P&G’s Always teams with Walmart to urge girls to stay in sports

Dive Brief:

  • Procter & Gamble’s feminine care brand Always launched a campaign with Walmart this week to urge people to help girls stay in sports as part of their personal growth. The #KeepHerPlaying effort seeks to raise awareness about the benefits of participating in athletic activities while raising money for the Women’s Sports Foundation, per an announcement.
  • Always and Walmart donated $250,000 to the foundation, which tennis legend Billie Jean King started in 1974, and has set up a matching program to encourage others to participate. Every time someone watches the #KeepHerPlaying video on a Walmart microsite through Jan. 31, the retailer and Always will donate another $1 to the foundation — up to $500,000. The bilingual microsite provides tips for parents and mentors on how to encourage girl athletes and shows Always products for sale at Walmart.
  • In their latest iteration of the girls’ empowerment effort, Always and Walmart are enlisting Olympic gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez to publicize the effort. They ask people to share the #KeepHerPlaying video on social media and to participate by posting their experiences of helping girls stay in sports.

Dive Insight:

Always and Walmart’s #KeepHerPlaying campaign is the latest iteration of its multiyear effort to help empower girls by urging them to participate in sports. Leadership, confidence and teamwork are three of the top benefits from participating in team athletics, according to research cited by the brands. However, millions of girls typically quit sports when they reach puberty, and the pandemic has worsened the situation. More than one-third of teenagers feel less confident because they’re missing out on after-school activities like sports since the beginning of the health crisis, according to an online survey.

Female empowerment has been an ongoing theme for Always, including the 2014 launch of its award-winning “Like A Girl” campaign that sought to turn a childish putdown into a motto of strength. The brand received favorable reviews for a Super Bowl spot the following year that echoed the theme, and resumed the campaign in 2017 to inspire teenage girls to overcome fears of failure. Always has worked with Walmart for the past four years on its Live #LikeAGirl and #EndPeriodPoverty campaigns.

While socially conscious advertising runs the risk of alienating consumers who see it as inauthentic “woke-washing,” Always has consistently received favorable response from its female empowerment campaigns. The “Like a Girl” campaign two years ago received the highest marks for “smart heart ads” that focus on brand values and social good, according to media research firm Ace Metrix. The #KeepHerPlaying campaign may elicit the same response with its positive message designed to inspire consumers rather than scolding them for not measuring up to idealistic brand values.

Socially conscious messaging is nothing new for parent company P&G. It has tackled a variety of issues in its campaigns over the years, including 2020’s ad titled “The Choice” that implored White consumers to acknowledge their privilege and take action to end racism, a theme that became more pronounced amid global protests against racism and police violence. The themes of these ads are consistent with the company’s broader mission to promote inclusivity. Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard last summer outlined the company’s internal goals to improve multicultural representation in the U.S., including working with more Black-owned and -operated vendors and scrutinizing its media plan to ensure groups are represented fairly.

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