1 Mar 2019

Women and Leadership

Although women and people in minority groups have taken on more leadership roles, women have yet to show a strong presence with only 22% in top executive positions.

Mimi Turner, Founder of Mimi Turner Associates

On our latest podcast episode we spoke to Mimi Turner, founder of brand strategy business Mimi Turner Associates. Turner began her career as a journalist on the Sunday Times and The Hollywood Reporter for over a decade before becoming Group Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Northern & Shell, a media business which owned Channel 5, OK Magazine and  Express Newspapers. She became sales and marketing director of The Health Lottery before becoming the first CMO of the Lad Bible, which she helped transform from a cult youth platform to a mainstream media brand. She was head of UK strategy at VICE before setting up her own brand strategy business which advises media businesses on product and positioning.

Her clients have included digital sports platform GIVEMESPORT, AI video recommendation platform Suggestv and Wireless Group, home to talkSPORT, talkRADIO and Virgin Radio, where she is currently consulting CMO.

Here are five things we can learn from her experience with women and leadership.

  • “One thing I think is really important when it comes to leadership is that you have got to like people”. Leadership is about understanding the people within an organization. You have to be prepared to listen and understand them so that they feel part of the journey. Culture is one of the most important aspects of a business in order for change to happen.
  • Play to your strengths and don’t be afraid to be fearless. “Someone once told me that I was forever going into jobs that I didn’t have any experience of, but my career trajectory has been to move very comfortably from something I didn’t know about to something else I didn’t know about while thinking, actually I’ll learn that on the job”.  If you can identify what’s unique from your past experience use those skills to advance. If you don’t have all the skills you need, learn on the job from your environment and the people around you.
  • “Male and female leaders are not fundamentally different. Both demonstrate an archetypical ‘leader personality’ focused on being people orientated, strategic and decisive”. The idea that female leaders are fundamentally different from male leaders is widespread and is an attitude that needs to desperately change in order to encourage equality amongst senior management teams. 
  • The challenge in the workplace is not how do we allow more women in and how can they adapt to men. “Women are already in, even when you told them they weren’t allowed in they found a way to get in. Every woman in the workplace knows how to speak the language of men and they will use this to tell stories better and be more successful than men”. Businesses need to recognise that instead of focusing on changing women to excel in male dominated environments, men must understand a new language to work cooperatively and effectively with women.
  • Women are taking new approaches to leadership, “The more women leading organisations, the more women there will be in organisations because when we work together we understand each other a little more quickly, we look to cooperate and with a bit of added value because we brought more to the process”. Women in leadership have the opportunity to be role models for other women. Leading the way in their own careers by choosing to support them and work collaboratively.   

To listen to the full interview, subscribe to our podcast SuperHuman Action Heroes by clicking on the link below.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/superhuman-action-heroes/id1323080894?mt=2

30 Jan 2019

VEGANUARY – THE MONTH VEGAN HIT THE BIG TIME

There was absolutely nothing niche, leftfield or down right hippy about Veganuary 2019.  Marks & Spencer, the patron saint of middle England, landed Plant Kitchen, its Vegan range. The Greggs vegan sausage roll was a bigger hit than last Christmas’ pork-based baby Jesus offering. Even MacDonald’s got in on the act with a vegan burger, and let’s not forget the highly contentious Great British Bake Off vegan week.   Plant-based, vegan, field grown eating has gone from geeky to edgy to mainstream and beyond.

As with many big deal consumer trends, plant-based eating has for some time attained a certain hipster cache. Showbiz magazines and websites are more than happy to reflect the green glow of vegan celebrities from Arianna Grande to Beyoncé.  To mark Veganuary 2019 celebrity nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson and TV chef Gizzi Erskine launched Filth a vegan burger pop up in East London.

Plant based living is now both current and mainstream.  Vegan innovation has hit epic proportions including a plethora of faux meat and fish substitutes to delivery services like All Plants offering delicious frozen vegan meals that look after ‘you and the planet’.  A measure of the golden glow of plant based living is the number of existing non animal based products, from bed sheets to kitchen wear, that now badges themselves as Vegan or plant based.

But why is Veganuary so popular now?

It seems it is not one single cause, but a perfect storm of plant-based factors. Animal welfare, environmental concerns and personal health all made aspirational by a line up of currents influencers, blogs, films and magazines.  

In 2018, 84% of Veganuary participants were female, while 60% were aged under 35.   Not surprising when you consider that plant based eating reflects many of the values supported by Millennials and older health lifestyle adopters.  A growing group of the population are becoming more ‘woke’ to the effect their food has on the planet and their health. 

