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Like An American Girl: Going Beyond The Doll For A More Empowering Image

The brand is hoping more content, new products in health, beauty, and cookware, and events will bring girls together.

There’s a pretty big movement in pop culture right now that’s taking an inspired swipe at gender issues and stereotypes, whether it’s the rise of Amy Schumer, the new Ghostbusters, the new Thor, the launch of Vice’s Broadly, or the record-breaking popularity of the women’s world cup, the signs are everywhere and the momentum continues.

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Brands know this. No longer is Dove the only brand hitching its brand image to female empowerment. Look no further than Always’s Like A Girl, or ads featuring more realistic body images that go beyond just another skinny model. The consumer response has encouraged ever more brands to get on board the empowerment express.

Now American Girl is launching a new campaign aimed to align its brand image more closely to that empowering idea and is extending itself well beyond the dolls to do it. “The Pledge,” by agency Publicis, is a result of research the brand has done that said, despite the wonders of modern communication, young girls feel increasingly isolated.

To answer that, American Girl president Jean McKenzie says the new campaign’s focus is to bring girls together. “We were one of the first brands to talk to girls in a way that made them feel like they really matter,” says McKenzie. “But for the most part, that approach was focused on the individual girls. Now, we’re putting ourselves on a new path, going beyond the individual and talking about how girls can be powerful collectively.”

To reflect and capitalize on how its consumers are using the dolls, the brand has launched an original stop motion animated series inspired by the #AGSM phenomenon of girls creating stop-motion videos of their own dolls, as well as a short-format show for YouTube called AG Life!.

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The new direction also includes going beyond dolls into new brand extensions in health, beauty, and cookware. McKenzie says as the brand’s research showed how girls are consuming content today and wanting more experiences, this is the time to broaden the ways in which they can interact with the brand.

“We’re partnering with Williams-Sonoma, with cooking classes and experiences to bring girls and moms together in something that’s social, expressive, and fun,” says McKenzie. “We’ve also teamed with an organization called No Kid Hungry, to help girls organize bake sales to help raise money for a great cause.”

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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