Bravo to Secret deodorant. Its $500,000-plus donation to the world champion U.S. women’s national team (USWNT) in support of equal pay is a lesson to brands looking to demonstrate purpose and authenticity, and drive top-line results.
I've never been loyal to any one deodorant brand. That changed today. Thank you @SecretDeodorant to supporting women and equal pay.
— Diane Kispert (@dmkchitown) July 14, 2019
“The USWNT’s perseverance and teamwork throughout the games impressed the Secret team and inspired us to put our money where our mouth is,” said Secret associate brand director Sara Saunders. “Whether the USWNT came home champions or not, Secret would have made the donation to the players association as part of the brand’s continued commitment to advocating for equal pay on behalf of the USWNT and women everywhere.”
Secret donated $529,000, or $23,000 for each of the 23 players on the team, to help close the pay gap with men’s players and encourage other sponsors and brands to join it in the fight for equal pay. The decision didn’t require many internal conversations at Secret, Saunders said.
“We had widespread support to make this gift to the women,” she said. “But we wanted to do it in a way that encouraged others to join us in this mission toward equality for women, which is why we waited until Sunday.”
Secret, a sponsor of the team, has been advocating the closure of the gender-pay gap since November 2018, when it launched the star-studded I’d Rather Get Paid campaign featuring advocates such as Sophia Bush and Samira Wiley. It began supporting the USWNT in March, when it filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, insisting it deserved the same pay as its male counterparts.
In June, Secret created a short-form documentary that aired on CNN featuring USWNT star forward Alex Morgan, former player Abby Wambach and experts in the space telling the story of the fight for equal pay.
“As we saw the women win and some of the ongoing conversation, we felt like we needed to do more,” Saunders said about the timing of Secret’s donation. “We [realized it was] time for us to take action against something we’ve had a strong point of view with as we have watched these women prepare for the World Cup. We felt like it was deserved and earned by them.”
The brand also paid for a full-page ad in The New York Times on July 14 to announce the donation and call on others to join the cause. Saunders said Secret wanted to ensure its message focused on the players, their accomplishments and the brand’s point of view on equality.
“CNN reached out to us because they knew about our partnership [with the team],” she said. “They released the first coverage at 4:30 a.m. EST on Sunday, before the print ad actually hit circulation. From there, it was picked up by close to 500 outlets.”
Secret also used social media to announce the donation, seeing high engagement on Instagram.
“It has been our best-performing Instagram post to date,” Saunders said. “We have seen high engagement from some of the earned coverage we got as well. Once the Associated Press picked up the story on Sunday, the syndication from that across top-tier news outlets was huge.”
View this post on Instagram
Equal Work. Equal Sweat. Equal Pay. As a brand for women run by women, Secret wholeheartedly believes women should not have to sweat being paid fairly. We have supported this history-making team all year long, and we are focused on driving advocacy and action for systemic change. Today, this change begins with us doing our part to help close the gender pay gap with a contribution of more than one-half million dollars – $529,000 to be exact – to the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association. This figure is inspired by the strong women of the @uswnt and is the equivalent of $23,000 for each of the 23 players. As a partner of U.S. Soccer, we recognize this is a multi-layered issue, and we look forward to working with the USSF and the @uswntplayers to help recognize that equal work and equal sweat deserve equal pay for all. #WeSeeEqual #EqualPay #PayThem #USWNT #USWNTPA #DontSweatFairPay #ASNS
— Front Office Sports (@frntofficesport) July 14, 2019
Morgan and teammate Allie Long also shared the donation news on their social media channels, as did broadcaster Katie Couric.
A lot of brands talk but Secret walks the walk. Thank you for this ⬇️, and for being such a great partner. https://t.co/Ys9NgxXoRh
— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) July 15, 2019
Powerful, Bold, Brave. It’s companies like @SecretDeodorant and @LUNAbar who have not only spoken about equality but have given a solution towards the issue. So a massive THANK YOU, for not just saying you believe in equality but showing that you do. 🇺🇸❤️ https://t.co/sB55SmSsjz
— Allie Long (@ALLIE_LONG) July 14, 2019
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) July 15, 2019
DeVries Global is working with Secret on the push.
Saunders said the campaign has received a very positive reaction internally, with P&G’s female staffers showing their appreciation for Secret’s efforts.
“Coming in on Monday, one of our admins came up to me,” Saunders said. “She had heard [about the donation] on the radio on the way in. She gave me a hug and was just excited to see that her company would stand for something like this.”
This article first appeared on PRWeek.com.