Aspiration or Inspiration?
March 06, 2019 | BY Simcha Felder
In 2017, Fearless Girl, the statue that mysteriously appeared the night before International Women’s Day on Wall Street, reportedly generated close to $7.5 million in free marketing across TV, social media and radio, for State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), a financial advisory firm.
The image of the young girl with her hands on her hips facing down Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull went viral. Within the first 12 hours, the image was tweeted more than 1 billion times. Over the next 12 weeks, that number quadrupled as it garnered over 200,000 Instagram posts, as well.
Sounds like a big win for a company that happens to be the third largest asset manager globally. But, was it really? Before the campaign, there was little understanding of the company in the consumer space. Did this campaign change that for the better? Did SSGA achieve growth in the market?
One of the company’s values is promoting gender diversity. The campaign was intended to promote its SHE Fund, which invests in companies that have women in top leadership positions. The campaign picked up numerous awards, generated plenty of buzz and was ranked one of the most successful ever. Fearless Girl became an icon. From a financial standpoint, the reported investment of a rather modest $250,000 for a well timed marketing strategy that touched millions of hearts sounds like a big win. However, looks can be deceiving!
John Hegarty, himself a creator of classic Hall of Fame work for Levi’s, Volkswagen and Audi said this about the campaign, “Fearless Girl did what for the brand? I don’t know what brand it was associated with. Do you? Everybody got hugely excited… but we’ve lost connection…If I say to you “Rolls Royce,” you say, “Ooh!” You’re probably not going to buy one, but by talking to a broad audience who understands what your brand is about, you become part of culture.”
A year later, the conversation warranted a look back in the trade papers. SSGA was still working to stay true to their stated values, but they encountered many hurdles. Facing litigation, the company agreed to a $5 million settlement with the Dept. of Labor for discriminatory gender pay practices. Moreover, selling change to a market still unsure they want or need it is proving difficult. Asked about the results to date, an executive responded, “It was aspirational.”
Aspiring toward growth and improvement is a noble endeavor. But, for optimal growth, company values should be consistent, evocative and closely aligned with your product. Sharing that openly and honestly with your customers builds trust and loyalty. Marketing a vision that lacks integrity and reads as a ploy is bound to fall short of building consumer confidence or increasing your bottom line.
At Roth and Co, they don’t just aspire, they inspire…