Spice Girls' Wannabe turns 20: Secrets behind the 'Girl Power' brand

This week marks 20 years since the Spice Girls released their debut single, Wannabe. In the five years that followed, Posh, Baby, Scary, Sporty and Ginger transformed themselves from just another girl band into a world famous brand with a dedicated following. Campaign caught up with industry leaders to ask how and why girl power went global.

Anna Carpen, 18 Feet & Rising’s executive creative director, recalls the impact that the Spice Girls’ motto, "Girl power," had on her at the age of 10: "You can argue that 'Girl power' was just a brand idea, but it only works if that brand believes in what it’s saying."

Between 1996 and 2001, the band made $800m (£599m) through major brand endorsements with the likes of Polaroid, PlayStation and Pepsi. 

According to Lizzy Pollott, Havas Sports & Entertainment Cake’s associate creative director, the Spice Girls’ authenticity played a key role in attracting brands: "It was before things like Snapchat existed so a lot of what we saw back then was carefully controlled, and [the Spice Girls] completely railed against that.

"By association brands could feel connected to their audiences," she says. 

"They were the ultimate umbrella brand," says Marina Cheal, Reevoo’s chief marketing officer. "They took over the world when it came to merchandising as well as sponsorship, and I don’t think we’ve seen that level of celebrity endorsement since."