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Jun 10 13

Stereotyping Women for Dummies 101

by Madwoman

We all use and rely on and are influenced by stereotypes in our daily lives. They help simplify things.

Politicians use them all the time to either glorify friends or demonise foes.  Good/bad, black/white. People like simplicity not grey.

Stereotypes are naturally pervasive in advertising, where you have only a few seconds to set a message in context, create a clear impression.

Used well, they create recognition and empathy. Used badly, they will be rejected or worse, cause outrage.

Sadly a lot of advertising often perpetuates dated gender stereotypes of men but above all women, presenting an often male view of what is supposed to be considered ‘normal’ in today’s society.

In the world of advertising, women are often depicted with a very limited range of characteristics! This often leads to dull, old-fashioned stereotypes based on traditional values that are ingrained in both sexes and are hard to get beyond, however hard we try.

But are they authentic? Do they have to be? Generalizations become a problem when the people targeted don’t relate to the advertisers’ stereotypical images.

Responding to objections last week, Ad Week reported that Swiffer (US) will pull ads for its Swiffer mops featuring a likeness of World War II icon Rosie the Riveter (who in world war II urged women ‘we can do it’ -to roll up their sleeves and join the war effort) after public outcry over perceived sexism, seemingly encouraging women to get back in the kitchen.

rosie-swiffer-hed-2013

Hopefully this is just a momentary blip from the brand whose previous Swiffer Sweeper commercials have bought humour the category and demonstrated a deeper understanding of female culture, and that women are more than house cleaners.

 

Swiffer Sweeper commercial

Closer to home you might like to take a look at Fairy Liquid. Whether playing on their nostalgic heritage in 2010 to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary or having mum washing up to build an athlete for the Olympics, the brand seems intent on maintaining its straight jacket 1950’s housewife stereotype, perhaps reflecting its needs more than women’s aspirations.

Hitting the right note in the P&G stable is Daz. Its 2012 ‘I’m too sexy for my whites’ ad is a good example of the clever use of the cliché housewife stereotype. The insight behind this of course is that while mums want clean laundry their whole life and self-esteem is not centered on this.

Right Said Fred on Daz

The point is women are more diverse and varied that ever – narrowness doesn’t work. If brands are to succeed in getting their attention, advertisers need to change too.

Women are the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of American households with children under 18. In Britain, women account for 46 per cent of the workforce, up from 37 per cent four decades ago.

However, all to often there is an irresistible pull to present a ‘safe’, sanitised and humourless creative idea which saves having to truly understand how to engage women. Advertisers need to understand women and respond to their emotional and practical needs. Give them exciting, creative advertising ideas they will want to talk about positively. And if all else fails, at least make them laugh.

So if you, or your agency are about to use a stereotype in your campaign, ask yourselves:

  1. Do I really need one? If yes, is it:
  2. Patronising V flattering?
  3. Clichéd V accurate & positive?
  4. Over exaggerated V reflecting an idea of reality?
  5. Used for humourous effect? (Key to diffusing potential offence)
  6. Boring V interesting?
  7. Demeaning V uplifting?
  8. Reflects advertiser’s ideal V her aspirations?

The key thing is to concentrate less on the representation of the ideal female character and more on creating an engaging concept that she really relates to.  Think of it as not being about marketing to ‘women’ – it’s about marketing to people, who happen to be female.

 

May 13 13

Are you gender savvy?

by Madwoman

Take our quick quiz to see how well you understand how your gender lens affects the way you communicate with women.

 

Email us now to get the answers

May 12 13

Women are changing, fast. And marketers must keep up or fall out favour.

by Madwoman
business girl with shopping bags

Women are earning, spending, and influencing spending at a greater rate than ever before. In fact, women account for $7 trillion in consumer and business spending in the United States, and over the next decade, they will control two thirds of consumer wealth. Women make or influence 85% of all purchasing decisions, and purchase over 50% of traditional male products, including automobiles, home improvement products and consumer electronics.

Why are all these figures from the US? Because in the UK marketers are ignoring this blindingly obvious fact that they need to get to know women better.

UK advertising is lagging way behind the speed that women’s lives, attitudes and behaviours are changing. So it’s no wonder women say advertisers don’t understand them.

