Diane Ridgway-Cross noticed a big gap in the market: advertising to women. As Executive Vice President of Marketel McCann, Diane led the creation of MarketELLE, a new division of Marketel to deliver marketing to women solutions. In the advent of her panel discussion on June 8, Women to Watch: How Three Female Executives are Reinventing the Advertising Industry, we asked her why we need to talk about the portrayal of women in advertising, and how her team is leading change.
By Diane Ridgway-Cross
It’s important to talk about women in advertising because today women unequivocally control the “power of the purse.” We make or influence more than three-quarters of all purchases—more than $20 trillion in spending globally. And, more than ever, women want to be recognized as powerful consumers and be portrayed in a way that truly reflects their reality.
Two years ago, when we launched our marketing-to-women specialty group, MarketELLE, we conducted a major nationwide study amongst more than 1,000 Canadian women to find out what turned them on—and off. Surprisingly, more than three-quarters of the women said that most advertisers are “missing the mark” when it comes to understanding women. And, the numbers are even worse when we asked moms the same question.
To dig deeper we asked them, “If you could give advertisers one piece of advice—what would it be?” And here are some of the things they told us:
“Don’t exclude us. We have money and are also interested in things like beer, sports and cars.”
“Some of us know more about what’s under the hood of a car than men do.”
“ Most of the big financial decisions made in the home are usually made by the woman – but no one seems to get that.”
“… using stereotypes as a crutch.”
“… using women as sex objects.”
“… painting things pink and assuming I’ll respond.”
“… making it look like my house, my life, my kids are or need to be perfect. We aren’t… and we don’t want to be!”
“… showing women dancing around happy about feminine hygiene products and yogurt. It’s ridiculous.”
“… making it look like some little product (like a dryer sheet) is magically going to change my life.”
“… using a soccer mom driving a minivan as a cue to say you get me as a mom. It’s trite.”
“Women are not a homogeneous group. Stop treating us that way.”
“Keep in mind the variety of ethnicities. Many of us feel invisible in your world of advertising.”
“What happens to women in advertising after the age of 40? Apparently, we buy adult diapers – and not much else! Even the wrinkle cream is marketed to the under-30 crowd!”
MAKE US LAUGH!
“Why is there no funny advertising for women? Why are guys the only ones who get to laugh?”
Clearly there is much work to do—that’s why we formed our specialty group, MarketELLE.