Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why the mix of female and male energies leads to powerful marketing campaigns

Are women annoying to men in the workplace?
Yesterday I had a brief discussion with a guy on twitter who was asking why women apologize without having done anything wrong. I replied that it may be because women tend to seek harmony and balance, and when “apologizing” we are actually checking what others are thinking, making room for their opinion, kind of saying “it´s ok if you think differently from me”. For women this creates a safe environment for ideas to grow and emotions to be shared.
Another reason to why we don´t shout out our opinion is that we consider nuances and grey zones. We see the details and the emotional complexity, and when a male culture wishes to shorten and sharpen, we see the benefit of telling a story and kind of sending an energy message rather than a headline.
It can sometimes be annoying! I´ve been sitting through endless of hens party planning meetings, where nobody dares to put down the foot and decide; instead everyone says “no, whatever you want”. Among friends we don´t want to be the bitch who is too dominant and pushy. It creates a lovely atmosphere, but can at times be challenging, since you spend so much time pottering around an issue without solving it.
We are different, and we also get judged differently.
Victoria Brescoll and Eric Uhlmann at Northwestern University did three separate studies in 2008 that showed how people accept and even reward men who get angry but view women who lose their temper as less competent.
In all studies, both men and women were shown videos of actors portraying men and women who were ostensibly applying for a job. The participants in the studies were then asked to rate applicants on how much responsibility they should be given, their perceived competence, whether they should be hired, and how much they should get paid.
Both men and women in the reached the same conclusions: Angry men deserved more status, a higher salary, and were expected to be better at the job than angry women.
Source: Psychological Science 19: 268-275 (March 2008)
Men and women can´t behave in the same way and get the same response. A woman who acts “against her nature” will be punished. But the frustrating part is that she can´t be who she is either. When soft and feminine she is often considered weak and blurry. 
In advertising we often work with “creative briefs”. The planner interprets the brief from the client, figuring out what the brand is all about and how it fits into the target´s life, where it can serve and give value. Then (at least in Australia) the strategic planner pens down thoughts on insights, trends and ideas on a one-pager (preferably) and hand this over to the art director and copywriter who interpret this brief and create magic out of it. Tadaaaa!
This way may work for men. But to me with my female brain it´s ridiculous!! Planners spend days reducing their truckloads of research and findings into a concentrated form, fine tuning their briefs into as few words as possible – the Correct Words. Instead of being inspiring, telling stories, giving the creatives a feeling, we are supposed to find the Correct Words that will then turn into a winner in Cannes. Lots get lost.
In Europe this is the old way of working. Today you need to team work, to connect on an emotional level rather than with The Correct Words, and it´s so obvious people are much more complicated than we can ever imagine, that the one-page brief instead is presented as a story – you know like those mind capturing ones that you listen to and leave with a revelation... Aha!! They might be longer than an A4 page, but far more powerful, landing softly deep in our heart.
Men might find it annoying when a women is not “to the point” because he is trained in his peer group to find the Correct Word. A woman find him annoying because she is trained to be softer in her advice, more flexible and open minded. 
I think advertising must move in a female direction. When people no longer believe in authorities you can´t sell slogans, since they are like orders. We must be novelists rather than non-fiction journos.
Mandela is one of the greatest story tellers, which made him a natural leader. 
From the book “Conversations with myself”:
“ In real life we deal not with gods, but with ordinary humans like ourselves; men and women who are full of contradictions, who are stable and fickle, strong and weak, famous and infamous, people in whose bloodstream the muckworm battles daily with potent pesticides.”
“On which aspect one concentrates in judging others will depend on the character of the particular judge. As we judge others so we are judged by others. The suspicious will always be tormented by suspicion, the credulous will ever be ready to lap up everything from those taking advantage of the vulnerable. The vindictive will use the sharp axe instead of the soft feather-duster. But the realist, however shocked and disappointed by the frailties of those he adores, will look at human behaviour from all sides objectively and will concentrate on those qualities in a person that are edifying, which lift your spirit and kindle one´s enthusiasm to live.” 
Don´t judge each other - bring out the best in all. There is no wrong or right, just bits and pieces of both, and when management mixes and matches between the male and female we will get powerful campaigns.
Pst... In this blog post I generalize a lot... I´m male some days too :) I´m sorry if I annoyed you (hahaha...)

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