- Athleta today is debuting the latest commercials in its ongoing "Power of She" advertising campaign, which showcases women and girls working out and competing in the Gap Inc.-owned athletic apparel retailer's products, but also is intended to promote female empowerment and strength through collaboration.
- The ads feature various stories about women and girls who serve as sources of strength for the their communities. One ad stars nonagenarian "master yogi" Tao Porchon-Lynch, demonstrating that "strength looks amazing at age 98," according to Athleta President Nancy Green, quoted in Fortune.
- Green also said the athleisure brand is continuing its commitment against Photoshopping the models used in the "Power for She" campaign. "We always want to represent women as their true, authentic self," Green said.
It probably says something about me and the particular generation of men that I'm a part of that I used to write off this type of advertising as a shameless and cheesy attempt to get women to buy things — and nothing more. But then many of us eventually became the fathers of young daughters, and realized the great number of ways in which society is designed to keep women down. And then we started looking for opportunities help them find strength wherever they can.
Athleta still wants women to buy things, of course, but the "Power of She" campaign seems like more than just the latest move in the "fem-vertising" trend. It puts its powerful messages and stories upfront, along with images of a wide variety of women and girls speaking those messages, while displaying its banding in subtle ways, and saving its logo for the end of the ads.
Athleta first rolled out the "Power of She" campaign in April 2016, so if it's still telling new stories after roughly nine months, maybe it's working. Athleta actually has been one of the bright spots in a very down year for its corporate parent Gap, and in an up-and-down year for athleisure brands overall.
For example, fellow athleisure brand Lululemon has seen weaker results as athleisure has started to lose some of its cultural currency. Some athleisure brands will try to stave off tough times by investing in new product lines, and by taking their brands in new directions. Athleta's effort to empower women seems to have some pretty pure intentions, but a byproduct of that could be stronger customer relationships and an overall more positive brand identity, aspects which may help Athleta power through the next phase in the evolution of athleisure apparel.