Richard Branson, who is investing in Memphis Meats a lab-grown meat start up, recently said:

“In 30 years or so, I believe we will be shocked that we killed animals en masse for food”. 

Richard Branson

It is very much looking like he has a point.

At SuperHuman we believe this is far from a moment in time and that the shift in the plant-based/vegan image has much to do with this.  In our Fierce Vegan influencer campaign for client Udo’s Oil we set out to show vegans are rocking their fitness goals leaving old ‘pale and weak’ perceptions for dead.  

Kip Andersen of the now infamous documentary Cowspiracy sums it up nicely.  

“Whereas before, veganism may have been viewed like your were giving up something, now its been reframed as what you gain.”  

Kip Anderson



If you’d like to find out more about our work during Veganuary or about our wellness practice please, get in touch here.

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10 Jul 2018

Middle Age Explorers: Experience doesn’t just belong to Millennials

When we think about the experience economy and the idea of doing more rather than owning more, we often think of Millennials and Gen Z leading the way. Yet in SuperHuman’s Invisible Middle research, we can see that the experience economy is not just for Millennials. SuperHuman found that 78% of 40+ women had an appetite to explore and have new experiences.

For women over 40, experience and doing things that inspire sits front and centre for so many of them. The data from SuperHuman’s research plays this out. The top five key concerns for women aged 40 plus are: keeping healthy, fitness, doing things that challenge them, friendships and careers.

At this age, many women are entering a new era of their lives.  For the first time in a long time, they have the time and the money to pursue their passions. If they’ve had kids, they’ve been through their family years and now want to take some time and energy to focus on themselves.

There’s also a practical value to this in their lives. They are the “sandwich generation” and know that they have to be fighting fit to keep on top of their responsibilities. They are likely to live for another 40 years and need to be able to look after older kids, (often) older parents, as well as work & their relationships. The analogy of putting on your own oxygen mask first and looking after themselves first is an imperative, as it means they can continue to look after others.

From a brand perspective, it’s a rich opportunity to engage this audience and support them in a number of different ways:

  • Self-care is increasingly recognised as an imperative for this audience, and they are looking for ways to do this, buying time back, having enriching experiences. What can your brand do to facilitate this?
  • Whether that be running a marathon or going on a yoga retreat, 40+ women are looking for products & services that facilitate these experiences. They are discerning, so these products & services need to be fit for purpose. Yet, so few brands in this market actively court this older audience, presenting an opportunity ripe for the picking for brands.

We’ve got another blog coming next week talking about brands, with an interview of a woman who is embracing ‘experience’. The issue is that there are so few brands really doing this well for this audience…

26 Mar 2018

How brands can join the female empowerment conversation in a meaningful way

I would urge advertisers to get involved in the female empowerment conversation, but in a meaningful way. The question is, what qualifies you to take part?”

Tiffanie Darke, Editor in Chief of A&E Networks

This month SuperHuman Women is focusing on female empowerment, and how advertisers, brands and businesses engage consumers and make a difference.

With International Women’s Day having just passed and Women’s History Month in full swing, brands and advertisers all over the world are jumping onboard the female empowerment wagon. But, not all are gaining the goodwill they expect.

But, the bigger question is SHOULD they get involved? And, more importantly, how and where should they do it?

Today, we’re talking to Tiffanie Darke, Editor in Chief of A&E Networks, about the groundbreaking series, History, Herstory, which shines a light on overlooked women in history. It is a great example of how a brand can contribute to a global conversation in a significant way.

We asked her how this campaign came about and how other brands can better engage female audiences.

Welcome, Tiffanie! Can you tell us more about History, Herstory?

In the run-up to Women’s History Month, we realised that we know relatively little about influential women from the past. A street poll on historical female figures revealed that most people struggle to name more than five!

So, we got influential people and celebrities to nominate women who inspire them and ended up with some very passionate, personal stories. We distributed the video on all our channels – the first time A&E has used the entire network for a campaign.

This series has run throughout March, and so far, it’s going gangbusters!

Which story resonated with you most?

I love Bernice King’s story. As Martin Luther King’s daughter, we asked her what story she would like to be told in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his death. Surprisingly, she wanted to talk about her mother.

She said, “My mother was never recognised for what she achieved. She was the first woman to become an activist in the civil rights movement, and to use Gandhi as an inspiration for peaceful protest.”

