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Smirnoff: International Women’s Day

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The world of electronic dance music is a male dominated culture. The numbers do not lie: According to a sample study conducted by THUMP, women only made up an average 17% of headliners in 2016 at music festivals around the world. This gender disparity is only self – perpetuating as women lack role models – or any incentive - to join the profession. While gender inequality had become a popular topic of discussion across a variety of businesses on a global scale, it was not even mentioned in the music trade. Something needed to be done.

Smirnoff decided it was not enough to condemn the sidelining of women artists; it had to drive action and transform the industry through “Equalizing Music” – a global gender equality programme which aimed to double the number of female talent in just three years. This long-term commitment would ensure that women had exposure and access to the same opportunities, moving towards an inclusive – and fairer – music scene. As a worldwide catalyst of the nightlife and dance scene, having brought artists and fans closer for years, Smirnoff held the necessary credibility and scale to give a voice to unknown female talent.


Carat's idea was simple yet ambitious; deliver the cultural platform “Equalizing Music”. In order to maximise the impact of the campaign and trigger real change, it needed to start a conversation amongst different audiences in the music business: from artists and music industry professionals to fans as well as the mass audience. 

The platform was designed to generate strong awareness and drive action by seeding the gender equality message through a rich digital content environment. The agency partnered with two music giants, VICE and Spotify, who not only held the necessary authority within the dance genre but were known for being challengers, previously disrupting the status quo in the industry. They gave Smirnoff the perfect springboard to broadcast its message and build a deeper connection with consumers.   


“Equalizing Music” began with a push for industry partners to get involved. By signing a pledge, partners made a commitment to increase representation. Key industry leaders who have signed include Spotify, Pitchfork, iHeartRadio, Deltic Group, Mixmag, THUMP, Broadly, and Insomniac, the global leader in dance music and creative partner of Live Nation Entertainment. 

Together, these organisations are advancing gender representation across performance bookings, exposure in media and music availability

With VICE, the agency co-created a Top 50 Women Making Noise list as well as a documentary film “Equalizing Music”, which highlighted the challenges women faced in the music world. It featured two key artists – Chicago’s Black Madonna and Uganda’s DJ Rachael – who shared their individual stories and experiences in a male-dominated profession. Carat seeded the video content not only within VICE’s content hub but across other partner websites to achieve the necessary reach and drive awareness. 

With Spotify, it provided a platform for easy accessibility and discovery of female DJ tracks, allowing a deeper immersion into richer content to audiences who had expressed an interest. It created a special Smirnoff Top 50 playlist featuring music artists and seeded the AV content on the platform to engaged listeners. All assets held a CTA to enrich the experience by driving to other pieces of content such as local DJ events or behind the scene videos.  

In addition, the agency promoted the video content on YouTube across seven countries to audience segments that were especially engaged on the topics of gender equality, EDM and IWD. Using in-stream and TrueView discovery ads, it managed to truly capitalise on the cultural moment of International Women’s Day and created awareness for the cause and brand on a global scale.

The campaign was launched on International Women’s Day (8th March), announcing the brand’s message with a bang, driving high impact awareness and generating earned media coverage.   


The results prove that there is a major appetite for engaging, meaningful content on female artists. The campaign delivered x3 times the amount of planned video views due to extraordinary high completion rates and clicks to the content hub outstripped our CTR benchmarks by over +700%. The YouTube campaign beat any previous CVP and view benchmarks by a factor of x3.

Moreover, it achieved the primary business objective of the campaign – strengthening brand equity - as MWB tracking showed (extract of markets): 

• Strong lift in unaided brand awareness between +20.6% (YouTube) and +28.6% (VICE)
• Strong lift in purchase intent +14.6% (Spotify)

• Strong lift in unaided brand awareness (first mention) +17.8% and brand affinity +13.7%
• Significant uplift in brand attributes, +9.3% tastes better than other brands of spirits and +20.5% using music as a way to bring people together

• Significant uplift in brand favourability +17.2% and purchase intent +17.1% (Spotify)
• Significant increase in brand values such as taste (+13%), quality (+12%) and trend-setting (+10.5%) (Spotify)

Moreover, Smirnoff has made real inroads towards “Equalizing Music”: On the days leading up to, during, and after the campaign launch day, 15 DJs from the Top 50 Women Making Noise list were booked at local events around the world.

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