International Day of the Girl: Two years on, 'Like a Girl' still has something to teach communicators

Two years after it launched, P&G's Like A Girl is still being cited as a great campaign; I was wondering what makes that work so evocative, that it hangs around in our consciousness when other campaigns, award-winning or not, just fade away.

'Like a girl' is not just good work, it's important work, argues Ruth Yearley
'Like a girl' is not just good work, it's important work, argues Ruth Yearley

The reason this campaign is so effective, is because it isn’t just good work, it is important work. It taps into our psyche by brilliantly expressing elemental truths about girls, daughters, fledgling women.

Today, as we mark International Day of the Girl, it seems a great opportunity to think about how important girls are as a societal force.

Let’s start off getting our nomenclature right.

All too often the term "girl" is used as a diminutive, a term to undermine. It is used to refer to or address young women or worse, groups of fully grown women who are fully mature and do NOT play with dolls.

But here we are talking about actual girls – those bundles of optimism and energy and sass and smarts that are pre-pubescent females.

Girls are the future. This is the generation that could really make a difference.

Coming through the workplace now are a generation of women who are the mothers of young children (both boys and girls) and while these mothers are still fighting the good fight for recognition and inclusion and equality and while they are still hitting against the glass ceiling and struggling with the gender pay gap; they are laying the foundations to make sure that the next generation do not.

This isn’t just how they raise their girl children, but also how they raise their boys to be more feminist men.

A factor that has to be acknowledged when thinking about girls is the fragility of girl energy.

Whatever our gender, we all recognise that something happens as girls transition to women – something is lost, the confidence, the tenacity, the fierceness.

We all understand that by the time girls get to teenage years it may be too late for them; they may have already been undermined by societal pressures.

So it is important to harness that confidence and potential that is present in girl children.

We must embrace it and celebrate it to make sure we have a strong and capable and empowered next generation of women.

As communicators it is our job to think about representation.

Girls are no different to any other audience – they want to see authentic stories told about themselves and authentic and relatable representations of themselves.

And they do not. They see cute pretty flawless girls and Disney princesses.

So it is important for our industry to think about how we represent these proto-women and the effect it will have on them as they grow up.

Another thing we should think about as marketers, is that if we strike the right tone with little girls, if you empower and include them, we will automatically impress and get the hearts and minds of their mothers, who were little girls themselves once and are now the most powerful buying force in the global economy.

It is so important that we harness the confidence and potential in girls in order to make sure we have a strong and capable and empowered next generation of women.

Girls are our future.

Ruth Yearley is director of insights and strategy at Ketchum

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