Ad Insider - June 2007
Come in Barbie, your time is up
Why you haven't come a long way, baby.
Last month I spoke at a conference focused on marketing to women. One question raised was: "Why is there so little good communication aimed at women?"
Try this experiment for yourself: ask your colleagues for their top 10 marketing campaigns ever. Now decide how many are aimed at the female market.
The answer's probably zero.
Where's our Wassup!? Where's our Big Ad? And who do we think Singapore Girl attracts?
Women in Singapore now control 70% of all household purchasing decisions. But we can't say that 70% of advertising created here engages with women - and if it's not doing that, it's not effective.
One senior marketer told me recently that one of her issues was lack of budget devoted to this ‘segment'. Ironically, this ‘segment' is 50% of her customer base. Too many marketers assume that men buy cars, TVs, computers - all categories with big budgets. But go to any car showroom and you'll see couples, because Mum will use the car too. She'll also choose the computer for the kids.
Even when the product is clearly for women, we still don't get it right. Female category ads recycle the same old stereotypes: babies dancing, hot chicks rollerblading in white spandex, soppy girls gazing at the stars hoping their boyfriend proposes. Where's the insight? Where's the respect?
The lack of good planning in Singapore is something that's often discussed, but frankly, in this area we're just being lazy.
Of course, bad planning can be mitigated by a creative team that brings their own insight and passion to the work. Let's play another game: count the female creative directors in Singapore - there's a prize if you get more than eight. I'm not going to debate with Neil French why this is, but it does mean that 90% of all work is ultimately approved by men.
Now, it's not that men can't do great ads for women, but they need great insights to work with -- and in most cases they're clearly not getting them. I worked on one women's product launch where the female copywriter wrote copy that every woman on the team loved. The male CD didn't, rewrote it, and the campaign really lost something.
There are honourable exceptions; Levi's online; UOB's ‘The Men Don't Get It', and naturally, Dove. But to get more campaigns that really resonate with women, we have to do two things.
Firstly, we should stop using stereotypes. (And here are some tips for free: no one wears white at that time of the month, I just want my baby to sleep through the night, and what we really want in an engagement ring is for our friends to be jealous.) Real insights come from actually listening to women and investing in good quality research and planning.
Secondly, we need to grow the female talent in our creative departments. I believe that there's so much great beer advertising because most creatives are blokes who drink lots of beer. This gives them plenty of insights (and beer bellies). But these days, you name it, women are buying it. And I'm sure more female creatives would bring fresh thinking to campaigns in many markets.
And then, maybe, we might finally see a campaign for women that has a sense of humour. The Wassup! equivalent for Tampax, perhaps?
Managing DirectorRapp Collins
- Rapp Collins Pte Ltd