I am sure most of you will have already read about or watched Under Armour’s latest film featuring the ballerina Misty Copeland. It is an incredible success for the brand, and an illustration of the power of the human spirit over discrimination. Overtly, Under Armour is trying to attract women by appealing to common feelings of rejection and inadequacy felt by females everywhere, and the victory which we all want to experience in our lives and hope to celebrate.
A part of me feels that any media or campaign that attempts to reveal truths does good. The female struggle is not new. Women have been dealing with issues of role, physical beauty, and their value and worth for a really long time. On the other hand, I also feel that issues regarding gender are being exploited for their ability to create buzz. Women’s issues are so hot right now. I am sure editors everywhere have access to data that lists the topics that will earn them the most pageviews, which explains the volume. How many articles have I read about whether women can ‘have it all’? I, myself, am a moth to such a flame.
But there will come a time where media will have taken advantage of the conversation, we will have achieved a point of saturation, and brands will look to capitalize on the next big thing. To quote Gang Starr, “You and I are the past, cést la vie, much respect girl, but now you’re my ex-girl cuz I’m on with the next girl”. Will women feel hard done by? I think not. There are enough of us to continue the conversation elsewhere, and I am sure the topic will make a cyclical comeback. It is said that ‘dads’ will be the next marketing demographic to target. A neglected group who don’t receive much recognition.
Successful campaigns in the future will acknowledge the true human condition. Not a projection of what we would like our stories to be, but the ugly-beautiful experience that is life. And the only way to create an authentic reflection is to source stories from real people and real experiences. This is how I feel about myself. This is how I feel about the world. And this is how I feel the world sees me.
Any brand that manages to balance the fine line between advertising, awareness and authenticity, will experience incredible degrees of exposure because of our innate human desire to be seen and understood for who and what we really are. Where a brand fits into this narrative is the challenge. What a brand ‘says’ has to be aligned to the authentic message and it will have to find that unique story which it resonates with. That requires courage from both the storyteller and the brand, and I think this explains what Under Armour has done so successfully with Misty Copeland.