Vodafone: Connected She Can
International Women’s Day is here and, along with the moving tributes, political stances and inevitable Twitter jokes, there is always the curious question of what brands ought to do on a day like this.
Different brands have responded to this question in different ways. For its International Women’s Day campaign Vodafone has released two ads – ‘Connect’, which is airing internationally, and ‘ReConnect’, aimed at the UK – both of which highlight the lives of women, struggling, triumphing and everything in between.
The brand is also reaffirming its commitment to the gender gap on International Women’s Day with a number of country-specific programmes around the world.
United under the #ConnectedSheCan hashtag, the ‘Connect’ ad begins with a woman harvesting a crop, underlined by the subtitle: “People thought she couldn’t start a business here”. Shortly after, she receives a text reassuring her she’ll receive the market price. Vodafone’s message is simple: strong communication helps women succeed.
This dynamic plays out over several scenes. We see young women teaching themselves to read in difficult circumstances, creating their own businesses and kickstarting social movements. Each time, the simple value of strong links is underlined, as business deals are forged or friendships maintained through the text messages featured on screen.
In this way, Vodafone uses its profile to celebrate International Women’s Day, outlining its own contribution to the advancement of women, but crucially without making it all about them.
Let’s compare this to some of other major’s offerings for the day. While P&G go for a general sweep with its ‘We See Equal’ campaign, charity ONE’s ‘Every Girl’ goes the stunt route, using user-submitted video to count up to 130,000,000, the number of girls worldwide not receiving primary education. Elsewhere, fashion brand Benetton provides a stirring manifesto in ‘United By Half’, showing that there’s more than one way for brands to engage with social causes.
For instance, one of the most intriguing concepts is ‘Woman Interrupted’, an app created by ad agency BETC which records the number of times men interrupt women during conversation.
Gimmicky or not, these campaigns can have a broad reach when they’re done right. One of Vodafone’s unique features is its second campaign, ‘Reconnect’.
The Reconnect Programme is a new scheme from Vodafone and Women Returners that supports UK women with reintegration coaching after career breaks. This is an underexplored area of gender dynamics in the workplace, and the campaign’s focus is an encouraging sign for this conversation.
In conclusion, advertising campaigns are not (nor should they be) the be-all-and-end-all of International Women’s Day.
However, with campaigns like ‘Connect’ and ‘ReConnect’, Vodafone demonstrate that it’s more than possible to produce simple, uncynical spots which make a social point loud and clear, while also taking action.