Today’s shoppers value authenticity, and many consumers — particularly the younger generations of millennials and Gen Zers — have gone out of their way to support companies that reflect their own values.
According to a recent study by consulting firm Accenture, 41% of shoppers in the last year have shifted their business away from brands that don’t practice inclusivity and diversity through the products the sell, their retail establishments as well as their advertising efforts.
As such, a number of companies are evolving both their internal cultures and external communications around core missions, and they have begun championing social causes, whether through LGBT-focused product releases or ad campaigns featuring a diverse roster of personalities.
“It’s time for us to put a stake in the ground with some goals around diversity and inclusion,” said Dave Powers, CEO at Deckers Brands — parent to Ugg, Hoka One One and Teva, which made this list. “So we publicly stated that one of our long-term goals is to promote diversity, gender equality, female empowerment and inclusion for all.”
Swiss luxury fashion house Bally relaunched its classic ’90s tennis sneaker in April through a campaign called “Champions Are Made.” The ad — starring actor Ncuti Gatwa, model Maeva Giani Marshall and dancer Matthew Ball — centered on the celebrations that define individuals, such as Gatwa’s acclaimed performance as Eric Effiong in Netflix’s “Sex Education,” the beautifully freckled Marshall and Ball’s physical endurance. The sneaker brand’s original Champion shoe was a favorite among tennis stars including Jakob Hlasek and Marc Rosset, with the update released in the classic pop colors of the decade.
Also in April, Crocs gave its “Come as You Are” campaign — which already features brand ambassadors Zooey Deschanel and Natalie Dormer — a truly global marketing push. The clog-maker added to its roster Chinese actress, dancer and model Gina Jin; South Korean actress and Gugudan girl-band member Kim Se-Jeong; and Japanese actress and model Suzu Hirose for the yearlong endeavor. Additionally, the company is on the lookout for a 2019 Crocs Fan Ambassador who can demonstrate how he or she wears Crocs and embraces the brand’s “Come As You Are” messaging.
In his first multimedia campaign as Louis Vuitton’s men’s artistic director, Virgil Abloh made it a goal to explore “ideas of individual perception and evolvement through lenses of inclusivity.” Thus, his spring ’19 marketing efforts were executed in three phases: The first, “Infancy, Childhood and Adolescence,” served as an ongoing study of boyhood and the development of a man’s identity, with a cast of toddlers, preteens and teenagers. The next was inspired by French artist Gustave Courbet’s “The Painter’s Studio,” reimagined by Mohamed Bourouissa; instead of capturing the elite as Courbet did, Bourouissa’s take sent a message of diversity, inclusivity and unity. Lastly, “School Teens” depicted teenagers in groups, each clad in a bright T-shirt — reminiscent of Abloh’s spring ’19 show in which 1,500 students formed the colors of a rainbow — to communicate the idea of belonging without losing individuality.
In the latest installment of its “Just Do It” campaign, the Swoosh delivered a message of diversity, inclusivity and female empowerment. The ad, titled “Dream With Us” and released in mid-May, featured a number of professional and amateur athletes, including the members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, gymnast Gabrielle Douglas and 13-year-old soccer star Olivia Moultrie. “Can you be the generation that ends gender inequality?” narrator and Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis asked. “Or will you show that champions in your sport can also look like you?”
Under new parent Authentic Brands Group, Nine West kicked off a campaign in February aimed at supporting and empowering women through bonds of sisterhood. For its spring ’19 collections, the brand modeled its new footwear and accessories on three diverse pairs of women: sisters Laura and Nathalie Love (co-founder of the We the Women Collective); models and best friends Akiima Ajak and Elizabeth Ayodele; and mother-and-daughter winemakers Melinda Kearney and Michele Ouellet. Shot by Australian-born photographer Emma Summerton, the ad ran globally, with print, digital, out-of-home, social and influencer activations.
In January, Stuart Weitzman launched its spring ’19 campaign, #SWWomen — an ode to the strength of women and the freedom to be authentically themselves. Starring in the four-part series were American model Kendall Jenner, singer Willow Smith, British model and Chinese actress Yang Mi — all of whom were outfitted in a nude palette, symbolizing the brand’s return to its core values of fashion, functionality and fit. Photographed by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, the images depict comfort and confidence in each model’s shoes, as well as designs for women of different lifestyles and cultural backgrounds.
Last week, Teva debuted its limited-edition Flatform Universal Pride sandal — releasing just in time for the 50th anniversary the Stonewall Uprising, which launched the annually celebrated Pride Month each June. Working with a local nonprofit in Santa Barbara, Calif., the brand cast several transgender models in a vibrant photo shoot that celebrated their unique stories and style. In support of the LGBTQ+ community, Teva will donate a portion of sales to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, funding scholarships for LGBTQ+ youth to attend summer camps that help develop self-confidence and leadership abilities in a safe environment.
Watch the highlights at the 2018 FNAAs.
Marketing Plays: May 2019
Five Top Marketing Campaigns in 2018