As 2017 wrapped up, Adweek ranked the top 10 ads of the year with several incredible brands included on the list. Among them, Heinz was mentioned for utilizing the “Pass the Heinz” tagline, which might be familiar to you (Mad Men anyone?) and the NY Times “Truth is Hard” campaign, which was extremely relevant given the all of the talk of fake news.
Coming in as the top ad of 2017 is Fearless Girl, created by McCann for State Street Global Advisors (SSGA). The bronze statue was placed in front of Wall Street’s Charging Bull on the morning of International Women’s Day. She was meant to symbolize power in female leadership and more specifically, that companies with women in these leaderships positions perform better financially.
All New Yorkers heard of the statue that very first morning. I was intrigued and impressed with the meaning of the statue and thought to myself, it’d be cool to get a photo of the statue whenever the crowds died down. It’s a defiant, powerful piece of art that I wanted to see in person and also capture (I’m a trendy New Yorker, right). Little did I know (shame on me for not doing my research) that there was more to this statue. The campaign called for more than 3,500 other companies that SSGA works with to take steps to increase the number of females on their boards.
The initial Fearless Girl statue placement was intended to be a stunt and it got the immediate coverage to go viral. It was talked about, but how many people actually knew about the full meaning and intention of the statue? What are the chances that someone who posts their photo of the statue will also do extra research of this cause? After receiving permission to become a permanent fixture in NYC, my concern is that it will become just another stop on the Big Bus Tour. The ultimate meaning may get lost amongst the crowds and next “cool” thing.
In October, SSGA had to pay $5 million for allegedly underpaying women and minorities (insert eye roll here). Luckily, SSGA put out a reasonable statement about the issue that put any doubts of the Fearless Girl’s validity to rest. I wish this could be an indication of whats to come with other companies reviewing all of their practices related to compensation, hiring, and promotions but who’s to say with so many other things going on.
McCann was clever that this statue attracts all kinds of people from all kinds of places – the potential for change is huge. In reality, if this becomes just another trendy photo opp, it may only be a matter of time that the meaning gets lost.
However I agree, Adweek. This is a top ad for 2017 to increase awareness of an important issue. Ultimately, with a cause as important as this, it may take more than a splashy stunt for changes to occur. But that’s not the job of the advertiser.