There’s been a lot of talk lately about brands and authenticity as several high-profile campaigns have performed poorly or been outright rejected, including Pepsi’s attempt at social commentary (which Heineken nailed) and Dove’s latest attempt to appeal to a more diverse set of women.
The latter flopped in part because it seemed to stray from the tone Dove’s ads had in the past, per The Washington Post:
“It’s straight-up off-brand,” said Samantha Skey, president of digital media company She Knows Media. “It’s a change in tone for Dove, from ads that are almost painfully sincere and earnest, to something that could literally be a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit. Unless you’re trying to mock everything you stand for, I’m not sure why you would do this.”
So how can other women’s brands reach their audience in a way that lets that audience know they’re sincere? One way to live to that brand value through messaging, top to bottom and even out to influencers, like women’s activewear brand Oiselle is.
Designed by and for women, they’ve made smart choices with their summer campaigns and choice of influencers to work with, including Kelly Roberts of Run, Selfie, Repeat who writes a lot about not seeing women that look like her in athletic advertising and in losing her insecurities enough to run in a sports bra when it’s hot outside.
— Kelly Roberts (@KellyKKRoberts) May 23, 2017
The values she holds and articulates as an influencer are echoed by Oiselle’s co-founder and CEO, who started a conversation on Twitter about how body-shaming words can hurt and haunt, which Kelly and many other women joined in on:
"You look so skinny! You look beautiful!" My Irish dance teacher to 16 year old me after I'd spent a month starving myself for competition. https://t.co/tTUrgTQHJ1
— Kelly Roberts (@KellyKKRoberts) May 25, 2017
The bottom line? You can’t fake this kind of understanding of and connection with your audience and the difference is obvious when you see it in action. Fans and followers of Oiselle wouldn’t be interested in a typical “summer body” branded campaign. They’re interested in getting vulnerable and discussing difficult subjects, and the brand knows that because the people behind the brand face the same issues and struggles.
Oiselle also backs up this ethos with social outreach that makes sense for their brand, working with projects like Girl On The Run (an after school program to empower girls through running) and even creating their own program to give away free sports bras to girls (GOT or Girls On Track).
The lesson for other brands? Don’t try to fake it because consumers will call you out. Find what it is you honestly have in common with your audience and then how you can best communicate that not just to them, but with them.