Here's a marketing to women tip – when you're creating a campaign, trying to be "clever" is never a good idea.
American Apparel conducted a contest to find a plus-size model to be included in their promotion for their larger sizes. Fun idea. Get your target audience involved. Sounds like a winner. But then they came up with their "clever" slogan for their contest, "The Next BIG Thing" (Yes, they used "BIG" in all caps).
Get it – it's a contest for plus-size models who can be a "big" thing. Isn't that clever? Isn't that catchy?
There's only one problem, it's actually condescending to the very customer they hope to attract through the campaign. And women let them know it.
The woman who actually won the most votes openly mocked the campaign, as Chris Morran noted in the article – American Apparel Doesn't Appreciate Plus-Size Model's Attempt To Become "Next Big Thing."
Nancy Upton, the woman who actually received the most votes in the Next BIG Thing contest, has been documenting the process on her tumblr page, including the photos she submitted to the competition featuring her chowing down on pie, chocolate syrup and other foods, and the shots of her posing like a roast pig, complete with apple in mouth and bed of lettuce.
American Apparel deserved to be mocked. There are lots of ways plus size models might describe themselves, but I'm guessing "BIG thing" is probably not at the top of their list. I'm with Team Nancy – as were the majority of voters. She won the web poll, but American Apparel disqualified her.
By the way, the campaign was created by a group of women.
When marketing to women, be very careful with the tone you use. Women have very well developed BS meters.
Upton told Jezebel.com in a recent interview. "People would have said, "Wow, good for them! How progressive!" But instead, they used cutesy, tired euphemisms and this faux-chummy supportive tone that a lot of people found cheap and insulting. It smacked of that feeling when someone does something well or does a good deed and then nudges you and goes, "See what I did?""
If you're marketing to women, pay attention to the tone and words you use. Test your messaging with your target audience to make sure you're messaging is on the mark. If it's not, believe me, they'll let you know.