° 59% of women feel misunderstood by food marketers

° 66% feel misunderstood by health care marketers

° 74% feel misunderstood by automotive marketers

° 84% feel misunderstood by investment marketers

° 91% of women in one survey said that advertisers don’t understand them

Source: Forbes, 2010 (via M2W.biz)

 

Failure to keep up will result in millions of pounds of wasted ad spend, and it’s already happening:

Example: Molson Coors:  FAILED: to understand what women want from a beer brand LOST: over 3m   Read more

Here are some more facts from the US – and if it’s happening there, you can bet it’s going to happen here soon:

1. The average American woman is expected to earn more than the average American male by 2028

2. 51% of U.S. Private wealth is controlled by women

3. Women account for over 50% of all stock ownership in the U.S.

4. Women control more than 60% of all personal wealth in the U.S.

Spending Power

5. Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases including everything from autos to health care

6. Women make 80% of healthcare decisions and 68 percent of new car purchase decisions

7. 75% of women identified themselves as the primary shoppers for their households

8. Women influenced $90 billion of consumer electronic purchases in 2007

9. Nearly 50% of women say they want more green choices, with 37% are more likely to pay attention to brands that are committed to environmental causes

Women and Cars

10. Women buy more than half of the new cars in the U.S., and influence up to 80% of all car purchases

11. Women request 65% of the service work done at dealerships

12. Women spend over $200 billion on new cars & mechanical servicing of vehicles each year

Mummy Power

13. Mums represent a $2.4 trillion market

14. 55% of active (daily) social media moms said they made their purchase because of a recommendation from a personal review blog

15. 18.3 million Internet users who are mums read blogs at least once a month

16. In 2014, 63% (nearly 21 million) of all online mums will read blogs

17. Mums mention brands an average of 73 times per week compared with just 57 times per week among males

18. 77% of mum bloggers will only write about products or brands whose reputations they approve of

19. Another 14% will write about brands or products they boycott

20. 90% of mums are online vs. just 76% of women in general

21. 64% of mums ask other mothers for advice before they purchase a new product and 63% of all mothers surveyed consider other moms the most credible experts when they have questions

Women online

22. As early as 2000, women were found to have surpassed men in Internet usage

23. 78% of women in the US use the Internet for product information before making a purchase

24. 33% research products and services on-line before buying offline

25. Women account for 58% of all total online spending

26. 22% shop online at least once a day

27. 92% pass along information about deals or finds to others

28. The average number of contacts in their e-mail or mobile lists is 171

29. 76% want to be part of a special or select panel

30. 58% would toss a TV if they had to get rid of one digital device (only 11% would ditch their laptops)

Sources: She-Economy, Ms Smith Marketing, StartUpNation, Clickz, Inc.com, Girl Power Marketing, Catalyst, Forbes

Apr 25 13

Party political broadcasts: it’s time to move on from willy waving

by Madwoman

As the political parties put out their broadcasts for the local elections, Madwomen’s Creative Director, Gail Parminter, explains how she has tried to mix things up for one of them and cut out the customary willy waving.

A Labour poster during the 2010 election campaign.

A Labour poster during the 2010 election campaign.
It’s local election time next week (May 2) and the main parties are putting out their broadcasts – which are essentially adverts, just longer and usually a lot more boring. And as usual, the current crop features all the political tropes and stereotypes we’re used to.

My view is that the way the main parties portray themselves in their broadcasts, and their advertising, is essentially politics through a male lens; patriarchal and masculine. This tends to be a style that can put women off and is also irritating for many men who are fed up with being talked down to by the elite blokes at the ‘top’.

So, let’s take a look at the party political broadcasts in turn, which have all already been aired and are available on BBC iPlayer:

Conservatives

Open on David Cameron in a smart suit boasting about his achievements, followed by vox pops of “real people” being surprised at how great the coalition is. That’s really and truly just about it.

Liberal Democrats

We see Nick Clegg talking about promises they’ve kept – but I can’t get the ‘I’m sorry’ viral out of my head as I watch. Cut between Nick trying to look casual with no tie and people holding up cards asking, “What would you do with an extra £600?” and hearing how they would spend it. I’m left cold.

