With women at the forefront of 2018, there seems to be a change emerging in the way brands target their female consumers.
Popular young women’s clothing brand, Aerie, a subsidiary of American Eagle, has made body-positivity a key element of their marketing strategy. With its #AerieREAL campaign trending consistently since its launch in 2014 and dressing rooms with post-it notes filling the mirrors with positive affirmations, the brand’s vision is to encourage consumers to be happy in their own skin. For example, Aerie’s newest lingerie line features models with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Quite noteworthy, there was no announcement of the newest models, instead, Aerie let the photos speak for themselves.
Not only are brands changing their marketing landscape, consumers are demanding it. A study published by Dove noted that 54 percent of girls aged 10-17 don’t have high body esteem, and in turn are missing out on key opportunities due to a lack of confidence. A resounding 68 percent of girls wish the media did a better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness, age, ethnicity, shape and size.
Aerie’s more conscious ad campaign received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Comments flooded the brand’s Twitter and Instagram complementing the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Aerie exhibited commitment to addressing the crushing pressure women all over the world feel from the fashion industry. Aerie Global Brand President Jennifer Foyle explained the attitude of the brand saying,
“At Aerie, we believe in authentic, real beauty and never airbrush our models. Now, more than ever, we want to encourage women everywhere to feel empowered to embrace their own unique qualities and beautiful REAL selves.”
However, not all advertising has taken the same initiative. Recently, detox and diet brand Flat Tummy Co. came under fire for its billboard in New York City that showed a young woman holding a lollipop and smiling with the phrase “Got cravings? Tell them to suck it!” The advertisement displaying the company’s appetite suppressing suckers was posted on Twitter by Sophie Vershbow, and sparked discussion of how the brand targeted young women and encouraged unhealthy behavior. The company has already faced scrutiny over its marketing strategy, as a large portion of its marketing is done through social media from celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and other popular influencers.
Advertising has drastically changed over the last ten years. With consumers now quick to call-out companies that are playing into insecurities rather than strengths, brands must shift their outdated marketing philosophies. In an environment where anything can become viral on social media, brands that showcase blatant sexism, racism and body-shaming, must be more aware of the message they’re sending or risk creating a public relations nightmare.