It’s Not What You Say . . .

It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it. This line has been a comic fall back for years in sitcoms looking at gender differences. But it is also one of the most important marketing concepts which is being expertly used in Emma Watson’s gender equality campaigning.

Emma Watson

There’s a slightly terrifying line in one of the songs from Tim Minchin’s Matilda. ‘What you know matters less, than the volume with which what you don’t know is expressed. Content has never been less important!’. And he’s not wrong.

Generating cut through for any message is difficult in this over-saturated media environment. We are exposed to thousands of different messages every day and will instinctively select what to actively pay attention to in a millisecond. So even if the content of your message is the most revolutionary phrase that the world will ever hear, if it isn’t expressed in an accessible and attention-grabbing way then no one will ever hear it.

Just think of your university lecturers. There are some presenters who can present their information in a motivating, exciting and invigorating manner where the whole class leaves inspired. Then there are others whose presentation style should be bottled and sold as sleeping pills. The content is less important in both of these situations than the manner in which it is presented.

The easy go-to in the marketing industry to solve this problem is hiring a celebrity. Creating a celebrity ambassador is a great way to grab people’s attention because if they admire this ambassador then they will tune into their messages. (And even be more likely to follow through on their recommendation!). But that is now the new normal with every product, service and experience placing a well-known celebrity front and centre for their marketing campaigns.

It is no longer who is presenting your message, it is how they present it. Something which HeForShe is using in their latest campaign with Emma Watson.

Emma Watson, star of Harry Potter and UN Global Goodwill Ambassador, has been the best marketing tool global gender equality organisation HeForShe could have used. Using her star power and immense respect around the world, Emma Watson has been able to bring gender equality campaigning to the forefront of media coverage over the last year. But the celebrity factor is having less of an impact because we have all been exposed to it for quite a while now.

So what about changing the way she delivers her message?

Last week, as part of the UN’s HeForShe Arts Week to raise gender equality awareness in the arts, Emma Watson teamed up with another artistic celebrity to send out her equality message. She freestyled with US rapper and Broadway composer Lin-Manuel Miranda. Emma providing the beats and Lin freestyling some lyrics over the top.

The freestyling is good, but the content isn’t the most revolutionary when it comes to gender equality. Yet this video has reached over four million people around the world in less than a week and subconsciously raised gender equality as an issue for them to think about. All because it is being expressed in a way which encourages people to tune in!

Powerful messages are important, and there should always be some substance, but getting your potential audience to tune in is much more important. Without that, then no one will hear your message!