Friday, March 9, 2012

Bank advertising ignores the female market - this is why

Men and women are different, and often have different values, due to a combination of biology and culture. Of course no woman is the same (as is no man) but as a generalization you can say there are some differences that are useful for marketers to be aware of. But it´s not the ones that adland thinks it is. In advertising, most times the female psyche is translated into:

  • a woman sooooo happy when cleaning with her Pine O Cleen products, as if scrubbing the bathroom is close to having a holiday in the Caribbean Islands. Bliss. Yeah. Wow. Who cares if the man is sitting on the couch, not bothering about the stains at all...
  • Or, the woman is simply Pretty, an object for men to be drawn to – as in: “if you buy this product you will be laid”. Think Axe...
  • Or, she is The Mum who never have any other concerns than her kids (and husbands) well-being.
  • Or, she is photo-shopped to flawlessness and robot like perfection, making all other women (those with pimples or wrinkles) depressed. L├ôreal...

Sigh. It´s advertising created by men. Young men. Straight out of school. Attracted by the free beer and cool agency office.

There are better ads out there, built on stronger insights. The other day I heard that the insight behind the Old Spice ad was that women are secretly attracted to black men, or have a fantasy in that area... I love it, and it explains why the campaign could be so successful. The insight has got layers. It´s got a conflict. It´s mysterious. It´s a little forbidden. It´s not about the target – it´s about the target´s target.

To find that kind of insight you can´t gather the team at the office for a brain-storm and think it will all be solved – tadaaaa. I met a strategy director the other day who believed that if you only had a strong team of suit, creative and planner, you could put those in a room together and come up with the idea... To me that kind of thinking is not only lazy and arrogant, but mainly disrespectful to the client. Dear strategy director, you are not God the almighty who sees everything.  

Great ideas are built on revelations, and those are intuitive understandings based on facts, stats, observations, stories and memories gathered either through life or through ambitious research. Of course, with age, you will find it easier to draw upon what you have found in the past, because your bank of information will be big, hence you will have a “healthy gut feel”, not swayed away by some irrelevant piece of facts you overheard at the pub or read in Cosmo. But even if I´m a pensioner in adland at 38 years of age, I would never settle with that, claim I´ve got "life experience". Every new brand and product deserves to be looked upon with fresh eyes.

Back to the women... I believe many campaigns are based on very simple insights on women – or on insights on men. This problem can occur when, as in the case of banks, you say the target is “affluent” –which means both men and women, and the campaign end up being targeted to men only. When you have the focus “affluent” it seems like the gender factor is forgotten.  

Today I read in Adweek that 84 percent of women feel misunderstood by investment marketers, according to a study by Yankelovich Monitor & Greenfield. 

-Women think about investing differently than men who get that adrenaline rush with the opportunity to make great gains, comments Lee McAdoo, director of women’s initiatives at TD Ameritrade. Women are less risk averse and better investors. It’s about investing for the people in their lives and the future.

Interesting. What bank will take this on? 

My other posts on marketing/advertising banks: 
Bank marketing amplifies our view of them as bad boys:

Banks don´t understand out relationship with money:

What is your view on this? I would love to hear. 

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