On Sunday the 8th of March 2020, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate all women and women’s rights. This years ‘theme was #EachforEqual and as usual, organizations sent out newsletters, social media posts and ads with different messages about that. And as with brand messaging and interpretation, there were some ambiguity and misrepresentation as these brands interpreted the theme in different ways and probably what equality means to them. From high heels and men’s shoes to lipstick and spanners etc., so many brands missed the mark in their interpretations and they received some flak for it. One of the brands who received the most heat was Wema Bank. 

Wema Bank sent newsletters to their customers and it seems the message it was trying to pass was completely wrong or completely misunderstood or was it just wrong timing? Popular journalist, Kiki Mordi led the charge against Wema Bank calling for everyone to boycott the bank but she also didn’t escape the fire that came with it. A lot of twitter folks rained vermin on her probably using the opportunity to do what they have always wanted to do. 

A day created to celebrate women, appreciate their uniqueness, applaud their efforts, give voice to the global pain that inequality brings, echo the demand for gender parity and more, turned into to a blame game and a huge gender war. After being called out, Wema Bank tweeted a quarter-baked apology that should not have seen the light of day and this worsened the situation for them. 

Their “apology” post reads “It seems that our #IWD message has been taken to be insensitive to some of our dear women. But our true intention is simply a call for all women to do better in supporting each other, correct the men who don’t see the evils of patriarchy, keep our voices high enough as we slay and let all know that the call for gender equality is a collective fight for us all. Once again, happy international women’s day. The bank wrote. 

Since when did it become solely a woman’s duty to call out the patriarchy? Who approved these posts? When you see big brands making such avoidable gaffes you begin to wonder if they have a functional and optimal corporate communications department. So, they made a huge blunder in their first messaging, did they handle the backlash properly? Could a simple and genuine apology have sufficed? Was this whole IWD fiasco the result of one person at Wema’s wokeness or corporate issues? 

Could they have avoided all the drama by celebrating exceptional Nigerian women from the bank’s or nation’s history? Would a simple happy international women’s day have sufficed? 

Was the messaging even appropriate at all? How did celebrating women turn into a blame game and twitter war? What could they have done better?
Here are a few brands who might have done a much better job at celebrating International Women’s Day. GLG’s IWD messagewas also a hit! (if we do say so ourselves.)