Tag Archives: Marketing

Banksy on the state of modern art

Quoted:

The thing I hate most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative, ambitious young people leaving us with mainly the slow and self obsessed to become our artists. Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little.

– Banksy

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In Marketing, All the Single Ladies are Notably Absent

Women were notably absent from the list of technology experts asked to review Apple’s new iPad. At first glance this might seem like a slight to women’s tech expertise. In fact, all the single ladies are the largest marketing demographic for growth in the United States, and the most actively-ignored demographic across the board.

As recently as 2009, marketing execs overlooked unmarried women entirely, favoring immigrants or the recently come-of-age Generation Y. But this Sex and the City-sized blind spot hurt demographers where it hurts: In the big ticket purchases.

Real estate trends do not directly inform technology purchase predictions. Still, nest egg investments indicate that single women are a demographic to be reckoned with.

Married couples still purchase 60% of homes, according to the National Association of Realtors, but that number has dropped in the past decade from 68%. Single women comprise the fastest growing market, now purchasing 21% of homes, up from 15% during the same period. Single men purchase 10%, up from 7%.

This marketing gap seems to represent an opportunity for differentiation in a competitive marketplace. Rather than capitalize on this eager crowd, marketing demographers express surprise when single women seek a cozy home that would have been out of their price range before last year’s market dip.

Political operatives similarly underestimate single women. In 2007 the women’s website Jezebel deemed “slutty” that broad demographic of single women whose political persuasions are wont to change with the tide. Yet single women single-handedly pushed Obama ahead of Hilary before the democrats’ presidential primary.

Why, then, would Mac not lean hard on unmarried ladies to test the iPad?

Perhaps for a company that wants its products to succeed, it’s time to admit they can hear these single women roar.

5 Tech Leaders' Takes on the iPad

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Real Men Wear Dockers

I, for one, am thrilled to see Dockers re-branding itself with the marketing theme: Real men wear the pants. How nice to see regendering away from androgynous center — like this women’s blog is attempting to re-gender femininity – in a productive way.

For at least a decade now women have dealt with the Reluctant Man Movement. This dubious movement was how many men responded to what they found “emasculating” about women enjoying equal opportunity and vying for more of it.

Rather than embrace strong females in their midst, many men simply embraced the opportunity to act a little, well, helpless — like Homer Simpson. From Homer the reluctant man movement centered on The Man Show, an hour of bathroom humor apparently only for men. No girls allowed!

Enter rebranded masculinity. Forward-looking marketing attempts to re-package masculinity in an attractive way. This is not the old masculinity, built on chauvinism and seeped in female subordination. Instead, brands like Mitchum, Dockers, and Camel ask men to stand up and reclaim those old dashing archetypes that inspired generations of chivalrous pre-Homer men.

Says the New York Times of Dockers’s new campaign:

For instance, one ad proclaims: “It’s time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to wear the pants.” Another urges, “Khaki diem,” while a third declares, “Behold the second dawn of man” — clad in a stylishly wrinkled pair of Dockers.

The tone — half serious, half kidding, both sending up and saluting truisms about masculinity — is one that has been heard in several campaigns lately that are aimed at younger men.

For example, ads describe Mitchum deodorant as the brand “for men who like their antiperspirant the way they like their coffee — strong and under $5.” Ads for Camel snus, a smokeless tobacco product, assert, “Be heard not herded.” And ads for Curve for Men fragrance present a make-believe men’s magazine with cover lines like “Cars, girls and girls on cars” and “Girls, cars, sports, girls, sports, cars.”

The “Dockers brand of masculinity is less about ‘Don’t eat quiche’ and more about being chivalrous and mature,” said Desmond LaVelle, senior vice president and creative director at Draft FCB San Francisco.

New masculinity attempts the same regendering we see in the better offshoots of new feminism — it’s about being the best you can be, and embracing gender alongside that. No one is interested in having everyone be the same; we just want equal opportunity to make choices.

How refreshing that these brands refuse to settle for Homer Simpson helplessness or Man Show machismo. Do take back the pants, friends. If you’d like to open the door for your lady when our hands are freezing or take us to dinner once in awhile, we’d love to celebrate your newfound chivalry with you.

A real woman appreciates gallantry from a real man.

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Examples of Coercion

In my first year of law school as a writing exercise we had to analyze “coercion.”  At what point do the conditions presented become so slanted as to render one party helpless to make a choice?

It’s a little paternalistic to assume that conditions could deprive someone of choice.  We’re all subject to the same underlying facts, the same desires, etc.  If one party is more susceptible to pressure than another, whose problem should that be?

