How brands are marking International Women’s Day 2023

From Durex’s ‘orgasm gap’ stunt to Amazon’s efforts to support woman-owned small businesses, here’s how seven brands are engaging with International Women’s Day this year.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD), which takes place today (8 March), is ‘Embrace Equity’. The campaign calls upon businesses and individuals to think beyond equal opportunities and understand that people come from varying circumstances, meaning they need different resources and opportunities to reach equal outcomes.

There’s no doubt some progress has been made in the representation of women and their opportunities in the workplace over the last decade, but significant barriers and inequalities remain.

The gender pay gap remains a persistent issue across all industries, for example, including marketing. The gender wage gap actually widened in marketing this year, finds the 2023 Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey. On average female marketers working full time are paid 16.5% less than their male counterparts, up from 12.6% in 2022.

To put the Marketing Week statistics into context, data published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in October puts the UK’s national gender pay gap for full-time employees at 8.3% in April 2022, up from 7.7% in April 2021.

Meanwhile, an analysis of 10,000 ads by creative excellence platform CreativeX reveals that while ads featured 34% more women than men over the last two years, portrayals of women in traditional domestic or family settings more than doubled in 2022, rising to 66%.

The percentage of women portrayed in professional settings decreased by nearly two thirds, from 16% in 2021 to just 7% in 2022. Across all ads, women with darker skin tones featured 80% less than women with the lightest skin tones.

With progress still needed, IWD sees a flurry of activity from brands, ranging from campaigns, to charity partnerships, to social media activations. Here’s how seven brands are marking the day this year.

Durex stunt exposes the ‘orgasm gap’

Sexual health brand Durex is drawing on its expertise for its own IWD campaign, as it highlights the “orgasm gap” between sexually active men and women in the UK.

According to research carried out by Opinium, sexually active women are four times less likely to say they always orgasm than men. To draw attention to this issue, Durex hosted a London football game screening ahead of this year’s IWD, disrupting it at “climactic moments”, such as goals and free kicks.

The Reckitt-owned brand partnered with sex expert Alix Fox to carry out the stunt. A campaign for “orgasm equality” launches today, with Fox to provide tips and advice to the nation.

Amazon supports woman-owned small businesses

Amazon has held an IWD festival annually for the last few years, involving several days of activity centred around the year’s theme.

This year’s activity includes a joint campaign from Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Web Services (AWS), which focuses on inspirational women in sport. The women featured range from those behind and in front of the camera, business-side and pitch-side.

The campaign is also rolling out across Amazon’s Alexa devices. Users will be able to ask Alex to tell them about an “incredible woman” each day from today until 10 March. They will then hear about inspirational women such as computer science pioneer Ada Lovelace, and human rights lawyer Elena Gorolová.

The ecommerce giant will also turn the spotlight onto some of its woman-owned small businesses. Figures from the UN suggest in 40% of economies, women’s early-stage entrepreneurial activity is half or less than half of men’s. Amazon aims to support woman-led businesses during its festival by showcasing them on its small business storefront, giving its customers a chance to discover and purchase from these brands.

John Lewis partners with The Prince’s Trust

John Lewis has been supporting The Prince’s Trust’s ‘#ChangeAGirlsLife’ campaign to celebrate IWD this year, which helps young women facing disadvantages to build a better future for themselves.

The retailer has donated £5 towards the campaign for each of its own-brand dresses purchased online since 1 March, ending today.

LinkedIn prompts conversation about equity

While LinkedIn is often the site of much brand activity during IWD, this year the social media platform is using the day to support the advance of gender equity in the workforce with a global campaign.

Content and conversation prompts will appear on the platform throughout March, speaking to the Embrace Equity theme. Prompts will include: “Who is a woman that has influenced your career path and how?”.

Following IWD, the brand will be unlocking free LinkedIn Learning courses for the rest of the month.

In 2022, interaction (including clicks, likes and shares) with IWD content on LinkedIn rose 80% year-on-year. Some 27% more companies posted in recognition of the day too, across all industries.

Here We Flo’s giant window display

Source: Here We Flo via Brandstand Comms

As a female-founded company producing organic period and bladder care products, Here We Flo is a brand which has destigmatising women’s health at its heart.

To celebrate Women’s History Month, including IWD, the brand has launched a giant window display at Whole Foods Kensington. The display, which takes the form of a giant tampon tub, is the first from a period brand at the spot.

It forms part of Here We Flo’s wider ‘No More Period Dramas’ campaign, led by a tongue-in-cheek TV spot which aims to destigmatise conversations around periods. The campaign was shortlisted for Marketing Week’s Best Marketing Campaigns of 2022, after being identified as the most creatively effective TV ad in April by Kantar’s The Works study.

Häagen-Dazs honours ‘unsung’ female founder

Ice cream brand Häagen-Dazs is celebrating its “unsung” female founder this year, Rose Mättus. While her husband Reuben has been credited with creating the ice cream and flavours, Rose Mättus is responsible for creating the brand and business.

Her contribution is being recognised with a global rebrand across the brand’s shops and digital and social platforms, which will see the line ‘Rose Mättus, Woman Founded Business, Established 1960’ added alongside the Häagen-Dazs logo.

The brand is also conducting its biggest free scoop giveaway today, a first of its kind across its global shops. Customers will be able to get a scoop of Mättus’s favourite vanilla ice cream for free, which has been renamed as ‘Founder’s Favourite’.

The activity marks the launch of ‘The Rose Project’, an initiative pledging $100,000 (£84,400) in bursaries to support “trailblazing” women around the world. Fifty women will be picked from nominations and put forward for the opportunity to win one of five $20,000 (£16,900) grants.

Barbie encourages girls to see themselves in STEM

To provide children with access to successful female role models in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, Barbie has created one-of-a-kind dolls in the likeness of seven leaders from around the world.

These include space scientist and science educator Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, electrical engineer and Science Show host Katya Echazarreta, marine researcher and microbiologist Professor Dr Antje Boetius, and co-founder of ETU Education Li Yinuo.

Meanwhile, parent company Mattel has joined the UK chapter of the UN Women Unstereotype Alliance, as it continues to work to increase positive portrayals of women, girls and marginalised groups in advertising and communication.