When social marketing goes wrong and feminist fairytales

I always love a good advertising story, and there have been a number of good ones lately.First, Kellogg’s UK branch recently apologized after tweeting, “1 RT = 1 breakfast for a vulnerable child.”

The Twittersphere quickly responded with comments like, “Kellogg’s if you have the ability to feed children in need then DO IT.” And, “Promote our brand or the kids stay hungry. Stay classy Kellogg’s.” I love this.

Frankly, I’m not too surprised by the original tweet. It’s common for companies to have “vote for your favorite non-profit” competitions, or to do similar “matching gift” type campaigns. I wouldn’t be surprised to have a tweet like this receive no negative response.
So, I love the fact that it did.
Social marketing can be a powerful tool for companies and can be great for our communities. There are, I believe, many businesses who genuinely want to make the world better and synergy between these companies and their cause can be powerful.
But there are also plenty of companies who only use social marketing a tool to support their bottom line. So it’s good to stay skeptical. Just feed the kids, Kellogg’s.
Also this week, an all-female Catholic college-prep academy in Kentucky launched a brilliant new ad campaign.
The fairytale inspired campaign has ads like, “You’re not a princess, but you can still rule the world.” “Don’t wait for a prince, be able to rescue yourself.” And “Mirror, mirror on the wall, be more than just the fairest of them all.”
I find there is often a tension between the concepts of “feminist” and “princess.”
I hear this a lot from parents of girls. How do you support a young girl’s obsession with all things “princess” while raising her to be strong and independent? How do you let her explore her interests without having those interests be entirely dictated by gender norms? How do you not accidentally send the message that “princess” is bad?
For me, these ads manage to embrace both concepts. The fairytale inspired imagery is very princess-y. But the images and the words show strength and intelligence.
Be a princess if that’s what you’re into. Or don’t be if that’s not what you’re into. But either way, be smart, tough, and capable of totally ruling the world.
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