Lately for some reason I keep seeing examples of debatable public “coercion.”  A lot of it is my trawling the internets for femme topics, stuff that speaks more directly to women.  But even a lot of feminism, I’ve said before, is somewhat a solipsistic response to imaginedly-coercive conditions.

With disclaimers that I’ve no firm position on which of these are coercive and which not, here are some examples:

Kate Harding’s “fantasy of being thin” reminds me of our sort of paternalistic fear of fat.  Is the push for calorie labels really just a response to coercive market conditions?  Or is it a real health initiative?  Is the “thin culture” coercive?

These Dove ads speak for themselves: Beauty is subjective.  When I was much younger I remember reading that beauty has a lot to do with proportionality — eyes:cheeks ratio, etc.  How much (intellectual) control do we have over our conclusions w/ re to beauty?

And finally, Burqa Barbie.  Barbie has in some ways (on a small scale) represented in the US what the Burqa represents abroad. As long as women make choices — to wear a Burqa or heels or get plastic surgery — it’s not for other women to judge.

When the message “you are imperfect” becomes so pervasive as to undermine women’s ability to choose, then we should stop permitting — or, indeed, requiring — messages that continue to reinforce that coercive message that really hurts women.

I’m so ignorant about Hijab feminism, but the whole “coercion” question is really interesting–see a great video here (WordPress, why are you so coquettish about embedding?!).

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Femme Mafia

I’ve been playing in girlie lit an awful lot recently; it’s subsumed a bit more of my consciousness than I like to admit.  Frankly it’s a little bizarre to hear so much chatter and realize there’s still so much animosity among folk who pretty roundly agree.

This morning I posted at The New Agenda that the iPhone app for “scoring chicks” — since yanked — is a little disgusting.   But realistically there’d be no market for the app if women really found it disgusting.

If men were pretty sure they couldn’t get away with “that” behavior (and, frankly, I can think of many more piggish things than using this app) then no one would buy it, right?  So while it’s men who make up the purchasing demographic, it’s women’s choice not to put our collective foot down that perpetuates such market.

It doesn’t matter why we choose not to get involved — we have many bigger fish to fry, or smart women don’t find themselves meeting men who might use a line like the app’s gross suggestions — the point is that we make a choice to shrug it off, and maybe enough women respond positively that men are intrigued enough to buy.

That’s the tension with feminism.  It’s about opportunity.  Look at the numbers.  Women have opportunity.  We have the opportunity to make life choices, and we make them. When other women or employers don’t respond to those choices with open arms it seems silly to blame them.  Willingness to assume a “victim” mentality irritates me in general, and there’s a really fine line between being objectified and objectifying oneself.

The ad clipped below captures the whole of that tension:

None of my female Muslim friends are close enough friends for this kind of disclosure; my experience with Hijab-ed sexuality is limited to books in the Reading Lolita in Tehran vein and one traumatic, fiercely-intimate massage in Morocco. That is to say: I have no idea how much an abayah is choice, tradition, feminine, and how much of it is oppression.

The ad itself is sexy and effective — I want to be more like that woman, from the skivvies and kohl out.  But is there any more perfect symbol than the abayah to represent that tension between what we want and what is imposed on us?

For the same tension closer to home, see this Dove ad:

It’s a fine line indeed.  I’m absolutely not suggesting that women experience no objectifying pressure.  What I’m suggesting is that the pressure is not entirely external.  And I’m suggesting that, to some degree, we embrace it.

Or maybe not.  Again, the tension.  Every time I encounter street jeers I want to ask the men whether that’s ever scored a date.  To some extent it really is just objectifying women, and it’s not about hope or interest.  Maybe it really is just about striking back against repressed feelings of rejection.

Look again at the Dove commercial.  Inasmuch as objectification stems from an aggressive defense mechanism it doesn’t come from men. It comes equally from women.

This is no novel conclusion. My takeaway?  It’s the residual willingness to assume a “victim” mentality that does the objectifying. It just seems so pointless to keep talking about a “glass ceiling” when in fact we should embrace the opportunity we have to make choices, acknowledge that there’s no single valid choice, and move forward.

I adore debate. There’s nothing I love more than moving the ball down the field. But this taste of gendered debate gets tiring quickly. I can’t help but feel like it’s just as sexist to pledge merit-blind support for someone because of her gender as it is to discriminate along the same lines.

It should be about being the change you want to see in the world. I will always resist the temptation to replace merit with simply card checking the right cache.

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Dove Marketing

These are really interesting:

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