Here’s what we learned from the Grand Prix winners, Barbie, This Girl Can and Bodyform/Libresse with thanks to Bridget Angear, Vicki Holgate, Alaina Crystal and Margaux Revol
Insights for action and tips on how to make change and sustain its effects – even when it’s really hard:
Keep going: Once a door has been kicked open you need to keep kicking because otherwise it tends to slowly close again.
Be simple: When you can express your idea in a sentence, it’s easier for others to take it and amplify it.
Arm yourself with the facts: There will be nay-sayers but having facts and the truth of your side will help.
What we can learn from This Girl Can
Strength in numbers: Thinking you are the only person to feel a certain way tends to stifle confidence and cement current behaviour. In this case, thinking they were the only woman to feel judged when exercising was holding millions of individual women back. A bold campaign, shouted from the rooftops helped them realise they were not alone and that fostered a solidarity and a confidence to start exercising. Be bold. Be overtly public. Go large.
Convention and bias runs deep: As humans we are all affected by years of accepted wisdom and conditioning. Breaking these biases and challenging convention can be hard for everyone. Push yourself. Try new things. And be compassionate of others wrestling with that mindshift. But keep pushing them to do things differently!
It’s a steeplechase, not a sprint: Changing behaviour is difficult and complex. Find the biggest barrier & tackle that first with all your might. Then find and tackle the ‘next biggest barrier’. There will always be one. Sometimes a barrier repeats further down the sequence. Keep a close eye on the research. Work out who is and who isn’t responding and why. Non-responders are not a sign of failure - they are natural occurrence along the path of behaviour change. Don’t try to tackle every barrier from the off - smash them down relentlessly one by one.
What we can learn from Barbie
Reclaim a lost purpose and commit to it: The brand’s power has to come from what is true to it. Brand purpose is still an important part of creating long-term change, but it must be authentic to what the brand can actually deliver against.
Celebrate the wins where you can: It’s tempting to think that everything is always shit for women - and it often is. But celebrate the milestones and advances, especially if that feels congruent with your brand purpose. Barbie exists to celebrate women’s choices, not just point out the places where they have none.
Impact is measured in years, not impressions: It’s taken nine years to get from the initial repositioning and reclaiming of Barbie’s purpose, to the hugely successful film today. Even if you won’t be a part of the impact every single step of the way, know that it is about the relay race of passing the baton to the next, and the next, and the next, to keep the legacy going and the impact on both sales and culture positive and possible.
What we can learn from Bodyform/Libresse
Normality can be revolutionary: Bloodnormal wasn’t just a case of turning blue liquid red. It was daring to show all the things that should be normal around periods that are still not considered so in media. Just showing women as they actually are can be an act of revolt and of kindness. It can be hugely freeing for women to see their real lives and experiences represented in the media.
Bravery never gets easy. But you can get better at it. If it’s easy, it’s probably not a taboo. And will it be any good?
Don’t tell women how to feel. Make them feel. We’ve had enough patronising ads and messages. The problem for women to feel more confident, empowered, accepting of their bodies or whatever you’re trying to do is likely not to tell them to just be that. Kick down the barriers yourself for them.