“Real People” are always a bit of a cliché in advertising – it’s difficult to make them seem sincere and authentic and the Labour broadcast struggles. The actors are good, but it’s very obvious that they’re actors. The Labour messages spill seamlessly from their lips, such as: “We are the ones that can turn things around,” and “We are the forgotten wealth creators of Britain.” Really? Actors. Blimey. We then cut to Ed Miliband saying ‘We can turn things around’ as if he really is the same as them – but then maybe he is the best actor of all. Did he do drama at Oxford?

UKIP

Open on lighthouse (phallic symbol?), cut to blokes with beards talking about industry, sexy farmer-ette on a tractor. Then more stereotypes of middle England, along with thrusting masculine imagery of crashing waves. End on Nigel Farrage in a pub, alone with his pint. Says it all really.

GREEN PARTY

Well, as my agency, Madwomen is responsible for this one, I can be nothing if not biased. But let me explain why I think what we’ve done is different and will appeal to women as well as men who are fed up with macho politics. The Greens approached us for our expertise in advertising aimed at women. And as the female vote is crucially important to all parties, they were interested to see how we could help them attract female voters without alienating men.

But, I already hear you ask, what’s particularly female about our film? And that’s the point. It isn’t pink, or fluffy. It’s not the Shelia’s Wheels of election broadcasts. But it doesn’t worry about the size of its c***k either.

For a start we chose to use Caroline Lucas as our presenter. She isn’t the party’s leader, but we felt she would come across well to all voters and especially women. At one point we were asked if we could use Will Duckworth, the deputy leader, but for us, it had to be Caroline. The other parties didn’t have to use their leaders – they made a conscious decision to do so.

And, in the current climate where the ‘posh boys’ are being criticised, one wonders why. It may seem a small point – but it’s not. You need to ask why the other parties use their male leaders – what message does this convey? The Tories could have used Home Secretary Theresa May for instance.

For me, and I suspect many female voters, it simply shows us who’s in charge. Men.

So what else makes our broadcast more appealing to women? Well, it helps that we don’t portray Lucas as a macho saviour walking among the masses a la Miliband. Or as promise-making and breaking patriarchs looking down on The Ordinary People. And the broadcast does not resort to showing stereotypes that are split into those who have serious opinions – men – and those who support and care for them and their families – women.

Green Party’s political broadcast

We’ve tried to make the Green Party’s broadcast as honest and open as possible. Lucas starts by talking about what it’s really like in politics – uncaring – and speaks of what the Green Party can actually do to help create stronger communities. And that’s what matters to women, and men too.

The visual link with the living graffiti adds something that makes the film watchable – whilst also showing how the Green Party’s values can help to change our decaying old patriarchal-style politics into something fresher, more honest and more caring. And let’s be frank, more female. Nature and the environment are traditionally associated with femininity, so the green art taps into this.

Symbols often work better when appealing to women because, as we see in the other broadcasts, it can be irritating when advertisers try to show images that represent ‘real people’ because they end up using stereotypes that don’t resonate.

The Tories’ ‘Evil Blair’ election poster

So no, the Green Party broadcast is not politics ‘lite’ especially for the ‘ladies’ in a pink bottle. It’s a serious political message that doesn’t play the muscle-clenching hero we’re so bored of. If you want to see this taken to the extreme, you only have to think back to the Conservative’s ‘Demon Eyes’ posters of a few years’ back, sending the message that only Tory heroes could save the country from ‘evil Tony Blair’.

Labour’s 2010 election poster mocking Cameron for ‘wearing make-up’

Or the posters intent on feminising Cameron – with a shot of Gordon Brown with the line “Building a Foundation” and a shot of Cameron with the line “Wearing it” – sending out the message that being “feminine” (cue more jokes about wearing make-up) in politics is unacceptable and that those who are deemed as such, are not fit to rule. Really?

Only the other day did BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme dedicate 10 minutes of its show to discussing the Chancellor George Osborne’s tears at Baroness Thatcher’s funeral. Presenter John Humphrys was later duly slammed by hundreds of listeners for mocking Osborne over his weeping. Would a female MP have been mocked in this way for expressing remorse at a funeral? Probably not. Osborne was shredded because he showed a form of perceived ‘weakness’ for male politicians.

