Changing the Face of Families

Studio Blvd reflects the changing nature of families in its SS19 Campaign for River Island

Alistair Green

Global CSO Studio BLVD


According to the Office of National Statistics less than one-third of families in the UK are categorised as traditional families. Instead most families today are single parent families, blended families, non-biological families, multi-ethnic families, multi-generational families, same-sex parent families and single-person families.

But the data doesn’t equate to how families are portrayed by society or by brands, who fail to depict families beyond the traditional stereotype. We felt this ‘family’ label needed to be challenged and River Island, as a family-owned brand, was perfectly placed to celebrate families of all shapes and sizes, to help redefine ‘family’ for the modern world.

River Island has always inspired people to express their individuality through their clothes. So, in 2018 Studio Blvd encouraged River Island to join a cultural conversation about self- expression by challenging outdated labels and stereotypes and celebrating inclusivity. And so, the award-winning #labelsareforclothes campaign was born, contesting outdated labels pertaining to gender identity, sexuality, age, size, race, culture and disability.

For SS19 we wanted to continue both challenging and celebrating through the campaign. Over the years, River Island has become a family lifestyle brand through the growth of its kids wear business and the launch of homeware. This meant the notion of family was something River Island was more qualified to talk about than any of its competitors.



Studio Blvd decided to develop a campaign which more accurately represented the true modern family featuring real and authentic families from around the UK and abroad. A hugely challenging casting brief was created for our internal casting team to find actual multi-ethnic families, single parent families, same-sex parent families, multi-generational families, single person families and families with mixed ability. We would represent the families that brands, and society generally ignore and celebrate the love, pride and unity that makes up a family, no matter what form it might take.

The campaign was digitally and socially led. Lovingly crafted family portraits were created and released online via digital and paid social as well as on River Island’s website and across all stores. On River Island’s owned channels, the family portraits were backed up by films of the different families talking about what makes them family.

The early results of the campaign which launched in February and will continue across March to July have already exceeded expectations. As soon as the first family portraits went up in-store and on River Island’s website, thousands of comments came pouring in. Nearly all pledge their love and support for the #ThisIsFamily campaign, although a minority don’t agree with non-traditional families being celebrated as traditional families. Though sometimes disheartened by negative comments, the fact that #ThisIsFamily is capable of starting a cultural conversation and debate exemplifies the power of the campaign.

The campaign has had a positive cultural impact but commercially it has also boosted traffic and sales. The campaign achieved widespread coverage in major publications including most of the national newspapers and the Huffington Post and was covered by all the major industry titles including Campaign, The Drum and Ad Age’s Editor’s Pick.

Studio BLVD, London
Guest Author

Alistair Green

Global CSO Studio BLVD


Alistair Green is the Global Chief Strategy Officer for Studio Blvd where he developed the strategy for the award-winning #labelsareforclothes and #thisisfamily campaigns for River Island as well as the #iamasweatybetty female empowerment campaign for activewear brand Sweaty Betty. Before Studio Blvd, Alistair was Global Planning Partner at Grey working across P&G / Coty's luxury fragrances, Head of Strategy at Mindshare working across Unilever, HSBC, Nike and Chanel and Planning Group Head at BBH working across Levi's, Johnny Walker and Burberry amongst many others. Alistair has contributed to some of the world’s most famous, award-winning and effective campaigns and has won IPA, APG, Marketing Society, Effie and Cannes Effectiveness Awards.

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