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Campaigns celebrating female empowerment are being used by brands to advertise everything from deodorant to designer clothes.

And it’s a theme which, if executed right, can resonate well with audiences both female and male alike. 

In the last year there have been several high profile campaigns along this theme including the #thisgirlcan campaign by Sport England and Always’ #likeagirl campaign, which both achieved massive levels of reach and engagement.

But how does the theme of women’s rights translate to campaigns globally?

In this post I'll run through some of the most fascinating international campaigns focusing on female empowerment, and see how different cultures interpret the concept. 


Whisper’s #touchthepickle campaign by P&G India was created to debunk the taboos of things women supposedly shouldn’t do when they’re on their period.

The undeniably hilarious hashtag #touchthepickle is in reference to the superstitious belief that if women touch a pickle jar when they’re on their period, the pickles inside will rot.

The accompanying YouTube video achieved over 2m views and users were invited to share their #touchthepickle period-taboo busting moments on social media which added another dimension of user-generated content to the campaign. 


Memac Ogilvy and Mather’s powerful campaign for UN women in Dubai exposed some of the horrifying auto-complete phrases seen in Google when searching for terms related to women.

From ‘women shouldn’t have rights’ to ‘women shouldn’t work’, the widespread sexism of popular searches was truly shocking.

The campaign ignited global conversations with over 24m Twitter mentions alone for the #autocompletetruth hashtag, and the campaign was discussed on social media by women from more than 100 different countries.

BBC #100women

The annual BBC #100women campaign focuses on sharing the stories of women from around the world, which can be overlooked by mainstream media, with the aim of making news content more engaging for female audiences.

It is truly international, with content being shared in eight languages across two international BBC social media channels (Twitter & Facebook) featuring women from across the globe.

The 100 women representing the campaign are diverse, ranging from world leaders to local heroines coming from all walks of life. The multi-channel campaign has a hugely social focus.

Nandita Patkar, head of paid media at Oban Digital, explains:

For this year’s campaign, the BBC World Service wanted to improve online campaign traffic across Arabic, Hindi, Spanish and Afrique, Urdu and Swahili. Our expert teams researched which markets and channels would offer the most impact in terms of relevancy, reach and cost and planned accordingly.

Our amplification of content throughout the live debates showed that there was a strong interest in the topic from Eastern Africa and India. Overall though, Spanish had the majority of reach and engagement.


This recent spoof campaign from Lidl Ireland caused much controversy on social media.

It seemingly promoted a dainty pink ‘Ladyball’, suitable for sports women, boasting ‘soft-touch for a woman’s grip’ and ‘eazi-play – for a woman’s ability’.

While many correctly suspected that the ‘sexist’ campaign was nothing more than a marketing ploy, it still managed to spark debate and gain considerable news coverage.

The campaign was indeed a tongue-in-cheek promotion tactic; in fact designed to raise awareness of Ladies Gaelic Football which is now sponsored by Lidl Ireland.

Reaction to the humorous approach was positive in general, although some Twitter users took objection to the contrived nature of the advertisements, and questioned whether all PR is indeed good PR when it purports to support such dated views.

However, the campaign was successful in igniting social media mentions and gaining media placements, reaching a large audience in the process.


Latin America’s mainstream culture places a high value on traditional female beauty ideals.

So, when popular Mexican actress and director Patricia Reyes Spíndola posed topless revealing her reconstructed breasts in a series of striking photographs shared via social media, it caused quite a stir.

The campaign, #VivaLaReconstruction, aimed to spread awareness of breast cancer while showcasing an alternative view of female beauty focused on the strength and resilience of a woman’s body.

The images were widely shared and were generally well-received by the Latin American audience.

Many people tweeted that they found the campaign concept and the accompanying visuals refreshing and inspiring. 

In conclusion...

All of these campaigns were successful because they carefully considered the audiences they were targeting, and addressed issues which effect real women from those regions.

From body image and gender norms through to female sport and women’s rights, the umbrella of female empowerment can encompass many topics.

Undeniably, woman power has proved itself to be a forceful theme for igniting social media debate and conversation across the globe.

But, for marketers hoping to cash-in on the theme, caution is advised as increasingly audiences are savvy to so-called ‘femvertising’.

Campaigns channelling female power will only have legs if they manage to identify with real women and avoid alienating them by coming across as too contrived or patronising. 

Chloe McKenna

Published 17 February, 2016 by Chloe McKenna

Chloe McKenna is International Digital Strategist at Oban Digital and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

6 more posts from this author

Comments (2)


luc wechseler, Online Marketeer at MS Mode


8 months ago


Hubert Grealish, Co-founder, managing partner. at MPERA Consulting

Nice.. here's another - big - social crew. #GirlCrew ...
Facebook HQ's just this month had them over..

What's amazing here is GirlCrew captured in only a year or so, something like now 25,000 members worldwide.. with zero marketing budget! The premise being to help new women in town or those wishing to break out and meet other girls get together. Even as a bloke I can recognize how it feels to move to new city etc and whilst it's possiblye still bit 'macho' for lads generally I find this initiative really great...


The Team

Elva Carri, Founder, @elvacarri

Elva Carri has a background in copywriting and digital marketing and works as editor of a magazine as well as freelance writing and editing for online.

Pamela Newenham, Co-Founder & Operations, @PamIrishTimes

Aine Mulloy, Co-Founder & Strategy, @AMulloy1

8 months ago

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