Surely traditional ‘feminine’ values which include: caring, sustaining, nurturing and working collaboratively, are better influences to bring to British politics – than those traditional ‘masculine’ traits like aggression, competitiveness and a lack of emotion, that these broadcasts, posters and displays in the Commons actively promote and encourage.

Apr 18 13

MADWOMEN MAKES FIRST TV SPOT – A PARTY ELECTION BROADCAST FOR THE GREEN PARTY

by Madwoman
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Since opening our doors in July last year Madwomen has been busy talking to clients that fit the agencies ethos of creating intelligent, relevant advertising that connects with today’s women.

Hard work and belief in the need for an agency that really does ‘get’ women has paid off with their first major brief from the Green Party. Keen to attract the crucial female vote without alienating men, the Greens approached Madwomen to provide strategy and creative for their party election broadcast.

Madwomen’s planning director, Kate Frearson commented that, “With a female leader and MP, Natalie Bennet and Caroline Lucas respectively, and policies that aim to create a more caring society, the Greens really do offer an alternative to the masculinised, dog-eat-dog style of politics that we’re all used to.” 

The brief from the Greens was to come up with a script for the party election broadcast that would clearly express the Green Party’s values yet also dispel the myth that they’re a ‘single issue party’. The core message is that beyond caring for the environment, which they’re already known for, the party also cares about people. With progressive, practical policies on a range of issues including welfare, employment and banking reform the party offers a real alternative vision for Britain that’s also realistic.

Creative Director, Gail Parminter said, “It was not an easy brief ­– not only did we need to put the Green Party’s heritage at the heart of anything we did, we also needed to show how a vote for the Greens is a viable option and not just a protest.”

She went on to point out that, “In today’s political climate it would have been easy to give the other parties a good slagging off – bit we don’t really need to – that would have been a typical masculine approach. Instead we’ve come up with something hard-hitting yet also optimistic.”

The 2 minute 40-second film features ‘living graffiti’ by artist Anna Garforth and juxtaposes the beautiful natural artworks with crumbling inner-city settings that represent the neglect and under investment Britain is suffering under the current government.

Written by Gail Parminter and art directed by Chris Sainsbury, the film was shot by Marc Silver, produced by Danielle Ward and edited by James Smith–Rewse through Annex Films, who also provided post-production. The music track was specially composed by Yellow Boat music and the sound mix was by Jason Courtney at USP Content. Agency producer Maggie Campbell pulled out all the stops to get the film made with an extremely tight budget. It will get its first airing on the BBC on 24th April.

The Green Party’s External Communications Director, Penny Kemp says the party are delighted with film and believe it’s managed to “capture the essence of the Green Party with imagery that reflects their heritage, yet moves the party into the mainstream by giving it a voice on policies like the economy, housing and welfare that will make a real difference to the country.” Kemp added that “Madwomen gave us a unique blend of strategic and creative experience together with in-depth knowledge and understanding of how to communicate in a way that connects with the voting public without putting women off – as so many party broadcasts do.” 

Apr 2 13

Does sex sell to women or is it just for the boys?

by Madwoman
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Ever since the first Cadbury’s Flake felatio scene, advertising has been a bit obsessed with women putting things in their mouths in a suggestive way. And I’ve always been a bit perplexed by this given that in a scientific poll of a few of my mates, oral sex is really not what we usually think about when eating chocolate. But the analogy has launched a fair few sexy ads including the explicit Magnum campaign which was practically a blow-by-blow lesson.

Recently, both Pepsi and Diet Coke have ads featuring women who can’t wait to wrap their lips round something phallic. In the Coke version, the women are quite literally licking their lips as they lust after the guy who, orgasmically sprays diet coke all over himself.

It seems to me an oddly male, and gay male at that, idea. Giving head is not normally the thing women imagine doing when they see an attractive man – don’t we usually imagine what pleasure they can give us rather than what we can give them? So are we giving the Diet Coke can a thrill, or is it giving us one?

