Whilst (for most people) the answer to this question may seem simple, the true reality of women’s identity – just like men – is more complex. It’s not a binary choice between a misogynistic “locker room” (Donald Trump) perception versus a more modern and enlightened (Justin Trudeau) “feminist” view. There are many forms of identity that girls and women of today aspire to.
It’s this reality that brands and businesses are – surprisingly slowly – getting to grips with. Many brands still seem to be stuck in an old fashioned and outdated sense of women and their role in the world, where at its extreme, “getting to grips with female identity” has more of the physical connotations that Trump (allegedly) believes is the entitlement of men. If you think this is an unfair accusation then just check out a couple of recent examples of new initiatives from the motor industry.
First up there is the new Seat Mii, designed specially for women in collaboration with Cosmopolitan, who claimed that their research helped them to understand that as far as women are concerned, “Your car is a place for impromptu karaoke performances, last-minute wardrobe changes, dramatic gossip sessions and emergency lunch-hour kips.” Among the many features supposedly designed for today’s “fun and fearless Cosmo girl”, the highlight must be the fact that “its headlights have an ‘eyeliner’ shape, emphasised in the same way as make-up emphasises the eye” but on a more practical level it does come with easy parking and hill hold control (essential for women who lack the basic driving skills of men). Not surprisingly the twitter-sphere was full of far from flattering comments on the car’s recent release.
The Seat Mii by Cosmopolitan
And then there is the recent ad from Fiat for their iconic 500 model which shows the product testing required (by the male engineers of course) to check that the car can withstand the assault from the emotionally out of control female partner of the ‘bad boy’ owner.
One can only assume that sales from women are unimportant to their business. And that they believe that their female employees feel proud and inspired to be working for a company that creates such campaigns.
For those of us living in a more contemporary version of the world, during 2016 we have discovered that Wonder Woman is now queer and a UN Ambassador, Google has launched a broader and more representative set of female emojis, Latifa is the new female comic superhero of the Arab world, Disney is reviewing the role of female characters in their princess culture, and to turn everything completely on its head, James Charles has just become the first cover boy of CoverGirl.
It is clear that we are living in a rapidly evolving world of gender identity. One where the opportunities for girls and women are opening up across the globe.
So when it comes to being culturally relevant to the 49.6% of the world’s population that are female, it is those organisations who recognize the rich spectrum of aspirational identities that truly reflect the reality of girls and women of today (and tomorrow) that are winning over these 3.7 billion potential brand advocates, consumers and drivers of positive change.
Unilever has already committed to proactively addressing the restrictive (and often subconscious) stereotypes of women in advertising.
And Mattel is reconnecting with its original purpose of inspiring young girls through Barbie’s “You Can Be Anything” campaign by “championing a world where all girls pursue their limitless potential”.
These organizations are leading the way, with a more meaningful and authentic point of view. And they are already seeing the benefits in business results – Barbie has seen a double-digit growth in sales!
To help marketers, insight leaders and changemakers to stay in tune with the diverse female identities of today, we at Innate Motion have just published our new book, “Beyond The Powergirl”. By providing an inspiring framework of 16 different future feminine archetypes, we hope you will join the movement to unleash the potential of feminine identities and unlock more potential by building stronger brands, businesses and communities. Download your free ebook here.
PS: If you have Donald Trump’s email address, feel free to forward him a copy. I expect Justin Trudeau will be a real fan of the book, so hopefully he will choose to order a hard copy from Amazon.