Top 7 Picks for 2013’s Best Branded Content for Women

It’s that time of the year when everyone is making annual “best of” lists.  Well, not wanting to feel left out, I was compelled to compile one for marketing to women.

My criteria to make the list was pretty simple:

  1. Is it insightful?
  2. Does it compel people to want to share, and in doing so spark a conversation?
  3. Does it advance a brand’s purpose (i.e. why a brand exists to make lives better for the people it serves)?

7. Coke Life “To Love Somebody”

Now only in Argentina, Coke Life is a more “natural” version of Coke (lower calorie and sweetened with plant-based Stevia).  As the brand name implies, Coke Life’s brand purpose is enhance the “best parts of life”.  This film perfectly captures one of them—-becoming a parent.  But it does it so authentically and honestly with the insight I call the “Parenting Paradox”.  If you talk to a parent (or you are one) you know that a conversation about kids swings by the second from “they’re my greatest joy” to “they drive me crazy”.  While the paradox can never truly be resolved,  (even by a big global brand like Coke) fortunately, for the survival of the human race, on balance they’re more blessing than curse.


6. Special K “Fight Fat Talk”

Given the increasing pressure to be Hollywood-thin, it really isn’t too surprising that recent research shows 93% of women engage in “fat talk”.  What is wonderful is that Special K has brought “fat talk” into the light and are getting women to admit to it, talk about it (#fightfattalk) and see it for what it is…a self-sabotaging and defeating enemy to success.


5. HelloFlo “Camp Gyno”

Beyond the branded content, I really admire how this new business, HelloFlo, has addressed a true need.  No matter how old you are or how many times you do it, it is embarrassing to buy tampons and maxi pads.  And as any mother of a girl will tell you, you’re never quite prepared to have “the talk” with your daughter.  With HelloFlo’s mail-order “period starter kit”, and on-going-cycle-specific home delivery, this brand is truly making women’s and girls lives better (or at least less embarrassing).  So to launch this insightful business concept with this equally insightful short-film about a power-hungry, brutally honest tween that’s been foiled by HelloFlo is nothing short of brilliant.


4. Elevation Church “New Perspectives”

This touching Mother’s Day 2013 tribute should be seen by every mom, and the insight behind it known by every brand marketing to moms.  In my work with LeoShe, we discovered the #1 “motherhood gap” (i.e. things moms think it takes to be a great mom but that she thinks she’s failing in) is building close relationships with her kids.  Things like “spending time getting to know them at a deep level”, “really listening to them”, “making them feel special”.  As you’ll see in this film, while moms focus on self-doubt, all the kids see is the relationship they have with a beautiful, attentive hero—Mom.


3. Pantene “Labels”

Does gender bias still exist?  While this ad was created for Pantene in the Philippines, to date it has over 11 million views on YouTube.  Always a global beauty care powerhouse, with this film Pantene elevates the brand from simply “shiny hair” to having a human purpose of “boldly shining without limits”.  By highlighting the issue of double standards and the practice of “labeling” (even if unconsciously or unspoken) they are sparking millions of conversations on Twitter and Facebook around the world.


2. Dove “Real Beauty Sketches”

As the #2 viewed ad on YouTube in 2013 with over 60 million views (#1 is Evian’s “Baby and Me”), this clearly struck a chord with women around the world.   I’ve had hundreds of conversations with women about the topic of beauty, and they told me again and again how they can so easily and readily see the beauty in their friends, but not in themselves.  In fact, Dove’s most recent research, The Real Truth about Beauty Revisited, revealed that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful.  And only 11% of girls 11-17 feel comfortable using the term beautiful to describe their looks.  I applaud Dove for this work, and at the same time I see massive opportunity for more brands to help democratize beauty and broaden it’s definition to include happiness, wisdom, wellness and beyond.


1. “Beauty Sketches Men”

Okay, okay, this is not truly branded content, but a parody of my number two choice.  It makes me laugh every time.  I actually think this could have worked as branded content for Dove (or another beauty brand).  Sometimes it takes seeing how men are so wonderfully liberated from body image obsession to shake us women into easing up a bit on ourselves.

Yes, women have a sense of humor! You wouldn’t know it by spending a few hours consuming a large sampling of marketing to women. In fact, hundreds of women have told me that their sense of humor is their #1 coping strategy to get through life—especially the tough, stressful, tension-filled parts.  (“If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry.”)

And with women, self-deprecating, story-based humor can be powerful.  Humor can be especially effective in breaking the tension with emotional topics, adding freshness to the mundane or lightning up categories that feel like burdens.

So, moving into 2014 consider using humor to engage women.  Go for being funnier.  (Or at least being less serious).    Enjoy!