-up video ‘Unstoppable’ showing how the meaning of the phrase ‘like a girl’ is already changing. The initial social experiment has snowballed into an Always-backed global movement that includes confidence summits and education partnerships to help empower girls.
I was really proud to be part of this Always social experiment. The most moving part of the experiment for all of us watching and engaging with the participants was how many women [showed us negative connotations of what ‘like a girl’ meant to them] then went ‘Wait a minute, why did I just do that?’ I think confidence means being able to find your own power that gives you some stability and allows you to follow your own path in a way where you can express yourself.
Lauren Greenfield, filmmaker, director of #LikeAGirl film
#LikeAGirl is proof of the power of creativity. People connect with and buy from brands that share similar points of view or values they have. These brands have big ambitions and they make an emotional connection with their consumers. That’s why purpose-driven brands are succeeding.
Judy John, CEO & Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett Canada
This case study was originally published in the BOBCM Special D&AD Edition collaboration, co-edited by Justin Kirby and Greta MacFarlane.