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Brief Published: 12 Dec 2017

Battle of the Brands: Rethinking Femininity

SK-II vs. Avon UK

To see out the year, we're looking back at some of 2017's most impactful marketing campaigns. And, because we can, we're pitching brand competitors against one another to see who did it best.

In 2016, Procter and Gamble's skincare brand SK-II started a conversation around China's 'leftover women' (those unmarried at 27) with its Marriage Market video (see New Attitudes to Love and Sex). This summer, the brand expanded the message into other Asian markets with The Expiry Date. The dystopian ad highlights cultural expectations around Asian women marrying young by literally putting expiry dates on the wrists of newborn girls in China, Japan and South Korea – a source of increasing shame as they grow. The story ends with the dates disappearing, followed by the message: "You are more than your age. Don't let others put an expiry date on you."

In the UK, beauty giant Avon marked its sponsorship deal with the Liverpool Ladies' Football Club with Fiercely Feminine, an ad featuring the team's players that critiques society's disconnect between femininity and athleticism. The partnership is part of Avon's larger I Can Be campaign to inspire girls to achieve their ambitions. A report commissioned by Avon found that 29% of UK women believe social barriers and stereotypes placed on women have held them back.

Both brands are advocating for a shift in our perception of women's ambitions. However, SK-II's dystopian scenario drives the message home with a stronger punch.

For more on how beauty brands are challenging stereotypes for all genders, check out Empowering Beauty and Next-Gen Beauty Marketing.

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