TORQUE Says "Friends-On" to Brands Who've Changed Their Tune Towards Women

Brands are changing the way they talk to women, and the ladies of TORQUE have taken notice.

Women make more than 80% of all consumer purchasing decisions (She-conomy, 2016), yet traditionally the majority of brands focus their marketing efforts on men causing many campaigns to fall on deaf ears. With the emergence of better audience data and consistent evaluation techniques, brands are acting on new insights and doing more to effectively target females.

However, many brands are still stuck with the “shrink it and pink it” philosophy as a marketing strategy. To us this is still not authentic, failing to recognise the difference in culture and attitudes between different demographics of women.

Fortunately at the other end of the spectrum there are brands who have done their research, and are trying to better understand what is truly important to women. Women in particular demand authenticity and for brands to speak genuinely. By speaking genuinely we mean thinking of women beyond the stereotypes of more emotional than their male counterparts. Authentic brands add a more human and relatable lens to their stories, mixed perhaps, with a bit of humour.

So our TORQUE ladies decided to highlight a few brand campaigns which we believe have mastered the art of reaching a female audience.


Auburn_Sigurdson_web101 Auburn Sigurdson, Director, Brand & Strategy


I have always secretly been ‘friends off’ with Special K. From a very early age I just couldn’t understand why they kept telling women to eat a bowl of their cereal for breakfast and lunch so we could fit into that red bikini, catch a guy’s eye or sling the red measuring tape around our hips with pride.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not impervious to the pressure media has placed on women – and have fallen victim to the lure of ‘dieting’ along with the best of ‘em. I just couldn’t wrap my 7 year old brain around how a cereal brand could hang its hat solely on the “get skinny” message when there’s so much more to life. (like pizza)

A lot of brands have gotten it wrong with us gals, and we’re seeing the repercussions manifest in sweeping societal challenges. Somewhat ironically, we’re now taking notice and rewarding brands that have tackled things like body issues head on (i.e. Dove, Always, etc.).

The other day, my distaste with the diet cereal suddenly shifted. I happened to forget to skip past a commercial break and was taken aback by this fresh spin on Special K’s approach.

Not only are these women real in a beautifully imperfect way – but they’ve shifted the message away from trying to change yourself to fit the so-called “ideal”, to just be what you are and #OwnIt. Even the voice over sounded real, and a little in your face.

I can see myself in this spot. Sweaty post-workout, unkempt on the kitchen floor, late night laughs and rushing around in the daily grind. We all have these moments – imperfect, unfiltered, honest moments where we look like anything but the cover of a magazine. It’s the stuff life’s made of.

The #OwnIt campaign isn’t new – launching in 2015 with this piece. Their latest take captured my attention and imagination a little more, however. Perhaps due to the less literal focus on body image and shift to real-life. Either way, the brand has earned a fresh start with me – and I’ll be looking forward to what they do next. Friends-on Special K, friends-on.


Monica Whiteley web101 2 Monica Whiteley, Coordinator, Client Strategy

Organic Valley

Mornings are hectic, even for me, a 25 year old jumping headfirst into the fast paced culture of agency life. Then I take a look at the other women I work with and the future looks as if I’ll be traveling in hyper speed.

Exhibit A: Within the timeframe of a month and a half, a colleague of mine worked an international sporting event (a client of ours), bought and sold a house, and planned and celebrated a brilliant wedding!

Exhibit B: Another women has 4 children, coaches a few of her kid’s sports teams, and sits as chair of a parent advisory council on top of working part time for our company.

Oh and they’re not the only ones.

Not for one second do I believe my colleagues start their mornings fermenting Kombucha tea, sitting in tree pose, or having time to prepare a nice well-rounded breakfast. And that’s why I feel this Organic Valley’s Real Morning Report campaign is so relatable to the majority of professional working women.
And here’s what they found:

This campaign shows professional working women that Organic Valley is well aware of how the majority are really spending their officially “cray” mornings. As well, the campaign shows the brand is also here to make their lives better, rather than presenting a stereotypical female fairy tale morning.

Organic Valley’s strategy was not just to target women but focus on a specific demographic: professional females. The morning a teenage girl experiences is very different from the morning of her employed mother of four.

The company also knew what they were doing by targeting this valuable and profitable consumer:

  • 44% of women are the primary breadwinners in their household.
  • 75% of women identify themselves as the primary shopper in their household.

(Harbinger, 2016)

Key takeaway- do not target an entire gender, target the experiences of a specific consumer demo and enhance those moments with the help of your brand or product.

This will make your brand much more meaningful to your audience while making their lives better.

Oh and seriously who starts their day with hashtag #blessed?


Colette e1461782566185 Colette Goh, Coordinator, Client Strategy


As a twenty-something female consumer, I don’t have a brand that resonates with me purely because I’m a woman. While gender is a part of my identity, my millennial traits (nowadays it’s impossible to write a marketing piece without saying the dreaded “M” word) have a stronger influence at the point of purchase. Even though I expect authenticity, creative content and quality from all brands, I do not consider myself brand loyal. My brand apathy is a common millennial affliction, where convenience, value and brand purpose rule.

Rather than talk about brands that singularly target women, I’m going to explain how Millennial-focused, e-commerce start-up Everlane wins in my books. Founded in 2011, Everlane is a direct to consumer brand that sells luxury basics for men and women online without the traditional retail markup. Their mission is to “fix retail” – they don’t advertise, they don’t do discounts and they don’t have physical stores. Instead of selling mass amounts of cheap trendy clothes, their collection started with $15 t-shirts and has slowly grown to include wardrobe basics that can worn year round. They are one of the first brands to propose “radical transparency”: each product page has a detailed cost breakdown and compares Everlane’s prices to traditional retailers. Everlane is also open about their supply chain and their commitment to fair labour practices.

How does Everlane speak to customers without traditional advertising? Not only are their products stylish, functional and accessible, but their ethical and sustainable model resonates with the conscious consumption movement. I know that my purchase of an Everlane sweater won’t save the world, but I like justifying my materialism with knowing exactly what I am paying for. With Everlane projected to double revenue to $100 million this year, obviously the company is doing something right.

So here’s what brands can learn from Everlane: they can build relationships with women without saying, “We recognize YOU as strong empowered woman.” Everlane’s pillars of transparency, design and quality resonate regardless of gender. Just make your customers feel good, while bettering society & disrupting the industry. Easy, right?


Jemima101x84 Jemima Twist, Intern


A brand that personally resonates with me is NIKE. Being a fitness fan, I am receptive to the marketing techniques of athletic brands. I love how NIKE showcases women as strong, independent and powerful in their own right. In 2015 they introduced a campaign “Better for it” which NIKE produced in hopes of inspiring women to get out there and get active, ideally in NIKE products!

The campaign initially ran on traditional media, with a crown jewel of a TV spot depicting the internal struggles women face when exercising.

The spot features 4 women each exercising in a different sport. Throughout you hear the thoughts and doubts going through their head, letting you into their world and the doubts going through their minds as they train. This is something I think we can all relate too. I love how NIKE is now going after the female demographic and empowering women to overcome these self-doubts to be the best they can be!  A similar train of thought to Sport England This Girl Can campaign.

NIKE went on to produce an online 4 part YouTube series to accompany the campaign which allowed them to showcase their latest NIKE products in a subtle way but more importantly use this opportunity, through long form content, to showcase their brand personality. The characters they use in the series are very relatable to women worldwide, in particular young professionals with little time to exercise, who I’m sure are a key target for NIKE. Keep up the good work!