Will it appeal to the majority of women? Well, probably, if because objectifying a man in the way women are used to being objectified is a break from the usual. Not sure what it will do for the brand long term though once the novelty’s worn off.

Diet Pepsi goes for a similar scenario – featuring the Colombian actress Sofia Vergara. The voluptuous Vergara is in a restaurant with a girlfriend, whom she ignores while she apparently ogles a George Clooney look-alike. Like the Diet Coke ad, the camera is obsessed with her mouth as she too appears to be imagining sucking on something … but, it’s not what you think! No, shockingly for the Clooney-alike, she’d rather get her lips round something altogether easier to manage – a straw! We’re treated to her simulating oral sex on said straw, while Clooney walks away unsatisfied, curiously tugging at his groin area.

Is it meant to be funny? Is it meant to leave women feeling incredulous that Vergara prefers a straw to Clooney’s bits? Shock horror – blow jobs are not really all women want when they see a good looking bloke? This ad was created by a female creative team – which goes to show that the sex of the team is no indicator of empathy with women. Both the Coke and Pepsi view of female desire – and this is essentially what these ads are trying to tap into – is a male view of women’s sexuality. Which is why, for me, neither of these ads work.

There are quite a few studies that show how it’s men, rather than women who are turned on by sex-themed advertising, for example, an Adweek report showed that while 33% of male respondents said they would remember a brand more if its ads had a sexual theme, only 11% of women said sex made a brand more memorable. A UK study carried out by University College London identified that while men recalled the brand whose ads contained sexual imagery, women were actually put off by it. UCL researcher Adrian Furnham says that, “Sex seems to have a detrimental effect on females recall for an advertisement, so sex is only a useful advertising tool when selling to men”.

The exception to this is when the brand is actually about sex, as with Ann Summers or Victoria’s Secret – when the brand is ‘sexy’ then women in the survey accepted this. One brand that is overtly about sex and uses sex to sell in clever, intriguing ways is Coco de Mer. Their launch campaign focused on the benefits of their products (high-class sex toys) and instead of using images of women’s airbrushed bodies, it showed faces. Faces of women and men having an orgasm.  How relevant and clever is that?

Why are people so afraid of female pleasure? It’s okay to show images that arouse men – and we do see them all around us – but when it comes to female sexual pleasure, media owners go all coy. For example, Ann Summers ad for the Rampant Rabbit – featuring a mermaid and the line “wave after wave of pleasure” was banned from the underground because it was said to be “likely to offend passengers”. So, the company has now reverted to a style of advertising that’s designed to titillate guess who? Men of course. Because, that’s acceptable.

Now I’m no prude, and I’m a fan of sex, but if advertising is going to use sex to sell to women, shouldn’t it be about sex from a woman’s point of view? Doubtless there will be comments from women who get pleasure from pleasuring men, but would advertising be more successful if it tapped into real insights about female sexual pleasure and tried to create a ‘female gaze’ that isn’t just the ‘male gaze’ in disguise.

Mar 21 13

Does advertising treat women like morons?

by Madwoman

“Women. You’re leaky, hairy, overweight and the advertising aimed at you is absolutely rubbish.”

Mitchell & Webb parodies how many TV ads treat women as morons:

The sketch pretty much sums up the contrast between advertising aimed at women and ads targetting men. Which is odd seeing as the ad industry is meant to be creative and forward thinking isn’t it? Yet what we see is an incredibly conservative view of men and women’s roles. And when it comes to thinking up creative ideas for ads aimed at women, there’s a distinct lack of imagination.

The real creativity is obviously all being stored up for the next beer brief, where there may be a chance of winning an award, or at least kudos in the (laddish) creative department. And that’s because the creative director is likely to be male, and so are the awards juries. Rosie Arnold pointed out in the Drum recently that a woman’s idea of what a ‘good ad’ looks like is not the same as a man’s, she says:

“If you think about the films women like to see and the books women read and the activities women enjoy, it’s very different from the same things that men do. One of my bugbears and maybe one of the reasons we’re not getting so many women in the industry is that it’s all-male juries, so therefore the work [women] do isn’t rated. It’s no surprise to me that over the last 50 years or so, sports brands and beer brands have dominated the awards. It’s quite difficult if you’re a woman.”