Within months of her husband’s assassination, Coretta had set up the King Foundation which does extraordinary work promoting peace and harmony – especially relevant today. She ensured his legacy lives on and makes a greater impact than he was able to in his lifetime.

How do you feel the public’s response to female-focussed storytelling has changed in the past decade?

Since the MeToo movement, people are beginning to realise there is a whole other side to the story. We can start to retell history through a female lens.

The New York Times did a similar project this month, called Overlooked. After going through their archives, they discovered very few obituaries for women. They bravely owned their past prejudices and added the obituaries of notable women that had not previously been published.

It’s wonderful to see change happening.

 

we-are-superhuman-blog-the-superhuman-woman-series-we-are-superhuman-blog-how-brands-can-get-involved-in-the-female-empowerment-conversation

 

Is there is a difference between the UK and US in terms of women’s empowerment?

With the current political environment in the US, people are angry. They’ve reached the limit of what they can bear and they’re ready to go the extra mile and make a change. This year, there are 580 women running for public office!

What role does History, Herstory play as a statement of the values of A&E Networks?

History, Herstory was birthed in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. We wanted to do something to speed up the change.

A&E Networks had worked with Harvey on several shows in the past, and Nancy Dubuc, our CEO at the time, had to sever all ties with his company. As one of the few female CEOs in entertainment, she used the opportunity to forward the manifesto about female leadership in the industry.

Have you had a good response from advertisers?

Not enough!

To be fair, we did it quickly, and you need a big budget to sponsor content that’s on all our channels, reaching a massive audience. A car brand has asked to sponsor the remaining half of the month, which is great, as the series is generating a lot of goodwill.

What can brands do to play a more active role in the female empowerment conversation? 

I would urge advertisers to get involved, but in a meaningful way.

For example, McDonald’s turned its “M” into a “W” for International Women’s Day, but it didn’t go down well. It just felt like they were jumping on a bandwagon. The question is, what qualifies you to take part in the conversation?

I particularly like the Times Up campaign, which funds legal defence for women who suffer from sexual harassment. It’s not a PR stunt. It’s making a real difference.

A powerful way to forward the movement and promote your brand at the same time is to simply pay men and women equally. That will attract more talent and set a new standard for the industry.

What are your biggest learnings from the History, Herstory series?

For me, as editor in chief and guardian of the brand voice, this project has been transformational. Now, when people think of our HISTORY or Lifetime channels, they think of women’s history, which is not something they would have associated with us before.

History, Herstory also has a huge educational component. That means we are changing what children are learning now and ensuring progress for when those children enter the workplace.

What’s next for A&E Networks in this space?

Lots of exciting stuff! We want to address the dearth of historic monuments dedicated to women in America. We’re starting a campaign to build new monuments and restore the ones that have fallen by the wayside.

Next week, we’re going down to Washington with a bunch of school kids to restore the Joan of Arc statue’s sword that was stolen. It’ll be a great privilege to tell the kids her heroic story while commemorating the statue and preserving it for future generations.

 

Thank you to Tiffanie for sharing her insight with us. You can listen to the episode below. And, make sure you don’t miss another podcast episode by subscribing over on iTunes!

 

 


 

If you’d like to talk to us about how your brand can build engagement by doing things that make a real difference, get in touch.

 


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22 Jan 2018

The SuperHuman Women Series: Renée Elliott, Founder of Planet Organic and Beluga Bean

“Women get so into what they are doing, they forget that they need to be going to the gym, doing yoga, eating well and taking care of themselves. They need to create their life so they are enjoying every minute now. Because now is all we have. It’s living in the moment.”

Renée Elliott, Founder of Planet Organic and Beluga Bean

 

Hello and welcome to SuperHuman Women, your monthly dose of insight from SuperHuman, the strategic marketing agency that helps brands to connect with women.

Each month we focus on a different female-focused topic. This month is a topic close to my heart – wellness. Looking after your physical, mental or spiritual wellbeing is definitely a priority for women, and as we’ve seen in our research, is particularly important to women over 40.

But this comes at a cost and, for many women, a sense of frustration. This is a generation that finds themselves stretched in every direction, juggling multiple responsibilities including their career and looking after children, their parents and their home life. This can make it incredibly difficult for these women to stay on track with any wellness goals or habits.

Today’s SuperHuman Woman is Renée Elliott, a woman who knows all too well the pressures we face when it comes to our own wellness. Renée has created not one, but two successful business that address the tension between wellness and our real lives – Planet Organic, the first upmarket organic supermarket in the UK and more recently Beluga Bean, an academy offering positive, effective and powerful coaching courses that help women to live a thoughtful, abundant and vibrant lives.

