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The unstoppable power of strong women in branded video

The unstoppable power of strong women in branded video Mallory Russell

Last month, we revealed that the World Cup was officially the biggest branded video event of all time. While the tournament only lasted for four weeks -- from mid-June to mid-July -- it dominated the world of branded video for the past four months.

Brands that advertised during the event lead the July iMedia Brands in Video chart, with big-time tournament advertisers Samsung, Nike, and adidas taking the top three spots, respectively. However, the influence of World Cup brands on the list is far less than it was in June.

Last month, eight of the top 10 brands had made investments in the World Cup. This month, it was only half of that. Additionally, viewership of the top 10 brands decreased by 23 percent from June to July. The top brand last month, Nike, had more than 123.7 million views, whereas this month's top brand, Samsung, had 96.7 million views.

For big events that take place over many days, it is the lead up and beginning of the event that drives the most viewership. Is that simply because more brands launched content during this period? Possibly. But it's more likely a result of the anticipation leading up to the event and the excitement of a global audience in the early days of a tournament when all countries are still playing.

While the World Cup played a huge role in July's branded video story, it was Always that really dominated headlines during the month. The feminine care brand's 39 million views are the result of one campaign: "#LikeAGirl."

The video, which debuted at the end of June, aims to dispel the idea that doing something "like a girl" is cause for mocking. In the first part of the ad, men and women are asked to run, punch, and throw "like a girl," and they do what you might expect by performing the tasks in an idiotic and mocking fashion.

Then young girls are asked to perform the same actions. They do them without the exaggeration that the adults imbued in their runs, punches, and throws; they simply run, punch, and throw like any other person.

The uplifting video, helmed by documentarian Lauren Greenfield ("Queen of Versailles") has garnered more than 52 million views and 1.2 million social interactions. In addition, it spent six weeks on the Ad Age Viral Video Chart, during several of which it held the top spot.

"#LikeAGirl" is indicative of a great trend of female empowerment. Over the past year, we've seen a number of brands attempt this type of messaging.

Pantene's "#NotSorry," which sheds light on the tendency of women to over-apologize in unwarranted situations, has generated a True Reach score of more than 15.6 million views since its release in June. It also produced "#WhipIt," which takes a critical look at labels given to women and has accumulated more than 46 million views.

Verizon generated 4.3 million views with its video "Inspire Her Mind," which encourages girls (and their parents) to get involved in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and math. The main message of the ad is that we shouldn't just tell girls that they are pretty; we should tell them that they are "pretty brilliant" too.

And more recently, Under Armour released "I Will What I Want," a video starring American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland. A voice-over of a rejection letter Copeland once received plays over footage of the ballerina performing with both grace and athleticism. It's accumulated 5.4 million views.

But the trend of these "go girl" ads really starts with Dove. The brand's "Campaign for Real Beauty" has preached self-acceptance to women for 10 years. The success of last year's "Real Beauty Sketches" demonstrated the power of this type of female-focused content and its potential to attract big viewership. It's no wonder that other brands -- spanning the gamut from feminine care brands to telecom companies -- are using this strategy as well.

Empowerment messages, like the one Always used, work for two reasons: They elicit emotion, and they stir up debate around social issues. Emotion is what engages viewers and inspires them to share content with their friends. Debate is what drives media coverage, buzz, and, ultimately, increased viewership. Always benefited both from its viewers' emotional reactions to the content, as well as broad media coverage of how we, as a society, talk about girls.

Only time will tell whether Always will continue down this path of empowerment messaging or if other feminine care brands follow suit. It seems, however, a natural messaging strategy not only for Always, but also for a category that needs to move from the awkward stereotype-filled ads that it has relied on for decades and toward content that actually speaks to and engages women.

Mallory Russell is content editor at Visible Measures.

iMedia's Top 10 Brands in Video chart, powered by Visible Measures, focuses on aggregated brand view counts across related social video ad campaigns. Each brand and campaign is measured on a True Reach basis, which includes viewership of both brand-syndicated and audience-driven video clips. The data are compiled using the patented Visible Measures platform, a constantly growing repository of analytic data on close to 400 million videos tracked across more than 300 online video destinations.

Note: This analysis does not include Visible Measures' paid-placement (e.g., overlays; pre-, mid-, and post-roll) performance data or video views on private sites. This chart does not include movie trailers, video game campaigns, TV show, or media network promotions. View counts are incremental by month.

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Mallory Russell is the Director of Content for Visible Measures. Prior to joining Visible Measures, Mallory wrote for Advertising Age and Business Insider. She also spent a few years in the San Francisco ad business at DraftFCB and Goodby,...

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