Recently I talked with Amy-Willard Cross about the problems with stereotyping women in advertisements. We discussed The Buchanan Test and why so few commercials can pass this simple test for stereotyping women in your ads.
"While the advertisements of some companies such as Underarmour’s, Michelob Light, and Tide Superbowl have passed her test, Buchanan has found that the subservient mother role is the most popular portrayal of women. She points to drug commericials, for instance, in which men are typically shown doing exiciting things like mountain biking, whereas the women were shown buckling children into a car or doing yoga. Do women not do anything else in their lives, she wondered. Hence the origin of the Buchanan Test."
Recently, my 13-year-old lab mix had a bout of pancreatitis. She was in the vet for two days. During that time, I had to give a presentation to a health care company about marketing health care products and services to women.
What immediately struck me was the similarity between marketing health care to women and marketing veterinary services to women.
Women are responsible for the majority of their family health care decisions. Women are also the majority purchasers of pet products and veterinary services. According to the 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, three-quarters of primary shoppers for pet products are female.
Marketing veterinary services to women - what women want
Whether it's a two-legged family member or a four-legged family member, women want similar things from their doctor and veterinarian. They also have similar complaints. Here are some of the top issues for women:
Imagine sitting down for a couple of hours of TV viewing, and every commercial stars positive, non-stereotypical women (aka women outside of the home, in a role other than mother and NOT doing yoga). The shows feature women as the heroes of their own stories. Time after time a woman comes in and saves the day. The women are brave, smart, and funny, and while they may look great, they aren't there simply as sexy background to boost the egos of men.
You walk away from the experience feeling euphoric, relaxed, confident, and valued. Commercial after commercial, show after show, you think, "Wow, I'd love to be just like that character (her)."
So if there was a drinking game where you had to take a sip for every guy featured in a Super Bowl commercial, you would have been plastered. If you had to take a sip for every woman featured, especially a woman in the lead, (and not just a sexy distraction) you would have been pretty darn sober.
Except for the beautiful glorious exception of half-time. Beyonce rocked the house! I actually think even the band members were all women.
That said, what were the Marketing to Women best Super Bowl commercials of 2013?
Let me start by saying I think Volkswagen's advertising is brilliant. I've written about their TV commercials many times on this blog with nothing but praise. Their advertising is full of real people we can all relate to, and is genuinely emotionally engaging.
So I was disappointed by Volkswagen's 2013 Super Bowl Get In Get Happy commercial (being previewed now) featuring a strange white guy walking through an office speaking in a Jamaican accent. The general complaint about the commercial is that it is racist. I'm not sure if I would call it racist. (Volkswagen says they tested it with over 100 Jamaicans)
Is it original? Yes. Is the sticky bun line funny? Yes. I just don't think it makes a genuine emotional connection. I just can't relate to that freaky dude.
Ok, I just gotta say it - to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler - WOOOOOOOT!
I am not one to sit through a whole awards show, but I did not want to miss a minute of the Golden Globe Awards last night hosted by the dynamic duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud like that.
Somewhere in the mists of time, two women may have emceed a major awards presentation. But we're pretty certain that as hosts of the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are setting a new historical precedent. If nothing else, they're the funniest women to ever host a major awards show.
I hope all you marketers were watching the show and paying attention. There were several interesting moments and themes around women that were extremely insightful.
What marketers can learn about women from the Golden Globes
This is not an expression you ever want to see on your financial professional's face, especially if you are a woman.
Want to turn a woman off? Want to make her feel unsafe? Want to make her instantly dislike you? Say or do something judgemental.
Here's copy from an ad from a male financial advisor on a women's business owner site:
Are you frustrated by the fact that your finances are out of control?
Do you struggle to make sound decisions regarding your finances?
You’re just too busy keeping up with life’s other demands. Family, work, leisure time, health and hobbies are important priorities
Now I know hitting pain points in an ad is a powerful way to get someone's attention. But be very careful about saying something that comes across as judging her or shaming her, especially when it comes to the two "M"s - Motherhood and Money.
Here's a suggestion for rewriting the copy above to still be powerful, but less judgmental.
When I look back on the highlights of marketing to women for 2012, there are surprisingly few. But I do see some interesting and encouraging trends which will set the stage for success and failure in 2013.
Here are my marketing to women predictions for 2013
Marketing to Women Prediction #1 - Less Stereotyping
When you look at recent literary/movie/TV successes, you will notice a trend. Here's a hint:
Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games)
Lisbeth Salander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series)
Bella Swan (Breaking Dawn)
Alicia Florrick (The Good Wife)
Emily Thorne (Revenge)
What do all these femal characters have in common? They break through stereotypes. They take chances. They are the heroes of their own stories. Advertisers should take note. Are you stereotypping women in your ads? Find out by taking The Buchanan Test.