Athleta Puts Emphasis On Sisterhood & Collaboration In ‘The Power Of She’ Campaign


The idea of “strength in numbers” is nowhere more apparent that in the female empowerment movement right now. For decades we have been sold the idea that to compete and dominate over one another is the way to success, unfortunately that is the patriarchal model of power and thankfully we have finally realized it does not work.

To truly be part of an empowerment movement where everyone feels equally valued, there has to be some shared idea of collaboration where everyone benefits. That’s not to say women should not aspire to positions of leadership, power and influence. The fundamental difference is where we come to a shared understanding of our unique abilities being amplified by a community of women, rather than just by ourselves.

This is the message of the very first Athleta TV campaign, ‘The Power of She’. The campaign features 4 video spots focusing on a group of women in 4 different activities: surfing, yoga, dancing and running. An introductory video outlines the message of the campaign, saying “we don’t hate, we collaborate” and “when we team up, everyone wins”.

The women’s active wear brand’s decision to focus on female empowerment is certainly no surprise. Following on form the advertising industry-changing “Dove effect” we like to call it, brands such as Under Armour, Always, and American Girl to name just a few.

What Athleta has done is take this one step further and tap into the unique strength that comes from community. In many sports wear campaigns, there is always a problem with a brand not representing enough body shapes, ages and ethnicities. It is a hard balance to maintain and one, if done right, can have a very positive ripple effect.

We think Athleta has done a great job at gathering a very international and diverse group of women in each video.

“This is the day we stand up for standing together. We commit to: Put an end to undermining. Live on the healthy side of competition. Lift our fellow sisters. Realize our limitless potential. Alone we are strong, united we thrive. Together we create the Power of She,” says the description on the first video.

In one of the short features, focusing on a group of surfers called the ‘Sayulita Surf Sisters’ we see female empowerment in action which is designed to make the viewer feel like part of a welcoming, positive community, and also get motivated to be a badass.

“Surfing, with women, is more of a social experience [than with men]. It feels good to be able to share the lessons that we learn in the ocean with other women. It’s amazing to see the first-time smiles when we are experiencing new things, getting past our fears, and living our dreams,” says Paola, one of the women featured.

The executives behind the campaign say they want Athleta’s message to resonate with girls aged 6-14 (their target demo) in a culture where they are bombarded with so much negativity about body image, perfection, sexuality and gender.

“Women and girls are still witnessing unhealthy competition, comparisons, and undermining amongst each other in schools, on playgrounds, and in the workplace. We wanted to create a movement that could unite women and girls by the core belief that alone we are strong, but united we thrive,” Nancy Green, president of Athleta told Refinery29.

We look at this campaign as not just a single female empowerment campaign, and certainly not just one brand amongst many who are now jumping on the femvertising train. We could choose to look at it like a for-profit company taking advantage of the important movement to empower women, or we could be encouraged at the way the advertising industry has chosen to flip the script on what it takes to make a sale.

No longer should it be about capitalizing on a woman’s low self-esteem, we are now in the midst of a huge push to show women that buying a product does not have to be synonymous with self-loathing. So we’ve chosen to believe this trend is one worth taking a closer look at and amplifying a positive message in a culture where it is so easy to have access to negative ones.

Another aspect of authenticity in Athleta’s female empowerment focus is their alignment with non-profit organization Girls On The Run. Athleta will donate $50,000 to the org and share real stories on empowerment on their website called ‘Sister Stories’ in conjunction with the GOTR message – to help every girl activate her limitless potential and boldly pursue her dreams.

“We’ve always been about empowering women through clothing and girls through [our partnership with nonprofit] Girls on the Run. We’re taking that positive power of coming together and inviting women and girls to stand together and collaborate and put an end to undermining,” said Elisabeth Charles, chief marketing officer of Athleta.

She also mentioned that the brand has been using ‘The Power Of She’ in their marketing since 2012, and back then it was about individual power, whereas today it as been evolved into meaning collective power among women.

“We are trying to be very specific around not just this broad empowerment, but really celebrating this idea of alone we’re strong but united we thrive,” she said.

We couldn’t be more excited about this trend that is happening, and we feel it is our duty not just to amplify these messages which can have a dramatic effect on the self-esteem and confidence of a young girl growing up in a digitally-saturated age, but also to continue to ensure brands accurately represent as diverse a population as possible.

Take a look at the story of the ‘Sayulita Sisters’ below:





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