In this Podcast episode, we talk to Renée about her journey to creating two successful brands in the wellness space, how she manages her own wellbeing and what she thinks the future will look like for women and wellness.

You can listen to the episode below, or over on iTunes.

 

 


Thank you toRenée Elliott for sharing her story with us.

Find out more about our work in disrupting the way brands and society think about women at www.wearesuperhuman.co.uk.

And, make sure you don’t miss another podcast episode by subscribing over on iTunes.


 

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14 Dec 2017

The SuperHuman Women Series: Grace Fodor, Founder of Studio 10

These are women that have felt invisible, ignored and not at all catered for. They feel almost talked down to. It’s a much bigger story than just makeup.”

Grace Fodor, Founder of Studio 10

This week on the SuperHuman blog we continue our discussion on the beauty industry and the perception of women and ageing.

Last week we had the pleasure of speaking with Jo Elvin, Founding Editor of Glamour Magazine, about the role the media plays in shaping our attitudes towards mid-life women.

This week we caught up with a true disruptor of the beauty industry, Grace Fodor. Grace founded innovative pro age makeup range, Studio 10, when she saw a gap in the market for makeup designed specifically for women as they age.

Listen to the full interview on our podcast, or read what Grace had to say below.

 

Hi Grace. Tell us a little about your story. How did you end up focussing on mature women and creating Studio 10?

I set up Studio 10 in my late 40s because I felt there was a need. I felt let down and frustrated by the beauty industry on a couple of levels. There was no makeup brand out there aimed at me that did the job, or really understood me as a mature woman. We don’t use the same skincare that we did in our 20s as we get older. And this is recognised by the great skincare brands, products and technology available specifically for older women. But I didn’t want to use same make up either. It’s not just about the ingredients, but the texture, finish and how the makeup interacts with ageing skin. I created Studio 10 not to make women look younger but to help them put their best face forward because there is so much negativity around ageing for women.

 

 

Was there a particular catalyst that led to the inception of Studio 10?

I had just finished working for a makeup brand and after analysing what products and brands were available, and looking at all of the sales, I began to see a pattern. Women invest more in makeup as they age. And they pay more attention to reviews because they are frustrated that most of what is available doesn’t meet their needs, for example setting in fine lines, or not giving enough coverage.

I saw that no other makeup brand was catering properly for ageing skin. Yes, lots of current brands were paying lip service and adding in anti-ageing products and marketing them for older women, but they hadn’t done their research. If they had, they would have realised that as they age, women in their 40s, 50s, they want a bit more coverage. And how they interact with make-up changes. They either do their make up in the same way as they did 20 years ago, or they don’t put on make-up at all because the market is overcomplicated. They need a make-up routine simplified into a few products that do the jobs they need. No brands or products were catering properly for this group of women.

 

And what has been the reaction to Studio 10?

We’ve had the most amazing response. From the press, celebrities, make-up artists and especially from women. They say we understand how they feel emotionally and psychologically.

There is so much negativity towards women and ageing in the Western World. For me, it’s about self-care, wellbeing and using the medium of make-up to make yourself feel better. If you look good, you feel good. It comes down not just to ageing but to self-esteem, independence and confidence. Make-up is so easy and so accessible and can make the biggest difference.

I’ve received emails from ladies who have said our make-up range has changed their life, that they have not looked or felt as good since their wedding day and who have thanked us for truly understanding them.

These are women that have felt invisible, ignored and not at all catered for. They feel almost talked down to. It’s a much bigger story than just makeup.

What impact do you think society’s attitudes to women getting older have had on women?

I’m not opposed to the word middle-aged, it’s a fact. But it’s dressed in so much negativity. The assumptions and stereotypes of middle-aged women and ageing are really negative. I’ve felt it.

It needs to change. We need to take a stand and show that we are not going to be invisible.

But doing that needs a big trigger from the media, film, music, fashion, beauty and lifestyle industries. Huge brands and companies have a responsibility to shift these perceptions.

It’s so interesting that the story is completely different for men. Take the workplace, for example. In the workplace, a mature man is associated positively, with kudos, wisdom, and gravitas. But with women the perception is negative. And it’s not just about how we look. Often, older women in the workplace are perceived as not being as capable of doing their job as someone who is younger. It’s almost offensive.

 

We have started to see some evolution in the public domain, through film and TV (for example Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies). The conversation is beginning to bubble to the surface. Have you noticed any positive impact of this?

