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Thunderstorms in marketing-to-women land

We're not having an awfully good week in marketing-to-women land.

First there was L'Oreal, which was this week found guilty of racial discrimination by a French court over its all-white recruitment policy for its shampoo sales teams. In 2000, the company briefed its recruitment agency to find "BBR" (an acronym for the colours of the French flag and widely known to signify a person of white, French descent) women sized between 8 and 12. And this comes from the company that last year was accused of whitening Beyonce Knowles' skin in an ad. Indeed: because you're not worth it.

And then....then ladies and gentlemen, there's the Barcardi "Ugly Girlfriend" campaign brought to you this summer compliments of McCann Digital in Tel Aviv. Of course, by the time you read this, the company/agency has already taken the microsite of the campaign offline. Things go quickly these days. However, thanks to Copyranter, I've been able to get a few campaign visuals and some copy used in the campaign.

Bacardi, through Tel Aviv ad agency McCann Digital, launched a promotional mini-site (in English and Hebrew) for their fruit-flavored Breezer drinks with four "ugly girlfriends" for you to choose from, depending on the activity. Upgrade your trips to the beach with Sally." She's "97 kilograms of femininity, strength, and double chins." There's also Lucy, who's "rubbing thighs...and drooping breasts will turn any trip to the mall into an unforgettable experience."

As marketer the number of times presumably educated marketing people would have had the opportunity to pull the plug on this campaign along the chain of command, yet somehow didn't, doesn't cease to amaze me. In fact, it reminds me of this BMW ad.

I'm sure this campaign was made with the best of intentions. But laughing at someone else is always much easier than laughing at yourself, isn't it? And that's were this campaign goes wrong. This is school-bully humor. Humor to hurt and belittle people around you to make yourself feel better.

And really, I had hoped that we'd moved beyond that kind of humor to sell products. And even if Barcardi's target audience may still be trying to shake off their high school sense of humor, surely we shouldn't be encouraging it?


Muse newsletter: marketing technology to women.

Marketing technology to women is one of my favorite topics!

In this month's newsletter, we take a closer look at what works and what doesn't!

Click here to read!


Why social media matters - so much!

The control of products, services and advertising is increasingly shifting to the consumer. Gone are the days of creating an award-winning creative ad and placing it in all the right places. Gone are the days of you telling the consumer what they need. They are telling you. Just ask Motrin or Dell(a).

According to a Forresters research report released recently, "The distinction between traditional and innovative marketing techniques will become significantly more pronounced as the socially driven online communities continue to gain momentum".

...And to quote the CEO of one of Belgium's most aggressively innovative digital TV stations: "The 30" TVC has no future. We have to be realistic and face the fact that it will disappear within the next ten years."

Those are some disruptive theories. But I firmly agree. Marketing as we know it is dead.
I've blogged about it in the post "The death of PR", and will go a step further: social media IS the new PR - especially when marketing to female consumers.

Brands that want to market their products/services to women will need to integrate social media in their marketing strategy.

Why do I place so much emphasis on social media in marketing to women?
Because women treat information gathering as a textured and interactive process – one that includes gathering AND exchanging information – both online and offline - with friends and peers and support networks.
Women also re-evaluate their selection criteria throughout the information gathering process. While men tend to identify a few key selection criteria and then buy a product that matches those criteria to offer them a “good solution”, women will keep adding and amending their criteria - listening to opinions and advice, evaluating your product offering against a complex, nuanced set of criteria - and shop until they find a product that offers “the perfect solution”.

Social media will continue to affect and change the way in which consumers interact, with brands and with each other.

Below the future of social web, as detailed in a research report released by Forresters a few weeks ago.

The Five Eras of the Social Web:
1) Era of Social Relationships: People connect to others and share
2) Era of Social Functionality: Social networks become like operating system
3) Era of Social Colonization: Every experience can now be social
4) Era of Social Context: Personalized and accurate content
5) Era of Social Commerce: Communities define future products and services

Astute marketers will take note and educate themselves now on social media and how it impacts their business and their customer - ahead of the pack.

Read more here


A woman's day in brands

This is so great, I just had to take time out to post it!

Also check out "A man's day in brands"

keychain with GPS. Sound silly? Think again...

When I first read about the keychain with GPS early this morning, I thought "nope...".But that's because I thought about it as answer to the question "where did I park my car?", which made me feel rather stupid.

But the more I thought about it, I realized that it could indeed be very, very handy little gadget.
On a city trip to Prague, for example, as one wanders through unfamiliar streets and neighborhoods and you need to get back to your hotel. Lock in "hotel" as starting point and when needed, it will navigate you back to that point. Or (for the boys) use it to find your tent between a million others at Werchter this year.

The gadget also stores up to 3 locations so you can enter the starting point together with two more on-the-way locations, in effect planning your route back. The gps also has a display with directional arrow, which always points out the general direction you should head in. And, both direction and distance counts down as you move closer to your saved location and counts up as you move farther away.

Barcelona, London, New York, Singapore here I come! With its worldwide range, this little gadget really is a traveler's dream!

• Tracks up to 32 satellites within 60 seconds.
• Tracking distance up to 9999 miles.
• Store up to 3 locations
• Rechargeable battery USB connection at home, computer, or in your car.
• Highly sensitive GPS receiver provides faster acquisition times and improved tracking capabilities.
• Built in electronic compass that provides bearing information while you’re standing still, always pointing you in the general direction.
• Display directional arrow, direction and distance counts down as you move closer to your saved location and counts up as you move farther away.
• No service fees.
• Global range.
• Smallest personal GPS system that fits on a keychain.


"It's pretty ugly" - how gender drives our perception of design

Working in marketing and communication for over 10 years now, I can confirm that design is indeed one of the most subjective elements of marketing. And exactly because it's so subjective, its also the most difficult element to discuss with a client, let alone defend rationally if they've decided they don't like it.

How do you defend a design, unless you have facts to back it up?
The lack of research on the effects of gender on design made that one of the biggest stumbling blocks, and we had to rely on arguments such as "from experience" and "as a woman I can tell you that...".

But that's about to change with this book "Gender, Design and Marketing: how gender drives our perception of design and marketing" by Gloria Moss.

In the book, Gloria explores gender preferences in drawing, painting, graphics and web design.
It's a book I'll certainly be buying, and one I'll advise all my clients (from R&D teams to marketing) to buy too!

Here are a few very interesting findings:
- We are drawn to images of people of our own gender
- Women prefer designs with round shapes and detailed surfaces, men prefer linear shapes and plain surfaces.
- Women draw faces in a full frontal position, men draw faces in profile.
- Women prefer the use of more colour, especially bright colours.
- When it comes to website design, men intuitively preferred sites designed by men, and women sites designed by women. (And considering the fact that a whopping 78% of all female orientated beauty sites are designed by men, this may mean that these sites are probably performing below par)

But here's the really interesting bit that should make every brand about to actively engage with its female consumers sit up and take note:

Research points to the fact that women are less accepting of male design aesthetics than men are of female design aesthetics.
And that's not only the case in marketing, but also in product design

"Although both men and women assign higher scores to own-sex designs compared to opposite-sex designs, men interestingly ascribed higher scores to female-designed products than the women do to male-designed products and this is further evidence of the fact that, given a choice, men have a greater tolerance of the female design aesthetic than women do of the equivalent male aesthetic."

I'm off to order it right now.