When you think about it, the reason men set the bar for what’s ‘good’ is pretty obvious. Ad agencies have an incredibly masculine culture and working on briefs for women’s products just isn’t sexy. When I last worked in a big agency creative department, the test for a good idea was whether or not it ‘gave you a stiffy’. And, I admit, I was fully complicit.

But how much longer can this lad-centric monopolization of ‘good’ advertising continue? David Ogilvy famously said, “The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.” And, as most men would agree, wives/girlfriends/partners/significant others are not quite the same today as they were in Ogilvy’s day. So why do our screens continue to be filled with put upon housewives and harassed mothers?

When defending their much complained about Christmas ad, Saatchis and Asda claimed it showed a ‘realistic portrayal’ of their customers’ lives. But is advertising about showing ‘realistic portrayals’? Why then don’t we show a ‘realistic portrayal’ of the average Lynx user? (Spotty youth wanking in his bedroom to a Beyoncé poster) Or a ‘realistic portrayal’ of a Carlsberg drinker? (middle-aged man sitting on the sofa eating a bacon sarnie while watching Eastenders).

It’s 2013 – isn’t it time we at least acknowledged that women are changing? Or at least trying to? Even if they are stuck in roles where they are doing all the cooking and cleaning, can’t we give them a glimmer of hope? Can’t we entertain them rather than holding up a mirror?

How about using making them laugh, or at least smile? When did you last see a really funny ad aimed at women? Believe it or not guys, women do have a sense of humour – it’s just different to men’s. That’s why I end up crying with laughter at Smack the Pony when my husband looks on bemused.

A man recently said to me he hated the episode of QI where all the guests were women because he felt like he was ‘gatecrashing a girls night in and didn’t understand what was funny’. But that’s the point – humour is all about shared experience and observing nuances. It’s easy for women to ‘get’ male humour because male culture and experience is all around us, in our faces. We know what makes them laugh. But years of basically ignoring female culture means men don’t understand our jokes.

I don’t want to end too negatively because there is some hope out there. There are people in our client companies and ad agencies – who really want to understand how to talk to women. These ‘brave’ people aren’t trying to do ‘marketing to women’, they are trying to create advertising for people who happen to be female. Real female people who are, amazing as it may sound, all different from each other. Female people who have varied and interesting lives and are not obsessed with gut agony, wrinkles and getting tea on the table.

This week’s glimmer of hope is the new Adidas campaign. It features women in sport and, unbelievably, doesn’t obsess about body parts (as Nike has tended to do), avoids sexualization and simply shows women being, well, women. On their terms – not as men imagine them to be.

Come on, advertising – wake up and smell the perfume – women are people too! And like Adidas has shown, you can do good advertising for women. You really can.

Mar 6 13

3 Mobile creates great advertising that appeals to women and men

by Madwoman

“Silly stuff. It matters.” Says the 3 mobile  ad. And yes, it does – ads that make us smile and entertain us are to be applauded. It’s a bit of added value that builds a brand’s personality without overtly “selling”. And it doesn’t gender the ad male or female as so many technology advertisers try to do. See for example Dell’s ‘lady-laptop – ‘Della” or the countless phones that are pink.

Feb 27 13

Women of the World: Southbank Centre 8th -10th March 2013,

by Madwoman

wow-logo‘WOW’  IS  THE ANNUAL GLOBAL FESTIVAL WHERE WOMEN AND MEN CELEBRATE WOMEN AND DISCUSS THE OBSTACLES THEY FACE ACROSS THE WORLD.

From Wednesday 6 March to Sunday 10 March there’s a diverse programme of keynote talks, performances, concerts, talks, gigs, debates and free music. The marketplace has exhibitions and workshops and you  can take part in speed-mentoring, networking opportunities and more.

The festival showcases the very best of recognised and emerging female talent across all fields including politics, the arts, economics, fashion, science, health, sport, business and education.

WOW also celebrates International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March with free mass speed-mentoring.

Madwomen will be there on all three days: Kate is a mentor and Gail is delivering a talk on the Friday titled “Is advertising turning the clock back for women?” If you see us, please come and say hello!

