Brands

Can Anna Kendrick, Gloria Steinem, and Kate Spade Help Usher in a Better Era of Branded Content?

By Jessica Black September 18th, 2015

Here at The Content Strategist, we know it is our responsibility—nay, our duty—to call out brands that disingenuously use good causes to sell stuff. But we also want to celebrate the brands that actually know how to align themselves with a cause in a way that’s transparent and makes sense.

Enter: Kate Spade.

Last year, Kate Spade started producing shoppable digital shorts1 starring Anna Kendrick. Earlier this week, the company released the third entry in the series, this time with a special guest: feminist activist Gloria Steinem. Although the three-minute short is a little drunk on its own cuteness, it still manages to promote brand awareness and call attention to real issues.

In the video, Anna Kendrick, playing herself, gets miffed at a restaurant after the host tells her he gave away her usual table to someone else. But when Kendrick realizes that someone else is Steinem, she says, “Here I am worrying about my booth, and you’re out there trying to change the world”—a line that smartly minimizes fashion advertising by acknowledging that there is a world outside of $300 handbags.

When someone recently pointed out to me that Kate Spade is the epitome of basic white-girl-itude, I almost threw my pumpkin spice latte across the room. But then I realized he had a point. Kate Spade traffics in a bougie style that appeals to some modern millennial women. However, by producing great content with a clear message, the brand has managed to elevate itself above the standard materialism that we’ve come to expect from high-end advertising. In addition to the the video series, the company blog, Behind the Curtain, has become a prime example of great branded content, bringing an artistic perspective to the world of fashion.

Brands have to stand for something if they want to be remembered or taken seriously. That said, a number of companies fail at this and come off as self-important at best or completely obtuse at worst.

Can we take Kate Spade’s triumph this as a sign that ‘feminist’ is no longer a scary, off-putting word to consumers? Perhaps. This isn’t the first time a luxury fashion brand has aligned with a super badass woman. Earlier this year, Céline announced that prolific writer Joan Didion would be its new celebrity spokesperson.

Once brands—which are the more concerned with being liked than any other entity on the planet 2—get on board with a cause, you can be sure that it has permeated the culture enough to be a real movement. Could we become a brave new world of “Sheryl Sandberg for J.Crew” or “Hilary Clinton for Prada”? God willing.

  1. Viewers click on a link below the video to see all the products featured in the clip.
  2. Besides middle school girls and Ryan Seacrest.
Image by Kate Spade
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