How to Move Beyond Female Stereotypes In Your Ads

Why do so many marketing to women efforts fail?  One word….


When you stereotype the people in your ads, you end up with commercials that don't engage your target audience.

Which is why I find it amazing that SO many commercials stereotype women. 

Go beyond stereotypes

I read an awesome article in Ad Week – The Courage to Advertise Without Female Stereotypes:  How Brands LIke Huggies, Tide and Target Go Beyond the Cliches.

The article points out how many women feel advertisers don't understand them or their lives.

How are brands doing in their quest to forge better marketing
relationships with women? The results are mixed. Even the target
audience feels a profound lack of connection. The oft-quoted Greenfield
Online Study from 2002 found that 91 percent of women believed that
advertisers of every stripe didn't understand them. Recent research from
Insights in Marketing’s i-on-Women unit suggests little has changed
over the last decade. Just 17 percent of 1,300 women surveyed said
today’s advertisers market effectively to females, while a mere 9
percent believed marketers were effectively communicating to them

"Part of where they're missing the boat is, they’re painting all
customers with the same broad brushstrokes," says Tinesha Craig,
division director of i-on-Women. "All moms aren’t quite the same. All
women aren’t the same. Companies haven’t figured out how to customize
their message in a way that’s meaningful. I think they leave a little
bit of opportunity on the table because they’re looking at just one
aspect of who you are."

How do you break through stereotypes?

There are three secrets to breaking through stereotypes and creating ads that make a real emotional connection with your audience.

  1. Do NOT do a "joke" ad
  2. Focus on a "slice of life" moment with one genuine emotion
  3. Make sure your ad can pass The BuchananTest for stereotyping women

The problem with "joke" ads is that they are full of stereotypes:  the doofus dad, the mom to the rescue, the stupid guy, the kid who outsmarts his parents.  These are all caricatures.

The "slice of life" ads feature characters you can relate to, and genuine emotions you can share.  

Examples of "slice of life" genuine emotions

I collect images, ads, tweets, e-cards – anything that portrays a genuine emotion or real situation that we can all relate to.   Here are some examples:

Dads - ringing toy phones

Pets  don't mess with them

Money quote from Sales Diva

Retirement quote


This content goes crazy viral…..for a reason…..

You look at it and go, "OMG – that is totally me!"  Or even better, "Wow, I thought I was the only one."

Are your customers looking at your ads and saying that?   



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