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Well saying he’s ‘written a post’ is abit of an exaggeration because all he’s really done is show a commercial … but it does raise a massive point as regards communicating to women.
Recently I got asked by a journalist what I thought were the ‘tricks’ to communicating effectively to women … and my simple response was to stop treating them as either bimbo’s, Mum’s or ball breakers.
One of the things I hate about my industry is its obsession with the ‘lowest common denominator’.
I appreciate our job is to help our clients get rich so you need an idea that has relevance to the widest group of people as possible, but to treat the genders in such basic terms is offensive and makes a mockery of planning, insights and creativity.
Just like men actually aren’t all slobs, fools or hunks … women aren’t all one-dimensional individuals … however if you look at the majority of communication today, that’s exactly what you see.
A while back I watched a great documentary called Z Channel.
Z Channel was a pioneer in the US cable television industry and was instrumental in developing people like Quentin Tarantino’s love of films.
One of their philosophies was to target the highest common denominator rather than the lowest – resulting in them showing one of the most mixed bag of movies you could ever imagine in your life – because they said they would rather have smart, influential people watching their programmes than a bunch of folk who only have it on as background noise.
There was method to their madness because not only did it result in more and more people actually subscribing to their channel … but their ad revenues went through the roof as more and more advertisers paid huge premiums so that they could ‘speak to’ this highly influential group of consumers.
And here’s the thing … the ad industry needs to start adopting this approach before it’s too late.
This focus on gutter insights and communication is doing everyone harm … the clients, the agencies and the consumers … because less and less people are paying any attention to what we are saying anymore.
The industry is becoming over reliant on special effects to ‘stand out’ because the messages we express tend to be limited to a bunch of ‘product features’ [that the client is insistent on spouting] rather than a simple message [or story] that is interesting, relevant, entertaining, true [to the product and the consumer] and motivating.
One of the greatest projects I’ve ever worked on was a tampon brand in Australia.
Over 6 months I watched the entire age spectrum of tampon users/buyers talk about all elements of their lives [and for girls starting their periods either earlier or later than everyone else, it was heartbreaking hearing the suffering and self doubt so many of them went through] and one thing was very, very clear – they didn’t want television commercials, especially those that talked about ‘product features’ or ‘freedom to parachute from a plane or forget all rollerskate down the street in your hotpants.
This was especially prevalent with younger women … who were often incredibly embarrassed if a tampon commercial came on while they were in the company of male members of the family.
Infact our recommendation was that if any television commercial HAD to be made, it made no reference to ‘product features’ [the ad we created just showed a woman walking down the street in a white dress – and you’d be amazed at how powerful this message was to women] and we used more innovative and direct channels to convey the benefits of the brand to the customer.
Did the client take any of this on?
Of course not … they had a product they wanted to shout about … a product they wanted to show off … a product they needed the ‘trade’ to know they were promoting … so the actual needs and wants of the consumer were pushed into the background [or re-expressed so they answered the ego-demands of the client ] resulting in …
 Us being sacked
 Them producing the sort of cliché driven drivel you saw back in 1982
 A brand that died
How adland sees society?
I was once asked by a researcher to name the single most important thing about the person I loved.
I answered by saying that if there was only one thing I loved about the most important person in my life, then they didn’t deserve to be that special … and my point is that the industry [and I include clients in this] needs to remember each and everyone of us is multi-dimensional so to only focus on the bland and the overly generalistic is short-sighted both interms of effective communication and true brand building.
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