Is Gender Equality Just A Trend To Nigerian Brands?

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Marketing is a powerful force, a force strong enough to change ideas and create positive action. We must use that power thoughtfully.’

The international movement against sexual harassment and assault, the daily conversation on social media, has provoked thoughts such as the #SexForGrades which has increased visibility for the challenges women face around the world. It’s also raised the stakes for brands who want to engage female consumers.

In the past two decades, the use of “femvertising” – marketing to women with themes of feminism has risen sharply as the modern-day women’s rights movement gains huge popularity. 

Are the daily messages effective or is it just a trend. Profiting from these ideals while embodying the opposite is not clever, it’s exploitation. Perhaps hoping for a similar outcome, many brands have since jumped on the femvertising bandwagon, seeking to attract not only female buyers but Millennial consumers.

Stop Marketing To Women With Ads Created By Men

Most importantly, when brands claim to be stewards of feminist ideals in their advertising but do not live up to those ideals in practice, it has a direct impact on the women’s rights movement. There is a very real danger in companies exploiting feminism’s message without taking action to further the movement by diminishing feminism to a tagline, or a hashtag, instead of a mechanism to engage in the real, hard work of promoting true equality.

Feminism isn’t a tagline. It should be a mindset but Nigerian brands are not seeing it this way.

I’m not an advocate for all brands to use feminism in their advertising. But, if you’re going to capitalize on the movement, consider your responsibility first.

Practice what you preach:

Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. Ask the hard questions about how your organization manifests feminism’s ideals before you stand on this platform. That means transparently pay women equally to men, demonstrate women leadership at the highest levels of the organization and throughout the ranks, mandate supplier diversity. Nigerian brands are often quick to jump on feminism and social media trends but how many of them practice what they preach.

WEMA bank has  4 women in its 11 member board of directors.

First bank has 3 women in its 13 member board of directors

GTBank has 4 women in its 14 member board of directors.

Access bank has 3 women in its 9 member board of directors.

UBA has 4 women in its 18 member board of directors.

Zenith Bank has 1 woman in its 13 member board of directors. 

Eco Bank has 3 women in its 13 member board of directors.

Think twice:

Taking any stance as an organization on a politically charged or hot button issue is a risk, which will invite criticism from both supporters and opponents of the issue. The WEMA bank newsletter blamed women for patriarchy, the day equated to celebrating women. There are many options your marketing can take. Think twice, maybe three times, as to whether gender equality is the direction that makes the most sense for you.

Go authentic for real impact.

The best marketing involves real stories from real people. Ultimately, if you’re marketing to women, you should be using women to do so (I’m including all people who identify as women here). It’s honestly as simple as that! If your ad team is a bunch of men sitting around a table brainstorming about what women care about, that’s a big red flag.

Think beyond the hashtag:

If you determine that your organization practices what it preaches, consider what else you can do to support women beyond the feel-good message of your hashtag. 

If we can’t hold our organizations up to the scrutiny of true equality, we should never cheapen the movement by exploiting the narrative. It’s too reckless and there are real consequences. Our society, and our consumers, deserve more. Stop objectifying women in the marketing of other product lines or business units.

Feminism isn’t a gender role competition, it does not negate that men are often physically stronger than women. It speaks to make the society better and passes through a large ray of topics ranging from gender pay to toxic masculinity and a host of others. It is left for brands to ensure that there are women seated when these campaigns are made, allow those who are affected by it and understand it, handle it and make the decisions.

We have to do better! 

Note: This is long taken research, and facts are referenced. 

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