Most fashion adverts go by without much comment or fanfare from consumers online.

H&M’s latest campaign, however, has been met with a flurry of positivity from people on Twitter and other social networks.

Here are just a handful of positive tweets in response to the video. 

So why does it work?

Here’s a closer look at the campaign, along with why other brands can learn from H&M’s bold approach.

Using fashion as a form of self-expression

More often than not, I find fashion advertising pretty uninspiring, and particularly the adverts on television.

I suppose it’s a tough job – how else do you promote clothing other than with a bunch of models dancing or strutting around in them? But, it still feels a little vacuous and unrelatable.

Brands ranging from M&S to Missguided are guilty of this, using adverts to showcase fashion at its most pristine and polished. (See the below example).

In contrast, H&M’s less-than-glamorous approach is refreshing.

It places fashion in the context of every day, depicting women wearing clothes exactly how they would actually be worn in real life situations – not on a runway or in front of a green screen. 

So firstly, let’s forget the gender norms stuff. 

It’s just nice to see a group of women wearing clothes in a natural and relatable way – and as an expression of their personality or identity.

Playful and relatable approach

So, onto the main reason why the ad has garnered such a big response – its depiction of women and what it means to be ‘ladylike’ in 2016.

Reworking Tom Jones’ hit, ‘She’s a Lady’, the ad depicts women in various scenarios such as singing karaoke, being loud in restaurants and leading boardrooms. 

It challenges traditional stereotypes and encourages women to be fierce and fearless.

So why does it resonate more than other feminism-driven campaigns?

Despite other examples like Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ or Nike’s ‘Better for It’, there aren’t many that tackle big issues relating to gender in playful and humorous ways.

Lately, there seems to have been an attempt to make feminism fashionable, with feminist slogans seen on the runway and designers putting their names behind campaigns like ‘He for She’.

There’s nothing wrong with this – quite the opposite of course. 

However, it does come off as quite serious, and perhaps a little off-putting for the everyday consumer.

On the other hand, H&M’s position as a high street name means the subject becomes far more relatable.

It is certainly not a serious video, and so makes the whole concept of being a ‘lady’ seem rather silly too. 

This inspires consumers (and especially young consumers) to think of gender norms in the same way.

Encourages sharing and consumer involvement

Lastly, H&M’s campaign is a great example of how to capitalise on online buzz.

By asking consumers to share what they think it means to be a lady, the video has created further discussion on the topic, and led to even more people sharing and commenting on the campaign.

While brands using hashtags might be common practice, it is uncommon within the world of fashion for an unrelated topic to take off.

Instead of sharing what they're wearing or the items they want to buy, consumers are simply joining in on a conversation about what it is like to be a woman.

By sparking a natural discussion, H&M has succeeded in creating awareness of its brand during the key Autumn/Winter season, as well as connecting and engaging with its core audience.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 3 October, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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