P&G's Always Aims to Change What It Means to Be 'Like a Girl'

Latest CPG Women's Self-Esteem Effort Takes Issue With Playground Taunt

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Add one more to the growing genre of feminist-themed videos from packaged-goods brands bucking up the self esteem of girls and women.

Procter & Gamble Co.'s Always today is launching "Like a Girl," a video by Lauren Greenfield, Sundance Film Festival award-winning creator of "The Queen of Versailles," that takes issue with generations of playground taunts about people running, throwing or fighting "like a girl." It asks: "When did doing something 'like a girl' become an insult?"

It's the first of what Always Brand Director Amanda Hill hopes will be a long-running campaign to change what "like a girl" means, as well as build loyalty to her brand.

In the video, adults -- and a kid brother -- are asked to show what it looks like to run, fight or throw like a girl. They make feeble and stereotyped efforts. Then, pre-pubescent girls are asked to do the same thing, making confident, serious efforts at each. The message: Girls' confidence plunges during puberty, and "Always wants to change that."

The video borrows or riffs on elements that have become mainstays of packaged-goods viral videos over the past decade.

P&G rival Unilever's Dove has been on a mission to improve the confidence of girls and women about their looks for 10 years with the Campaign for Real Beauty.

P&G's Pantene entered the cause last year with a video from BBDO in the Philippines, championed by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and expanded globally, that showed how the same behavior by men and women is viewed differently by society. Pantene followed that up last week with a video by Grey, New York, looking at how often women apologize needlessly and advising them to stop.

The Always effort is different from the others in part because it focuses specifically on puberty, Ms. Hill said, describing it as a natural outgrowth of her brand's 30-year-old efforts in puberty education, but now going beyond just the physical aspect of girls getting their first period.

Brand-commissioned research found half of girls report a drop in confidence after their first period. "We felt strongly we needed to do something about it," Ms. Hill said. "Really the goal is to turn the phrase 'like a girl' from being an insult to being a real compliment and boost to self-confidence. We're hoping we can really start a movement."

Along the way, of course, the goal is also to build loyalty to the brand, which makes a particularly big difference in a category with high loyalty rates and where women often stay for with the brand they start using as girls.

"When we shared this idea with young girls, four out of five of them said, 'Yes, this makes complete sense that Always would be connected in a movement that would change the perception of the phrase 'like a girl'."

The recent viral success of Hello Flo, a subscription e-commerce startup that sells P&G feminine-care products in kits for girls having their first periods, Ms. HIll said, is also a sign that "the category is one that's worth talking about."

Leading the Always effort is Leo Burnett offices in Chicago, Toronto and London (including Holler), with support from its Publicis Groupe siblings MSL Group on PR and Starcom MediaVest Group in media. The effort is backed by paid media as well as social sharing, Ms. Hill said.

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