What Brands and Agencies Are Doing for International Women's Day

Efforts from Barbie, Guinness, TBWA and more

Brands and agencies around the world are celebrating International Women's Day today, which has become a major event in recent years. (Remember the unveiling of Fearless Girl two years ago?) Below is a sampling of some of this year's more creative efforts recognizing women this year. 


72andSunny Amsterdam

This agency created a flotilla of boobs and floated them "blissfully down Amsterdam's beautiful canals, to celebrate the fact that boobs are just boobs." The idea was triggered by agency research with more 150 people that revealed 78 percent had felt embarrassed by their breasts at some point of their lives. 

"We think it's pretty strange that as a society we are so stressed out about boobs. Our team's aim is to highlight the scrutiny and unnecessary sexualisation that boobs still have to go through," says Laura Visco, deputy executive creative director at 72andSunny Amsterdam. 

"We want to open up the dialogue about everyone having an opinion about this supposedly 'controversial' body part," Visco adds. "You still can't post any pictures showing nipples on Facebook or Instagram, for example, if not showing breastfeeding or, say, mastectomy scars. Cultural policing of women's bodies starts early and only gets worse with age. Too big, too small, too old, too young—boobs are judged, inspected, grabbed and censored. At 72andSunny Amsterdam, we believe all breasts are wonderfully equal. No judgement here. They're just boobs." 

The campaign uses the hashtag #JustBoobs.


Alzheimer's Association

Two-thirds of people living with Alzheimer's are women, and women over 60 are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's as breast cancer. Those little-known facts are at the core of GSD&M's new campaign for the Alzheimer's Association in partnership with Maria Shriver's Women's Alzheimer's Movement (WAM). 


Barbie

In celebration of its 60th anniversary and International Women's Day, Mattel made Barbie versions of 38 famous women around the world, past and present. The campaign is called "Role Models."


B-Reel

This agency asked women how they feel about mansplaining. (And let's hope the dude interrupting relentlessly at the beginning is meant to be a gag?)


Brawny

Brawny is celebrating "what it means for generations of female pioneers to forge the path to progress, shatter gender stereotypes and inspire young girls and women to follow in their footsteps." The new spot "Generations of Strength" is part of the brand's ongoing #StrengthHasNoGender campaign.


Budweiser

The brewer took three of its cringingly sexist ads from the 1950s and '60s and updated them for the modern age—and is running them side by side in three major newspapers today. Check out the whole story here.


Catalyst

This global nonprofit, which works to build workplaces that work for women, tackles gender bias in a campaign with Burns Group that spans Slack, social, OOH and digital. It includes a #BiasCorrect plug-in for Slack (built by Eskalera) that tags unconscious bias in real-time conversations during the work-based chat. For instance, if a woman is described as "aggressive," the app corrects the sentiment to "assertive." 

#BiasCorrect Slack plug-in

The campaign also features high-profile women from diverse industries and the words that have been used to describe them, with an associated #BiasCorrect word. The women include Mita Mallick, head of diversity at Unilever; Gale King, chief administrative officer at Nationwide; Tawana Murphy Burnett, global lead at Facebook; and Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest. You can also upload you own photos at catalyst.org/biascorrect, and create images of yourself with the same overlay to be shared with the hashtag #BiasCorrect. 


Cogs & Marvel

This experiential agency is bringing back "That Lady Thing," a gender equality focused art installation that debuted in San Francisco last year. This year's version, at S.F.'s Phoenix Hotel, features over a dozen unique experiences including: 

• THE SHAMEBOOTH, an installation where women can enter a phone booth and record the stigma that plagues them, and thus release it by speaking it
• SMELLS LIKE TOXIC MASCULINITY, a scratch-and-sniff wallpaper display
• THE PINK TAX, a game show activation designed and created by the women at Designsake
• RAISE HER UP, a seesaw of power dynamics with a backdrop illustrated by Danna G. Windsor
• THE I SCREAM SHOPPE, a fictitious ice cream parlor where the flavor of the day is gender wage discrimination
• SEA OF OBJECTIFICATION, last year's popular breast-themed ball pit

A portion of ticket and merchandise sales will be donated to women's organizations including the National Women's Law Center.


Colle McVoy

This agency is honoring its women and the incredible impact they have every day. Efforts include:

• A takeover of all digital screens across the office for the month of March with inspirational quotes from renowned women alongside the image of an amazing agency woman.
• An IWD-inspired, specially designed set of "PREESH Cards" with compelling and quirky sayings appeared on the desks of all agency women on Friday morning. PREESH cards are the agency's signature way of showing appreciation for each other. 
• Beautifully designed printed posters across the agency to promote the program.
• A large blank canvas for everyone at the office to leave quotes, stories, signatures or affirmations to show their support for the #WomenOfCM.
• A transformation of women's bathrooms into spaces for spontaneous billboards filled with user-generated messages of encouragement, love and appreciation for each other. 


