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Women-led marketing key to connecting with the “she-economy”

Inflation and fears of a global recession are hitting households and businesses alike as consumers rein in spending. Women are increasingly recognised as the drivers of consumer spending, a trend that is on the rise. For brands competing in an increasingly constrained environment, it is rapidly becoming an imperative to position their offerings to these key decision makers.

As a female-run global communications and marketing agency, IMA is passionate about working with brands to connect with the so-called “she-economy” in an innovative and authentic manner. The recent “I’m Possible” campaign for global sportwear brand adidas is a case in point. 

Talking to women. By women.

Created to coincide with the release of a new adidas range of women’s sportwear, the retail-led “I’m Possible” content series was showcased on both adidas and Totalsports channels and stores.

In conceptualising and executing the campaign, IMA’s approach was to let the stories of women overcoming adversity come to the fore, no mean feat in the male-dominated world of sport. This was achieved by bringing female decision makers from the brand, agency and production crew together to create a meaningful vehicle for connection.

The client was adidas, with trade marketing manager Nakita Koch in the driving seat. The female creative and project team at marketing agency, IMA was guided by Managing Partner Katherine Freemantle. All brought to life by a women-strong production crew from woman-owned Butterfly Films. But the undoubted stars of the show were the profiled sportswomen whose gritty and memorable stories were captured in the four-part content series.

‘Together this amazing team were able to deliver a best-in-class content campaign, pushing the boundaries of the conventional sports narrative,’ says Freemantle. ‘It was brave, a commercial and trade-focused piece that carries a really strong brand and women narrative.’ 

A winning approach

With more than 16 000 video impressions achieved to date and over 14 000 accounts reached, the success of the “I’m Possible” campaign reflects the fact that women’s sport is finally coming into its own. Like the rising tide of women leaders making their mark in business, politics and society, women in sport are increasingly finding their own unique voice.

After years of fighting for recognition, women athletes such as those highlighted in this campaign are attracting interest and sponsorships, at times even eclipsing their male counterparts when it comes to audience numbers. The recent Commonwealth Games marked the first time that more medals at the event were awarded to women than men. Women’s month gimmicks no longer carry sufficient weight. Instead, empowered female consumers are looking for meaningful content that spans social media platforms, video, digital channels, blogs, instore channels and high-quality visuals.

Adidas consumers clearly resonated with the stories of South African “fitfluencer” Mapule Ndhlovu and her gutsy take on life: ‘Where some people see barriers, I see opportunities.’ They were enthralled by high-energy Krump dancer Ashlyn Erasmus and hockey sensation Quanita Bobbs. While the story of Pride Fighting Academy, standing strong and building a community in a highly male-centred sport, showed the camaraderie among today’s female sporting heroes exemplified by this motto: “No matter what we’re going through we show up for each other every day.”

The featured athletes threw themselves into this project with a passion that shines through, says Freemantle. ‘They were great to work with and game for everything.’

While adidas and the featured sportswomen were the stars, Freemantle says it took a diverse team of women to really get into the marrow of these stories and to understand how best to position and showcase female talent in a genuine and original manner. The result was a campaign that truly celebrates women, using their words and their inspiring stories. It’s an approach more brands should be following if they hope to attract the influential woman consumer.

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