Chase Behringer and Shivani Garg Patel

Go-Girl Marketing: Show Me The Impact?: Why companies should invest in maternal health, not just slogans

Considering the trillions in spending power that women wield in today’s marketplace, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a major jump in “go-girl” marketing. It’s nearly impossible to go online these days and not stumble across the latest catchy female empowerment campaign—Under Armour (I Will What I Want), Pantene (Not Sorry) and Hello Flo (First Moon Party) are just a few examples whose campaigns went viral last year.

But as more and more corporations start to use this soft sell technique—e.g., crafting marketing campaigns that showcase values vs. products—what’s going to separate the sizzle from the steak?

Women consumers have always valued brands and products that make the world a better place. And while go-girl marketing is a step in the right direction, it needs to be followed-up with action. One way to do this is high-impact corporate philanthropy: evidence-based programs, developed in partnership with experts and supported by a major cash investment. That’s real brand alignment.

There are some strong examples of corporate philanthropy focused on women’s economic empowerment. Coca-Cola has leveraged its global value chain in the creation of the 5by20 Initiative, an ambitious effort with the goal of empowering 5 million women entrepreneurs. Similarly, Walmart has committed $100 million in grants towards its Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative. Goldman Sachs, Gap and others also have major initiatives.

One area where there is still room for more corporate activity is maternal and child health, two of the most pressing Millennium Development Goals. For some, the issues in the maternal and child health space—complications like fistula or child mortality—might feel too uncomfortable for brand-alignment. But more corporate engagement is critical to de-stigmatize these issues and raise much needed funding. Merck is one of the pioneers in this space. Similar to Coca-Cola and Walmart, Merck used its scientific expertise to create Merck for Mothers, a $500 million initiative focused on creating a world where no woman dies giving life.

As International Women’s Day is recognized on Sunday around the world, more needs to be done than raising awareness through Twitter hashtags and feel-good ads. As women, consumers, and nonprofit professionals, we at Samahope challenge companies to follow up on women-focused campaigns with high-impact corporate philanthropy that improves the lives of women. And with that, perhaps next year’s most buzzed about campaign will be a commercial that features a tender moment between mother and child, and also ties in with a major corporate investment in maternal and child health.

Chase Behringer is the Business Development Lead at Samahope, an online platform for direct giving in global health. Samahope’s mission is to close the surgical gap by enabling anyone, anywhere to fund a life-saving surgery through the Internet.

Shivani Garg Patel is Co-founder and Managing Director at Samahope, which currently supports 12 doctors performing treatments in nine countries: Sierra Leone, Zambia, Uganda, Somaliland, Nepal, India, Ecuador, Bolivia and USA (California).

Health Care
corporate social responsibility, marketing and advertising, reproductive health