Brands have ‘femvertising wrong’ – here’s what to do about it

Evidence that the old ad agency model is ready to evolve and recognise female audiences was recently unearthed on global level, at the ‘What Women Want: Beyond Feminism in Advertising’. Held by The Drum Network and Southpaw, the London-based panel debate among female ad industry leaders underscored crucial directives for marketing to women, who importantly represent 28 of the 35 trillion dollar global economy.

The panel discussed the many concerns surrounding today’s ‘femvertising’, finding that many advertisers still don’t have a grasp of what reaching female audiences requires. Instead, they’re defining this term as a fad, rather than a positive progression of feminism from a cultural, societal and global standpoint.

So, what does ‘femvertising’ then mean for brands, and how is it properly applied to reach that invaluable female audience? Here were some of the panel’s key findings:

Do it right – be consistent and genuine.
Be true to yourselves, brands – unlike Special K cereal, who RBH’s Debra Hepburn cited for changing their longtime weight-loss messaging to “Embrace your bingo wings”. Not only is this communication inconsistent, but the brand’s failed attempt at empowerment also makes no sense: Why would women eat cereal to gain “bingo wings”? Hello, confusion. Bye-bye, belief and loyalty in a brand.

Promote empowerment – and mental health.
Twelve million women say they’re overwhelmed by the idea of the “ideal woman”, said Southpaw’s Niki McCartney. So, it’s time for advertisers to take responsibility for the discontented culture they risk creating by promoting expectations women cannot live up to. It’s not just about empowerment, brands – mental health matters, just as much. And that goes for any audience – regardless of gender.

Build an emotional connection.
Establishing an emotive bond between your brand, advertiser and female audience is crucial – just make sure that heartfelt connection actually makes sense for your brand, Cosmo’s Victoria White cautioned. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with incorporating lightheartedness, as long as your messaging is kept real at all times. The bond you create is one that should evoke that feeling of, “my life would be even better with this brand”.

Nix the stereotypes.
As a brand, you’re connecting with individuals – or “humans”, as the panel put it. Therefore, don’t assume each female – or male, for that matter – is the same. Listen to each distinct consumer. Respond to their separate needs. ALL of them have purchasing power, after all.

We at Venus found it refreshing to see these marketing-to-women truths come to light on a global level – a signal that the old industry model is indeed ready to evolve, worldwide, as we recently pointed out in Mumbrella. We stand behind these female industry leaders as voices of the change we want to see in the world – and Ad Land – as marketers to women.

Again, that change is happening: Marketing-to-women specialist agencies are continuing to form, cultivating innovations that speak to the fact that women hold 90 percent of purchasing power today. Evidence of this new, booming female economy exists in detailed, documented research. And this recent panel debate is one of many movements proving brands can no longer afford to misunderstand or ignore women.

To learn more about how your brand can benefit in the new female economy, contact us on (03) 9510 7000.