strong womenWith International Women’s Day just behind us, it seems like a good time to take a look at some of the best women-empowering social campaigns.  I was particularly drawn to those with real staying power, that go beyond ‘holiday promotion’ and demonstrate more of a commitment by the brand to effect real change.

Central to many of these campaigns is the impact our choice of words has on girls’ self-images.  Equally striking is how brands use powerful storytelling – often in her own voice – to bring the issues to light and help change the conversation.

Road to Success

Through its 5by20 initiative, Coca-Cola is committed to “‘Building Stronger Businesses, Families and Communities One Woman at a Time” by providing them with tools, financial services, training and mentoring. Having reached more 300,000 women since its 2010 launch, the goal is to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2020. The site features first person accounts by some of these successes, women like Candy Ramirez, a hardworking Latina entrepreneur who owns and runs Candy’s Cakes & More, a bakery in Tucson, Arizona.

cindy ramirez

STEM the Tide

There are currently 3 million unfilled Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs in the U.S. – with a job growth rate outpacing the rest of the economy by a whopping 300%. Demand for these knowledge workers has spurred many brands, education orgs, and government agencies to actively encourage young students, especially girls who are woefully underrepresented, to pursue technical studies.

girl verizon

Verizon’s “Inspire Her Mind” tells the story of a young girl growing up and illustrates how day-to-day language surreptitiously discourages her from exploring her math abilities and curiosity in science. The call to action for viewers is to change the conversation – much like the vaunted #LikeAGirl movement promotes on a broader level, challenging girls to ‘rewrite the rules.’  And it’s having an impact.

An Adweek article reported that brand-commissioned study showed that “after watching the video, 76% of young women aged 16 to 24 report that they no longer view the phrase ‘like a girl’ as an insult.”

In addition to redefining “Like a Girl” to mean something positive and amazing,  Always is partnering with Lean In and Girl Scouts of America to #Ban Bossy – a word that often hinders girls from asserting themselves and stepping in to leadership roles.


Lemonade, anyone?

While conceptually promising, Mattel’s  eBook “Barbie: I Can Be An Engineer” took a decidedly disheartening turn in execution, depicting the iconic doll needing the help of two male colleagues to salvage her development project. Beyond the immediate backlash and subsequent corporate apology, the errant eBook also spawned a series of grassroots efforts to turn lemons into lemonade.

On Feminist Hacker Barbie, visitors can literally rewrite the book – selecting a page, reviewing the original copy and hacking away to “help Barbie be the competent, independent, bad-ass engineer she wants to be.”


In an earlier blog, I cited Andrew Davis’ ‘moments of inspiration’ that spark great stories; they’re evocative, bigger than you, foster aspiration and inspire action.  By those measures, these brands succeed on many levels.


Cheryl Treleaven

Cheryl Treleaven


Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.