Why Misty Copeland is brands’ new favorite poster child
Misty Copeland is making ballet so mainstream she’s about to have a Barbie doll in her likeness.
The tie-up with Barbie — part of Barbie’s “Sheroes” program spotlighting women breaking boundaries — is the latest in a string of marketing deals she has struck with big brands like Dr. Pepper and Under Armour. Her inspirational story of overcoming numerous family, professional and health struggles has also been captured in a children’s book, a memoir as well as a documentary. Last year, she was also named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
“She’s overcome incredible odds and been a trailblazer not only in ballet but also society,” said Megan Hartman, strategy director at Red Peak Branding. “She is an ideal role model for brands in that she represents so many aspirational traits — strength, power, grace, determination and integrity. You couldn’t handpick better traits for a spokesperson if you tried.”
Here’s why Copeland is striking a chord among more and more brands:
She breaks conventions
Everybody loves an underdog. Being one of six children in a single-parent household who didn’t start dancing until the age of 13, Copeland was an underdog in every sense. On top of the late start, Copeland was a black girl in a lily-white field. Her short, curvy and muscular physique were atypical of dancers.
“Her power lies in her ability to innately be empathetic with others’ struggles and desire to succeed believing no challenge is insurmountable,” said Aaron Kwittken, global chairman and CEO of Kwittken. “She’s 100 percent real.”
Many wouldn’t consider ballet a sport, but Copeland exemplifies the broader definition of sports that brands like Under Armour are embracing. In the “I Will What I Want” campaign, Under Armour juxtaposed Copeland with a phoenix rising from the ashes — not letting a rejection letter discourage her, focusing on her strength and substance. Barbie, too, is looking to tap into her positivity and perseverance.
“We look to celebrate women who really embody the spirit of the brand,” said Michelle Chidoni, senior director of brand communications at Mattel North America. “Not only is she really culturally relevant but an amazing role model and inspiration for young girls.”
She champions what she believes in
Copeland hasn’t hesitated to speak her mind on a range of issues, including racism and body positivity. Last year, for instance, she acknowledged to The Telegraph that ballet had historically been racist. She mentors aspiring dancers and participates in programs to broaden ballet’s appeal. Much of this is rooted in her own struggles to find a place in a very insider world as an outsider.
“She speaks to the idea of empowerment from a place that accepts struggle, failure and falling down as a part of it, making her even more authentic,” said Carley Barton, copywriter at GYK Antler. “She wears rejection as a badge of honor.”
She is socially-savvy
Copeland crafts an affable and distinctive personality to her million Instagram followers. Her Instagram feed gives a glimpse into her daily life and professional announcements. She also proved her social prowess earlier this week when she did an Instagram takeover of People Style magazine’s account.
“She’s an incredibly powerful presence in social because people are naturally drawn to her story,” said Hartman. “The positivity, support and sense of community on her pages is overwhelming.”
‘Work as a set of activities, not a place’: How companies reducing the office footprint are reallocating capital
As many firms shrink their space, they are reinvesting in their tech infrastructure, in particular services that facilitate hybrid work and wellness.
‘No one’s going in blind’: Brands are bringing gaming and esports in-house
Brands like AB InBev, Nike, Adidas, Puma, Red Bull, PepsiCo, Manchester City, KFC have set up — or are setting up — specialist teams or roles for esports and gaming.
‘Going viral is not a strategy’: How Hotwire is leveraging online video and TikTok to reach its younger audience
To get in front of its new Gen Z audience, Hotwire is turning toward online video, with an emphasis on TikTok.
SponsoredHow the ad industry can use its borrowed time to future-proof first-party data solutions
Trent Lloyd, co-founder and head of brand solutions, Eyeota Google’s updated timeline for its Privacy Sandbox rollout, including its two-year delay of third-party cookie deprecation on Chrome, didn’t come as a surprise to many industry observers, given the limited utility of Google’s FLoC and the slow momentum of the Privacy Sandbox in the World Wide […]
‘There has to be an authentic manner in which you approach our fans’: T1 CEO Joe Marsh on brand partnerships in gaming and esports
Digiday reached out to T1 CEO Joe Marsh to learn about the philosophy and strategy behind the organization’s brand partnerships.
Member ExclusiveMarketing Briefing: Ad execs and marketers say this Olympics has ‘lost its luster’
The typical global fervor for the Olympics is lacking this year, making it less of a marketing must than in years previous. More in this week's Digiday+ Marketing Briefing.