24. H&M : She’s a Lady

24. H&M : She’s a Lady

This blog forms part of our wider Brands Driving Positive Change blog series, we’ll be uploading a new post every week so keep checking back for the latest thoughts on what it means to be a force for good…

On 13 October 2016, the Swedish sustainable business association NMC awarded H&M’s CEO Carl-Johnan Persson with a sustainable leadership award. The brand’s #Ladylike campaign is certainly worthy of this prize, re-imagining both everything we expect from a high-street clothing brand ad, and from the words ‘lady like’.

It features no over-styled scenes of ethereal models, only a true variety of women wearing and owning H&M’s new season rather than letting it wear and own them. All expectations of a fashion ad and being ‘lady like’ are torn down and built back up in a new, refreshing way. The ad features Lion Babe’s Jillian Hervey, 72 year-old model Lauren Hutton, Thai boxer Fatima Pinto, design entrepreneur Pum Lefebure, and transgender model and activist Hari Nef, to name a few. H&M have partnered with women who reflect society, but who we never normally see in fashion advertising.

The campaign triumphs on multiple levels: consumers see H&M as a brand who is speaking to them, and they are encouraged to speak back with #Ladylike; H&M is associated and approved by some of the world’s most inspiring, strong, and unique female voices; and H&M decidedly joins a movement that aims to change what is presented to the public as ‘normal’ and ‘accepted’.

The campaign is less an advert than it is a statement. It does not so much represent ‘inclusivity’ and ‘diversity’ but rather the power of confidence and individuality, whoever you are – a message spread across the H&M brand, including in their new brand film.

Key learning: what ‘norms’ does your brand conform to that might not reflect its true values? How could it break away and make a statement?

Lucinda Toole Lucinda Toole