C&A – Inspiring Women 2016

C&A Inspiring Women 2016

Global fashion retailer C&A wanted to improve employee engagement by integrating staff, across South America, Europe and Asia, into its programme of philanthropic activity supporting women around the world. After a successful event in 2015, they came to us to create a new campaign that would generate improved rates of participation and counter some of the technological and logistical issues that they had faced previously.

Our response was spearheaded by a coherent visual identity system and delivered by a totally new technological framework. The response was astonishing with an average participation rate of 78% and €398,390 donated to women’s charities.

Project stats


Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, UK, Switzerland, Turkey, Vietnam


Philanthropy in Action / Evil Donkey / Tonic Productions


6 months


Digital consultancy / Copywriting / Logo / Visual Vocabulary / Printed Toolkit collateral / Presentation / Website / Branded merchandise

The challenge

For C&A, the overwhelming majority of their employees, their supply chain workforce and their customers are female. It is entirely authentic and relevant then that C&A chose to focus their philanthropic efforts on supporting charities that protected, educated and empowered women across the globe.

C&A have a relatively youthful workforce and they come to the workplace expecting high standards of social and ethical behaviour from of their employers. However, just because a programme has a charitable intent, there is no guarantee that employees will automatically be engaged and enthusiastic – there are many competing demands on their time and attention.

Great engagement programmes minimise barriers to entry: we had to grab potential participants attention; make taking part easy and convenient so that it fitted in with employees’ everyday activity; and make it fun enough so that participants were willing to share the experience with their colleagues.

We also had to overcome the technological and cultural challenges thrown up by the fact that the campaign was global. For example, the data networks in each country varied widely in terms of speed and coverage, levels of smartphone ownership were inconsistent and in some places local social networks were far more popular than global services such as Facebook or Twitter. Culturally, we had to cater for 9 different languages and varying levels of literacy.

We had a lot of people to please, Philanthropy in Action was the driving force behind the campaign and we also had stakeholders from the C&A business and C&A Foundation to take into account. Our benchmark for success was to improve on the participation rate of 51% that had been achieved the previous year.

Campaign elements

Campaign strategy and management

Swing tag 2016 logo

Speech bubble campaign theme


Champions guide

Story detective pad

Selfie cards and voting slips

Promotional material

Campaign website

Analytical feedback

2017 action plan and roll out over 22 countries

Initial campaign poster ideas

The process

Our first tasks were to finalise exactly what we needed participants to do and explore alternative technological platforms that could be used as the foundation of the campaign.

A combination of group creative sessions, individual design sprints and rapid testing delivered the core mechanic. In depth research into cross-social network data aggregation proved conclusively that running a global campaign via different and incompatible social media channels would deliver less than optimum results and be prohibitively expensive. The answer had to be a bespoke responsive website.

For the campaign branding, we initially explored a spectrum of logo ideas that moved form in line with the existing C&A corporate guidelines to an entirely independent identity endorsed by C&A.

We also developed three alternative visual vocabulary themes, one based on an extrapolation of elements from the C&A logo another based on fabric textures, and a third based on an internationally recognised icon for communication – the speech bubble.

Once consensus had been achieved we rolled out the chosen theme across all the Toolkit items, presentations, social media channels and the website – in all nine different languages.

Mobile first wireframing

The solution

The agreed campaign mechanic involved participants using a Thank You card to either write or draw their tribute to a woman who had taught them something important. Once completed, they were asked to photograph themselves with the card and upload the image to the campaign ‘Selfie Wall’ – along with minimal personal details and a written tribute to their chosen woman.

Each Thank You card also contained a voting slip that was used to choose which charity would receive their donation. These were collected and counted by Store Champions and the results collated and added to the website centrally.

 The swingtag logo was quickly agreed upon. This motif had been introduced the previous year, but as an ancillary graphic device. It made for a robust identity that could pretty much be thrown at anything without risk of legibility being impaired. It also provided an undeniable link between the campaign and the C&A’s core business activity. It will also provide an element of continuity as the programme continues in subsequent years.

The colour palette and typeface choice are drawn directly from C&A’s corporate visual identity guidelines. The choice to maintain a corporate aesthetic was a deliberate one – binding the campaign tightly to the overall mission, vision and values of the core business.

The speech bubble motif worked internationally as shorthand for shared communication – reflecting the ambition for participants to express their gratitude to the women that had inspired them. It also integrated their individual thank you cards into the overall dialogue.

This visual vocabulary was rolled out across a range of support collateral including posters, presentations, Thank You cards, videos, social media graphics and collectables such as pin badges and wristbands.

In order to keep the website lightweight and accessible even when network coverage was poor we eschewed bandwidth-hungry animated eye candy and focussed on the core task at hand – with the ‘selfie wall’ becoming the heart of the campaign experience.

In the background, we made sure that running the online campaign was not a burden on those tasked to manage it. Image and text moderation became automated with only those that failed moderation requiring any input from the campaign team. Measures were also introduced to minimise the display of duplicate or wrongly orientated images.

Campaign posters

  • "My mother has helped me to be confident, patient and open."

    Sourcing Bangladesh & Pakistan
  • "Tomika, my dearest friend in life, has taught me a great many things but I am most inspired by her generosity, perseverance, and boundless love."

    C&A Foundation Global
  • "Michelle teaches me to be confident in my skin. She encourages women everywhere. Young women hear her words and will grow up with different assumptions about their lives."

    C&A Foundation Global
  • "Kindness & love makes difference in our life, which makes our life more meaningful."

    Sourcing India
  • "Being honest in every condition is the best human behaviour. It helped me to stay encouraged, dedicated and glad in all parts of my life ."

    Sourcing Turkey
  • "My sister taught me to be positive even in worst phase of life."

    Sourcing Bangladesh & Pakistan

The outcome – Over two weeks 15,839 C&A employees took part. This was an average participation rate of 78% – up 27% on the previous year and a majestic 57% higher than the Fortune 500 benchmark participation rate for employee engagement schemes. This activity raised €398,390 for women’s charities across the globe.

out of the entire workforce that took part in the campaign

participation rate vs the 21% Fortune 500 benchmark

raised for NGOs to support women across the world

What happened next

Following the success of the 2016 campaign, we were commissioned to deliver Inspiring Women to the rest of C&A’s world in 2017. New challenges included: delivering the campaign in 23 languages; bringing the voting mechanism online; automating the image and text moderation process; and developing a campaign management dashboard so that the C&A Foundation team could monitor global participation, down to individual stores, all in real time.

In the last two years, 29,759 C&A employees have participated in the campaign and raised €972,390 for women’s charities around the world.

We are already hard at work developing the next campaign for 2018.