Yes, I’ve started to see this influence come through. Music is now much more blended as is fashion. In my opinion, Zara is at the forefront – it’s a brand for the modern age.

Women today are more independent and much more opinionated. We have our own sense of agency. Our expectations are higher and we fundamentally feel that we matter.

 

On the other side of the coin, the forty plus woman is still not comfortable in her own skin as it is today. Our research showed that women consider themselves at their most beautiful and attractive during the decade before their current age.

That’s interesting. Is that how they see themselves, or is that what society has determined they should see? In Eastern cultures, lines and wrinkles are part of your history. They are laughter lines. They part of who you are. Your journey. We need to get to that stage.

At Studio 10 we are pro age. Why do we use make up or die our hair? Is it because we want to look younger? And if so, are we just playing to society and not helping the cause? I don’t think so. I do those things not because I want to look younger, but because I want to look the very best version of myself. And that’s the key I think.

 

What role do you think big brands play in this evolution? We mentioned that women see themselves at their most attractive during the decade before their current age, so big brands say they are just playing back the attitudes of this generation. Do you think these brands have a responsibility?

I do. Big brands have a social responsibility to society. They are the biggest influencers and have the biggest audiences.

The beauty industry comes under fire a lot for its marketing. Dior recently did an advertising campaign for an anti-wrinkle product and used Cara Delevingne as the model. We ran a poll and 97% of respondents agreed that Dior should have used a model with wrinkles. So, there is a big disconnect between marketing and advertising and what the end user wants to see.

For me it’s all about authenticity and respecting the audience. With social media, women now have a platform to speak out and they are really vocal. The Dior campaign had no authenticity. No lotion or potion is going to make us look like Cara. There was a disconnect, which I found mindless and patronising. It actually made me quite angry. Do they think we are not going to engage our brains? That we won’t realise looking like Cara is unachievable? There was a huge backlash.

But that’s not to say you have to use an older woman in every ad. Cara in a fashion ad works, the lines are more blurred, I can still resonate. After the Dior campaign we saw beauty industry say, “we have to use an ageing woman in an ad because were being attacked”…and then they pull out Helen Mirren. Helen is amazing and inspirational but she doesn’t necessarily resonate with me either. It’s about being authentic and understanding modern women today and their views, emotions and lifestyles. That’s where the disconnect lies.

 

Our research also showed that 80% of 40+ women said they rarely or never see women of their age in advertising.

That’s just not acceptable. What you are trying to do with an advertising or marketing campaign is connect. Build a relationship. Build trust with your audience. You have to understand and respect them to do that. It has to be authentic or it doesn’t have the desired effect. If it’s not authentic there will be a backlash now we have a platform to voice our opinion.

The 40+ audience are such an important financial powerhouse for brands and in many cases, they are being ignored. Their needs and wants are not met and they are not recognised. But women over 40 now have such a voice coming from their place of confidence. How do you think this generation has evolved over time?

At the core is an independence. Women are having children later in life, establishing themselves more in their career and seeking financial independence. They don’t want to give that up. We are also much more emotionally independent than our mothers. We believe fundamentally that we matter. The traditional role of a women is as a carer, to create the home and serve everyone around us. We still want to do that, but at the heart of it we matter as well and want our own independence.

 

We also have incredibly high expectations of ourselves, our role and how we live our lives. We have fought hard to get to where we are and to be successful. Brands don’t reflect those expectations in the same way. They don’t reflect the confidence of that woman. That’s the next step.

I totally agree. It comes across to women as condescending and patronising. Brands have to be careful now. Love or hate digital and social media there is a platform for women to be vocal.

I hope we start to make a difference. There is a social responsibility of media, fashion, big companies and brands that have touchpoints with society at every level, to embrace women as they age. And embrace the beauty of ageing.

Finally, how do you see this debate continuing? How would you like to see the narrative for these women change?

It’s beginning to change, as you mentioned earlier with certain TV programmes, movies etc recognising older women. That said, I’m impatient and don’t think it’s happening quickly enough.

I have a friend in her 40s who is an actress and she is considered too old to play someone in their 40s. So, they use someone in their 30s instead. It’s bonkers!

I’d love for the debate to continue and to visibly see it pull through into advertising and marketing.

 


Thank you to Grace Fodor for sharing her Studio 10 story and her experience of the perceptions of beauty and ageing with us. You can read more about Grace’s take on the beauty industry over on her blog Ageing with Grace’.

Find out more about our work in disrupting the way brands and society think about women at www.wearesuperhuman.co.uk.


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