The arbitrary and artificial commemoration (there’s three big words in a single sentence! Achievement unlocked!) of made-up occasions rankles me once in a while. I mean, I get the symbolism and the importance of symbols in creating cultural goalposts and milestones.
And I haven’t even ventured in the neighborhood of an Archie’s or a Hallmark store in ages to be riled up by them.
But this particular one—around the gender equation—makes me think more about this topic than around the rash of infections (Rose Day, Propose Day, Chocolate Day, Teddy Day, Promise Day, Kiss Day, Hug Day…excuse me while I puke) that happen in February every year.
I can rationalize these latter as being fueled not just by marketing dollars but also by unbridled hormones running amok.
But the rash of commercials and films and print ads and “innovations” to rush to showcase solidarity with women on this particular day only makes me question the unthinking / unchecked thinking on the part of marketers and brands around Women’s Day.
I do understand the logic, believe me. There was this really simple and clear argument put forth around a similar issue in the U.S. around why #BlackLivesMatter doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter. The marginalization of a certain segment of society for so long has meant that it is worth highlighting that fact; it doesn’t mean that the others don’t matter.
I get it that earmarking a day for Women’s Day doesn’t mean that women don’t matter on the other days (apologies for the double negative, but I could find no better way to put it). But if I were to extend the analogy with #BlackLivesMatter in another direction, it is that that issue is not highlighted only for a day, but is pursued—whether by brands, or by other non-capitalist advocates—all the time.
What I’m getting to is that, in a 24/7 age, perhaps what we need is not so much a Women’s Day so much as #WomenMatter, all the time. Because, like that other issue, women—in patriarchal societies—have been a marginalized segment for so long that saying #WomenMatter is needed all the time, and does not mean that men don’t matter.
And if brands started looking it from that point of view, then they would stop looking at Women’s Day as a media opportunity, and truly engage meaningfully not just with women, but with all equal-thinking people, all the time.
People have never lived by media campaign calendars, and it’s high time brands started living the 24/7 lives people do, aligned with the issues that matter to them all the time.
Women’s Day is not a festival, like Diwali or Christmas or Baisakhi. Women are not (and my guess is they wouldn’t want to be treated like) gods that need to be worshipped and celebrated.
Women matter in the same ways, and sometimes in different ways, that men do.
That’s Pipe Dream #9. That as marketers and the ad agencies advising them, we stop looking at rushing with the herd to create media apertures, and start creating meaning on a continuous basis, in ways that engage people regardless of occasion.
When we do that, it’ll still be Women’s Day tomorrow. And the day after.