If your business wants to make any type of political or social statement, it’s important to be very, very careful about how you do it. There’s very little margin for error, and if you fail, you run the risk of turning off your customer base.
This holiday season, the American Girl doll brand has managed to comment on a social issue both tastefully and effectively, showing how sometimes championing a cause can actually have a place in marketing a brand.
Making a positive impact
In 2014, American Girl doll sales fell for the first time in nearly five years. The company knew it needed to do something big with its marketing—the doll brand is a mainstay, but could have been considered to have a rather old-fashioned appeal.
This year, the brand has made its mission to “celebrate girls,” tapping into a cultural movement pushing for female empowerment and better depictions of women in mass media. The global brand director for American Girl said the campaign is “centered on connecting girls with each other and their families,” with communications from the brand celebrating the idea that “contemporary real girls are stronger when they align and support one another.”
As part of the campaign, American Girl has started encouraging its followers—especially teen girls—to start moving away from posting “selfies” and taking what it calls “usies” instead. An “usie” is a photo of a girl and her friends. The idea is to start recognizing the importance of those who surround you, thereby promoting more unification and strength among girls and women.
The brand has called on a number of major social media influencers to help push the campaign. American Girl will then repost some of the “usies” to its own social media accounts.
Additionally, American Girl has begun a “buy one, give one” program, in which the company will donate a doll to a girl in need for every one customers purchase. The goal is to foster a more charitable, supporting community among young women.
Although it’s typically not highly advised for businesses to comment on potentially divisive issues in their marketing campaigns, getting behind a cause in an entirely positive way can reflect well on your brand. American Girl’s efforts this holiday season are a great example of a successful approach.