March 14, 2017
Last Tuesday, March 7, one of the heavy-hitters in the agency business, McCann New York and their client, State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), quietly introduced a new statue, “The Fearless Girl,” to the famed charging bull of Wall Street. Chances are you’ve already heard about it - the installment gained instant blanket media attention. It’s also peppered across social channels and the statue itself has a consistent, dedicated crowd; each looking to grab their turn at a selfie. Just check out the live bull cam.
So why did they do it? What’s the motivation? ADWEEK wrote a story on why the agency and its client ‘dropped’ the statue. In short, they hoped to symbolize the power of women in leadership and intentionally tied the stunt to International Women’s Day last Wednesday. The agency chose a girl instead of a woman to create something “relatable” and “universal.” Their approach aimed to capture a “David and Goliath sentiment” with a calculated placement in front of the menacing and significantly larger bull of Wall Street.
Both the agency and client indicated through statements that they were trying to inspire others in taking steps to increase women’s leadership. Although these statements are all heavily prepped for the media, it’s clear that this campaign’s sole mission was not driving revenue or drawing overt attention to the company’s offerings. Of course the company has a relevant, even obvious, connection to supporting women with an ETF [exchange-traded fund] called SHE, which only invests in companies with women in leadership. But look at what’s really happening here: they’re working incredibly hard to create something grander. A movement that connects deeply with our emotions, a moment that won’t be forgotten anytime soon, a visual that will make its way to countless personal social feeds.
Make no mistake - this kind of stunt requires huge dollars: A big New York agency, the commissioning of a sculptor, securing the permits, arranging the installer etc. etc. There’s no question that all parties involved needed to think about the bottom line and the long term impact. That said, the team involved got the bigger picture here - they knew they were onto something big and they knew that they could create something that would continue to live on for a very long time. It’s the convergence of something emotional and something we can connect to that leads us back to the brand in a much more powerful way.
There are so many things that we love about this campaign. The incredible work of art from sculptor, Kristen Visbal, that so perfectly demonstrates a strong girl running up to face the bull. The impeccable timing of this installment with International Women’s Day. The deep emotional connection they were able to achieve by choosing an innocent girl - especially coming from my perspective as a dad of 5 daughters. And an overarching goal of something far grander than ROI.
Thanks for your leadership SSGA and McCann - you taught us how to be fearless in so many ways.