McCann Hosts Panel on Fearless Girl at Advertising Week
Wrapping up NY Advertising Week, McCann hosted a “What Can Marketers Learn from Fearless Girl?” panel with Devika Bulchandani, President of McCann New York, Eric Silver, Chief Creative Officer of McCann North America, and client, Stephen Tisdalle, Chief Marketing Officer of State Street Global Advisors. The discussion was moderated by Stephanie Paterik, Managing Editor of Adweek.
The panel kicked off with a discussion around the ideation process for Fearless Girl. Eric provided insight on the creative process including the reality that the project went through many rounds of evolution before landing on a bronze statue of a little girl. The final product—where considerations such as the artist selected for the statue, the materials used to create the statue and the statue’s exact positioning and stance—was perfected down to the very last detail. The result was a symbol “made for Instagram,” but nobody could have predicted just how viral and culturally striking it would become.
Devika said that initially, McCann and State Street were prepared for handling logistics and communications around a week-long campaign—not one that would last months and months, and may even reach (and hopefully exceed) a year. As a result, the PR planning around the campaign had very much been a day-to-day effort around new, sometimes unanticipated, Fearless Girl discussions in the media. One of the key factors allowing the campaign to respond successfully to new developments was having a great partner in State Street, a client who was receptive, flexible and right on board with everything that needed to be done, including many late-night conference calls.
Eric added, however, that the most brilliant strategic communications response to all of the press (both positive and negative) around the campaign was to not respond at all, but rather to let the public discourse drive discussion and ultimately resolve itself. In the end, McCann or State Street did not drive the public narrative—the statue spoke for itself and brought hundreds of thousands of people around the world to share their opinions, driving organic, productive conversations around the campaign.
Stephen Tisdalle said one of the traits of a remarkable campaign is the organic factor— the campaign itself was done on a relatively small budget, and the public and press were the ones to drive conversation around it. He also mentioned that because of the tight turnaround required to finish the Fearless Girl in time for International Women’s Day, it required a lot of faith that everything would fall into place perfectly. Once in production mode, there was hardly time to inspect and double-check every step of the statue-creating process; everyone just had to trust that the team. Looking back, if any single part of the campaign, from the statue’s placement to obtaining permits to timing the installation, had fallen through, Fearless Girl may not have had the type of impact that she has. In retrospect, it was a big risk that everyone had taken. We think it was worthwhile.