Free mentoring sessions: 

We’re offering 2 x  free 15 minute mentoring sessions at WOW on 8,9 or 10 March for our subscribers – if you want one email us now.

Highlights include:

I
nternational activism – keynote speech from Sarah Brown: Friday

Ruby Wax – crash and burn: Friday

Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner office: Saturday

Sum of their body parts? Women in the Media: Saturday

The guys guide to feminism: Saturday

Fifty Shades of Feminism: Sunday

Pornography – has it hijacked our sexuality? Sunday

Tickets start at £12 for a day pass / £30 for a 3-day pass and are on sale now: 

FIND OUT MORE

Feb 1 13

Mooncup V tampon V Fiat 500 Motherhood rap

by Madwoman

Rappin’s back in fashion – but so is lonely, household drudgery

This article was featured in The Drum Jan 2013

Feminine hygiene brands have never found it easy talking about menstruation and have often used metaphors and clichés to hide or distort the realities of having a period. We’ve even seen ads that try to glamourise and even sexualise periods. So, while using rap as a device isn’t new, Mooncup have found a way to start a discussion about the different forms of protection available in an accessible way.

Building on the more straight-talking inroads made by Kotex recently for their range of tampons and panty liners (which claimed to “start a conversation about vaginas”), Mooncup’s Rap Battle is one of the most educational and entertaining side-by-side product comparisons I’ve seen in a long while.

Mooncup is introducing a positive, healthy and eco-friendly alternative product to young women, in an attention grabbing way to an audience who form their brand preferences at a young age that lasts till the menopause.

Whilst rap music comes from urban gang culture, its use here allows girls to give peer to peer advice in a clear no nonsense, entertaining way, in a gang-to-gang confrontation consistent with the music genre. It taps into the modern pop culture teens and twenty-something’s are part of in a way that West Side Story did for a previous generation.

Some will no doubt say that the use of rap here is reflecting a macho adversarial bullying locker room culture but it’s done in a light-hearted way gets over some interesting facts and a message that’s well worth hearing.  For once here’s an ad aimed at women that encourages us to think politically about menstruation and talk about our bodies and the effects of the products were sold – both on us, and on the environment.

It’s a clever way of having a direct conversation in a way that most brands in the feminine hygiene category squirm away from. The viral recognises that women no longer want to hear from brands, or a hired expert, telling them what to think, and who are instead listening to more trustworthy sources – other women like themselves.

This is a breath of fresh air and, for me, beats the pants off Fiat 500’s Motherhood Rap for relevance, raising real issues and entertainment.

Clearly an amusing viral, but is it a good ad? How many of the hits are from people in the market for this car? Assuming people even remember the car, how many will get that this is not for the Fiat 500 – a small car – but for the 500 LARGE that can I guess fit in 3 kids as well?

What do those mums with three kids who may have watched it, make of it? A funny take on the negatives of motherhood, yes. But does the Essex-model-stay-at-home mum in her beautiful home reflect any reality typical working mums can connect to? The response on Mumsnet was mixed, with just as many mums hating it as liking it.

The viral doesn’t do much to project a positive or even accurate stereotype, given that most women go out to work as well as raise a family (work is mentioned in the viral, but fleetingly). In reality, being a lonely, long-suffering martyr-mother isn’t a very funny situation to be in – women have been sold the ‘having it all’ myth, but we all know it just means we have to ‘do it all’. The viral will be successful because it’s a surprising stereotype amongst the idealised images of motherhood projected by the media – but will it really do a lot for Fiat’s brand in the long term? It is actually just another ideal – the mum who knows she has a rough deal, but puts up with up with it in the name of ‘motherhood’.

Interestingly, the rap that Fiat most likely took their inspiration from does a much better job of taking giving us a tongue-in-cheek look at modern parenthood – even showing, dare we say it, a dad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_NspDWssIY

So when it comes to “rap wars”, Mooncup is the winner for me as it actually puts across highly relevant product information and benefits to its target audience. The proof will be seen in the sales, which is the entire purpose of all advertising, viral or conventional, and I think Mooncup will do well. I’m certainly ordering one right now.