Defying Gender Stereotypes: One Ad At A Time
When I am asked for examples of great marketing to women efforts, I generally list past campaigns by American Express, Home Depot, Apple and Kleenex. At face value, those brands are all non-gendered – but track their tactics and messaging and you see a lot of women’s influence. Therein lies the best practice case study: defy gender stereotypes in execution of your campaign, even as you are guided by women’s ways of buying to develop it.
What about the now infamous Dove example, you say? Even though that brand is an obvious award-winner in reaching women in a whole new way, its best practices may not translate as much as they should. Their products are so obviously for and about women that I’m not sure a lot of other industries can see the applications for their own marketing. And, that’s why ad campaigns that really reach women well, and seemingly inadvertently, can be such powerful teaching tools! One of those was recently reviewed by Barbara Lippert for AdWeek: the new Hoover vacuum spots. As she puts it:
At last, a vacuum campaign that defies gender and every stereotypical demographic; this new work for Hoover, from The Martin Agency, offers a fresh and funny take on vacuuming by separating humanity into two clear camps: clean freaks and the not so neat (OK, slobs.)
When you hear about an ad for a vacuum, doesn’t your mind still jump to the vision of a 1950s housewife – despite the fact that such a vision no longer applies to yours or anyone’s modern life? Why, oh why, is that? Well, the Martin Agency really got down to the root of the issue with Hoover: A vacuum is neither for men or for women, but for any human who prefers to neatness to slovenly ways. According to Lippert’s description, these ads wisely use humor to tell the tales of the two very opposing types of people in nontraditional situations (toddlers and college dorm-mates), rather than using the tired woman = housewife cliche.
While, women may still play the key roles in these ads, and have perhaps guided the development of this Hoover effort, that is not the point. Gender is not the divider or “dramatic tension” for the vacuuming story. But, cleanfreak vs. slob is – with all the humor that entails. Women will surely find that this campaign resonates and seems like a slice of life, but so will a lot of non-women who also have to live and clean up their own spaces.
Gender stereotypes in so many industries were made up and assumed by the mainly men who, lo so many years ago, were the key decision-making marketers in those realms. Now’s the time to wake up, like Hoover, and defy such ridiculousness! The real dramatic tension in the marketing of your product or service or comes from the foibles and fascinating behavioral, and not gender, differences of the humans using them.
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