What Can Marketers Learn From Fearless Girl?

By Raffi Mark, Associate Director, Live Marketer, FAST, Mindshare North America

By Raffi Mark, Associate Director, Live Marketer, FAST, Mindshare North America

This past March, in honor of International Women’s Day, a statue appeared near Wall Street in New York. This statue depicted a young women standing defiantly and bravely facing the famous Wall Street Bull. This media activation was meant to achieve three key goals for State Street: Generate conversation and media buzz; develop an association between the brand and one of their core beliefs (gender diversity and equality); bring a meaningful, emotional activation to an often functional and product-oriented category.

In this session, the brand, creative agency, and media team all shared the work that went into creating the Fearless Girl from ideation, to physical creation, and reaction. Hearing this discussion highlighted the great successes as well as the opportunities for improvement that can be learned.

Start With Successes

The brand began with an understanding of what they were trying to achieve. There was an understanding that they were not just creating a media/marketing activation and it was not just a stunt, but rather an expression of brand values. This activation allowed them to enter into a public discourse on women in leadership and business; an area that they had previously not been associated with, despite philosophical and corporate alignment with the idea. One important takeaway from this panel was the idea that it is important to begin with a big idea and allow that to lead to a media mix. With this at their core, they were able to create an Out of Home activation through sculpture rather than a digital video or print ad.

The next success was in developing the creative with an understanding that we live in a social world. The statue, the positioning, and the level of branding all allowed for social sharing without feeling like it was “too branded.” The reach was much farther than the bullseye target of the brand, allowing them to keep overall branding light in favor of the core value of the activation.

Once the statue was unveiled, and news began to pick up, they made a decision to remain silent on challenges and public discourse around the statue. There was unanimous agreement that, in hindsight, that was the correct course of action. It kept the brand associated with the initial activation and not any possible backlash or petty social debates.

What Can We Learn?

The biggest takeaway from hearing this panel was the missed opportunity following the revelation of the statue. While the activation was intentionally designed as a standalone activation and not a campaign in its own right, there was continuous media coverage and social conversation that did not include the brand. The media team on stage commented on the nightly calls where the teams began to develop action plans for the next day and debate what should and should not be done. For me, having worked on media activations with real-time applications, I understood the stress of seeing an opportunity and not knowing how to react. However, through Mindshare’s Planning for Agility process, in advance of major activations, events, or brand moments, we are able to identify potential opportunities and align in advanced on action plans going forward. This systematic approach to agility allows for a thoughtful and meaningful expansion of an activation and to continue the movement of a moment like the Fearless Girl through intentional, tactical, and meaningful media plans.