This article first appeared in the 18 March edition of AdNews 'The Gender Issue' a themed edition that explored sexism and gender diversity in the advertising industry and marketing and is written by Bec Brideson.
Femvertising is rocking it right now. It beholds revelatory injustices and inequalities as a platform on which brands can get attention and engage their female audiences. They strive to stand apart from their less enlightened competitors and become category leaders in driving change that makes this a world women want to live in.
In doing so women buy their brand, because it resonates with their own values.
Leo Burnett is now famous for making inspiring and idealistic statements via their client P&G with the Always ‘Like a Girl’ TVC. But whether they are stuck in the 50s with regard to their own agency leadership is another matter. Or is it? A further irony in the proverbial fire is that P&G has a team of leaders that is also male skewed.
Cindy Gallop went for the knockout blow when she publicly declared, “the white men at the top have zero interest in reinventing the future”.
Welcome to marketing to women and the uphill battle I’ve been fighting since 2004. Gallop argues that when you have an homogenous group of men at the top of holding companies, with millions in their banks, they enjoy so much privilege with perks, profit share and bonus packages that they have no incentive to change the industry. You may have heard them referred to as 'male, pale and stale'. They are everywhere.
A male colleague suggested I should describe the disruption of the female economic force in terms of “Women coming to f*** you. But not in the way you want to be f****d”. His contention was if I talk tough like the men in the boardrooms I might actually get more traction.
It’s damn smart business to see brands embrace the new female consumer and take her to the next level of engagement. It’s even better to see what kind of results marketing to women strategies get.
Always’ ‘Like a Girl’ campaign showed a strong double digit percentage increase while most of its competitors saw declines. When brands actually embrace their female advantage they can expect leadership and growth. And men don’t need to do anything more than embrace diversity, enjoy the sharp focus on female consumers, and count the even stronger growth in the balance sheet.
Smart CEOs that have already started drinking from the $28 trillion female economy Kool-Aid have enjoyed leadership positions. Think Dove’s campaign for Real Beauty, L’Oréal’s ‘Women of Worth’ and Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’.
A bespoke marketing to women strategy is like drilling for oil. You tap the right vein and you’re rolling in it. But don’t think an apologetic 10% of the marketing budget will be the silver bullet.
It could be said the budget you allocate for engaging women is directly proportionate to how seriously you take the opportunity. You need C-suite strength and the leadership exec team to champion it with serious weight. It’s big business this “women’s stuff”.
Bec Brideson is consulting at BecBrideson.com