Tag Archives: marketing to Women

“Mad Women” Book Review

By Samantha White

As a viewer of AMC’s “Mad Men” and a lover of all things 1960s, I was ecstatic to read Jane Maas’ “Mad Women: the Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the Sixties and Beyond.” In the book, Maas talks about specific campaigns she was involved with as a copywriter in New York (most notably, the “I Love New York” tourism campaign) and tells the stories of the few other female peers she had. While she makes references to “Mad Men,” she focuses on three main topics: how females were viewed in the office, the never-ending full-time employee and mother battle, and the struggles of being a woman in the industry back then.

According to Maas, women usually entered an ad agency as a typist or a secretary, then slowly worked their way up (if they desired to). The senior men in the agency would often make their rounds through the female groups, as if the women of the office were their personal pool of available dates. This included just about everyone and anyone, regardless of marital status. Maas informs us of the “Three-Martini Lunch,” explaining that senior employees rarely returned to the office from lunch sober, creating an office full of sexual tension and flirting.

Maas opens “Mad Women” by walking through her daily routine of working on Madison Avenue and explaining her priorities as a full time working mother. She is clear when she says that her career came first, followed by her husband, then her children. She was able to live this way because of her “lifeline,” her nanny/housekeeper, Mabel. Maas did what was required of her to get ahead, even if that meant leaving her family behind and says later that she wouldn’t go back and change her priorities if she could. However, many other working mothers interviewed in the book discuss the revolving door of daily guilt around not being with their children when at the office, and not working when at home with their families.

In addition to the working mother conflict, Maas writes about other difficulties facing women in the 1960s working world. Females made half the wages of their male counterparts and were rarely given raises. Maas explains that when given the opportunity to begin actually writing copy, she had to do so on her own time, as not to interrupt her typing duties. This meant prioritizing her career even more, and spending less time with her family. In the final chapter of “Mad Women”, Maas questions whether or not women are equals in the modern workplace. While Maas believes women have come a long way, she also thinks that we “still have a long way to go.”

Do Super Bowl Advertisers Get Female Humor?

By Crystal Markowski

In recent years there has been conversation around Super Bowl ads and their disregard for female audiences. Regardless of how sexist, crude, awesome, or ridiculous you think Super Bowl spots are, one thing is certain. Women are making up a larger portion of viewership for the NFL, and some advertisers are paying more attention to this growing audience.

While previewing the ads online (yes, you can do that now!), I was pleased to see one that was clearly targeted towards women. However, at the end of Dannon’s 30 second spot, my pleasure turned to disappointment. I had no laugh, not even an “I’m giggling in my head” reaction. The basic formula for the ad was to show a sexy man and sprinkle in some slapstick comedy. Though it was intended for women, this spot didn’t seem to actually consider women and how our sense of humor works.

To get their message across, advertisers shouldn’t just create an ad that shows a woman. They need to create one that speaks to her in her own language. Humor that appeals to a woman lets her laugh in an inclusive way. For her it’s about connecting through shared experiences and being able to say, “Oh! That happens to me too!” This weekend I’m hoping to see other female-targeted commercials that do a better job of connecting to women.

Tell us what you think. Does this spot get your sense of humor?

Why Women Love Target

By Crystal Markowski


“I love Target.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard those words from a female I know: my friends, coworkers, aunts, and women I’ve met through our studies. I’ve also read bloggers who describe the Target stores as a place to “recharge,” a “mom trip out,” and “female crack.” What is it about this retailer that keeps so many women coming back? After all, it seems like just a store that sells everyday merchandise (everything from toasters to gift wrap). But, the shopping experience seems to offer women something much more. Here are a few insights on why women love Target:

1.    Indulgence veiled by practicality
Women often feel the need to justify their shopping trips with sensible motives. When women go to Target, they have a good reason to be there, but they also get to treat themselves too. (I’m a little embarrassed to say that I do this all the time!) One female blogger said she uses milk as her excuse to her husband for making a Target run. However, she knows this trip also entails sipping a latte from the in-store Starbucks while browsing in the shoe aisle. Her excuse eliminates the guilt of taking a little time (and money) to splurge on herself. What makes this possible is the appealing mix of merchandise Target offers. Millions of women love it, including the CEO of Neiman Marcus, Karen Katz. In an interview by Fast Company, she named Target as one of her favorite places to shop saying, “I love Target. They have a really beautiful way of blending inexpensive fashion with housewares and laundry detergent…”

2.    Store environment
Many retailers strip back on costs, including store design, to offer customers low prices on their goods. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, it can impact shoppers’ moods. Because bad lighting, cramped aisles, and cluttered merchandise have left me feeling stressed out and grumpy in the past, I’ve found myself becoming more loyal to stores with well designed environments. Target clearly puts a lot of effort into making their stores exciting for guests and a comfortable place to shop. On a dedicated section of their website, Target highlights their “focus on design” stating that they “concentrate on aesthetics…[and] know that things like artistic seasonal displays can turn a weekend shopping trip into a fun family outing.” How Target chooses to design and present its stores make women feel like they can go there to escape for an hour.

3.    Quality at comparable prices
We’re all trying to save money these days, or at least, find a great value. Many women feel good about the prices they find at Target because they perceive them to be comparable to other low priced retailers. I’ve compared several items myself and found that Target’s prices came within two cents of Wal-Mart’s. Target also seems to deliver on the perception of high quality through consistent branding. Whether it be their television spots, print ads, or store environment, Target has communicated a brand image that is sleek, modern, and clever. Women used to call it “Tar-jay” because it sounded more upscale, and their heritage of smart, stylish women who shop there continues today.

You may be thinking that these three things aren’t entirely unique to Target. And, you’re right. But in my opinion, Target creates a really powerful offering for women because it provides all three of these things at once which makes practical and emotional sense to many women. Surely this brand stewardship that has remained smart and consistent for years has led to its successes today.