JWT’s AnxietyIndex is designed as a place to discuss how brands and consumers are responding to the global recession. With daily content updates, AnxietyIndex.com includes contributions from around JWT’s network, offering a truly global perspective.
Targeting Americans who aren’t currently gym-goers, the chain Planet Fitness aims to soothe the anxieties of everyday shlubs who feel out of their element at the gym. It promises a “Judgement Free Zone,” described as a “safe, energetic environment, where everyone feels accepted and respected.” And its “no lunks” policy forbids overly macho behaviors like grunting and weight-dropping, with offenders asked to leave. This year Planet Fitness introduced the line “No Gymtimidation” in its messaging, with commercials that mock fanatics and other intimidating types.
The most recent iteration of the campaign, “No Pintimidation,” was inspired by a study that found that 42 percent of American mothers are stressed out by images on Pinterest. “Who can live up to all this pinned perfection?” asks the campaign microsite, which offers to “de-pintimidate” any overly intimidating images. The site adorns images that users upload with an overlay of whimsical patterns, cats, flowers, etc. Given the primacy of images on the Web these days, it’s a smart way to keep building the brand’s down-to-earth, fun and informal persona.
We’re all well aware of how demoralizing unrealistic depictions of beauty can be for women, since we’ll never be as flawless as the airbrushed and Photoshopped images we see everywhere. This is one reason behind some of the startling statistics about women and self-image—for example, one study (cited by Dove) found that only 4 percent of women feel they’re beautiful. Two new campaigns are encouraging women to take an active role in shifting the status quo.
Dove has been a longstanding opponent of unrealistic imagery, with its “Campaign for Real Beauty.” In the campaign’s latest iteration, the personal care brand undertakes an “Ad Makeover” on Facebook, aimed at eliminating negative marketing messages that play on women’s insecurities. A Dove app allows women to replace these taunting ads with feel-good messages such as “The perfect bum is the one you’re sitting on.” Dove is also offering the opportunity to be featured on a living billboard as part of its Show Us Your Skin promotion; women can upload photos that will be projected in bustling Times Square and on Dove’s websites.
Athletic brand Under Armour is also on a mission to showcase more positive images of womanhood, with its “What’s Beautiful” campaign. As an Under Armour marketing exec told Marketing Daily, “What we get really frustrated with is advertisers who talk about beauty in terms of how you look, not what you are made of.” In a manifesto spot that shows women athletes working hard, the voiceover proclaims that it’s time to take power back “from the marketers who want us to look Photoshopped, from the magazines who want us topless, from the people who think we should be happy just the way we are.”
These marketers, along with some others such as Thailand’s Oriental Princess, stand out in a category that has historically relied on generating anxiety in women. Taking the opposite approach, these messages give power back to women, helping them to feel more comfortable in their own skin and begin redefining what it means to feel beautiful and sexy.