ElaN Languages

The online translation tool has introduced "the unbias button," a plug-in that translates bias words, such as job titles, into gender-neutral words. Fireman becomes firefighter, mailman becomes mail carrier, for example. Agency: J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam.


Gap

Gap created International Women's Day tees featuring the voices of inspiring women, along with a series of videos. 


Google

Google launched "Courage to Question," a VR series that brings you face to face with women’s rights activists across the globe as they fight for a world  where women and girls can live free from gender based violence. Here is the trailer: 

Google also created a Doodle for its homepage featuring quotes from more than a dozen inspiring women.


Guinness

This cool spot tells the story of rugby-playing sisters Harriet and Bridget Millar-Mills, who both play professionally—one for England and one for Scotland. 


HBO

With help from agency Mekanism, HBO created "Make a Little Trouble," a spot that uses audio of Nora Ephron's commencement address to Wellesley's Class of 1996.


K-Y

Executive producer Lauren Greenfield, best-known for the #LikeAGirl campaign, and Emmy-winning filmmaker Amy Berg teamed up to create "The Pleasure Is Mine," a docu-series for K-Y encouraging women to voice what they want/need to be satisfied sexually. The teaser launches today. This is the first major production for Greenfield's newly launched Girl Culture Films.


Lyft

Lyft is giving riders $10 off trips to places like the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington or the Harriet Tubman Memorial in New York. A video also shows Lyft board member and former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett sharing the places that made her who she is today. 


Old Navy

Old Navy wants women and girls to know the sky's the limit with its IWD campaign. Actress Lana Condor kicked off the activation with Suzanne Asbury-Oliver, the only professional female skywriter, and her go-to team Skytypers to spread sky-high words of empowerment. The retailer is also offering a limited-edition collection of International Women's Day T-shirts, featuring empowering graphics.


Paypal

PayPal got five businesswomen to discuss diversity and how to make workplaces more balanced. "We recognize that correcting gender imbalance is not simply a women's issue; it's a business issue," the brand says. 


SodaStream

SodaStream's new reusable bottle is wrapped in unbranded “SHE” packaging, which opens to reveal and celebrate stories of iconic women who have influenced our world. 


TBWA\Chiat\Day

Last year for International Women's Day, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York launched Circle of Women—a program designed to create a pipeline for growing female leaders within the agency. This year, the shop is expanding the leadership development program to include its clients, with Nissan as the first corporate partner.

"Nissan, as the first client on board, will share best practices and provide mentorship to women within the agency, while also forging partnerships with other clients within the TBWA collective and beyond," the agency says. "Working together, the two companies aspire to create a larger circle of women helping women rise across client and agency teams."


Ultimate Software

A new video, "What I Was Told," by agency Zambezi, focuses on Ultimate's culture of equality, diversity and belonging. It was directed by Academy Award-nominated director Lucy Walker.


UN Women

In partnership with Havas Group, UN Women is highlighting three women who are "Impossible to Ignore"—Amy Williams, founder of ethical advertising platform Good Loop; Dr. Christyl Johnson, NASA's first African American deputy director; and Beatie Wolfe, a singer-songwriter who has dedicated much of her life to a research study that has proved the link between music and better outcomes in dementia patients. 

Their images will appear on billboards worldwide in high-traffic spots like Times Square, JFK International Airport, the World Trade Center, Westfield London, the London Underground and railway stations across the U.K.

"Impossible to Ignore" was created for the GICC (Global Innovation Coalition for Change), an innovative partnership created by UN Women to mark the launch of its "She Innovates" program.


United Airlines

The carrier, working with agencies Laundry Service and Cycle Media, launched #HerArtHere, a contest that encourages women to submit a design idea for the side of a Boeing 757 airplane. Two winners will see their designs come to life on real planes. 

United | Her Art Here

U.S. Air Force

The Air Force and agency GSD&M created "Origin Story," a new spot showcasing the inspiring and powerful female pilots that make up the U.S. Air Force. The goal of the campaign is to inspire and recruit the next generation of Air Force pilots. 


Vans

The shoe and apparel brand has launched "Vanguards," a celebration of women skaters across the globe.


Walmart

The big-box retailer created a video highlighting "the women who make Walmart work." 

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of Clio Awards.