11 June 2019 General News

Fit doesn’t equal thin

It’s easy to criticise brands for commercialising social justice. Popping a rainbow flag on a cupcake to “show support” or driving a female empowerment marketing strategy makes great fodder for those who are hyper-critical of commercialisation or those people for whom the issue is never addressed.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a long way to go until we see women truly represented in City institutions or until the LGBT community can live without fear of prejudice, but don’t  you think that brands getting behind these issues can do a great deal to drive the message home?

I have spent years helping some of the world’s most disruptive ideas get off the ground, driving PR for brilliant start-ups and great tech innovation. It’s hard to drive mainstream awareness of something that’s niche, not relevant to the public right now or simply “someone else’s problem”. It takes millions of marketing dollars and a team of the most creative minds to deliver PR and marketing that really captures global attention. How many social causes and activist groups can access these budgets and find these minds?  Very few I’m sure.

Nike’s new “plus-size” in store mannequins may be designed as a publicity stunt but that doesn’t make it disgraceful, damaging or exploitative. The resulting advertising, media coverage and conversations – 20 minutes in our agency this morning – they’re important. Fit doesn’t equal thin and thin doesn’t equal fit. Holding up unachievable body stereotypes for fitness clothing won’t get those who struggle with weight and fitness levels to exercise more. Yet is this critical journalist really interested in discussing both sides? Or are they more concerned with the click-inducing headline? Or perhaps this is a very successful attempt to stimulate the conversation through controversy?

Progressive values may be the new marketing trend but it’s a trend that’s driving the conversation forward and that’s what counts. Some will create beautiful mind-changing work, others scrappy bandwagon chasing ideas, but we’re talking about it and in doing so, we are helping to educate minds and shape thinking, and that’s the very brilliant thing!

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