The Harvard Business review found that marketing to women represents a bigger financial opportunity than India and China combined. Women are now involved in 80% of household purchasing decisions. And how many advertising directors are female? Only 3%.
This might be the reason that so much of the ad industry's female-orientated output feels hopelessly out-of-date. Be they heavy-handed, stereotypical or patronising, there are certain advert clichés that are guaranteed to have us reaching for the remote.
1. The Pink Stereotype
You'd think ad companies would have clocked to the waves of outrage that flood the internet every time something surfaces for women that's unnecessarily pink and cutesie (Bic For Her, anyone?)
Not Barclays, who look like doing more damage to their less-than-sparkling reputation with their latest advert, featuring a stereotypical depiction of a pink-loving, spoilt little madam. Yes, the advert is amusingly executed - if a little questionable, message-wise - and yes, middle-aged men clearly seem to be the target here. But why risk alienating women by making everything pink. And what's with those pigtails? Eugh.
Women don't want to see stereotypical portrayals of women. We don't all want everything to be pink, and we're sick of the colour being used as a lazy short-hand for girly. Must try harder.
2. The Cheesefest
Do women want to see engaging, heartwarming stories in their advertising? Of course they do. The success of the John Lewis Christmas ads (the first of which, the authentic and brilliantly put together 'She's Always A Woman To Me' proved particularly popular with women).
But there's a very fine line between heartwarming and cheesy, and too often adverts see that line approaching and decide to smash on through, all guns blazing, with the aim of wringing every last drop from our swollen tear ducts.
3. The Supermum
Everyone wants a bit of recognition now and again, and mothers are no different. We work hard, and occasionally it's important to be appreciated. But we're not saints. And neither are we all alone, battling supermarkets, wrapping paper and brussel sprouts with nothing to keep us company except a vegetable peeler and our old-fashioned woman's mettle.
It started with P & G's 'Proud Sponsors of Mums' campaign in the summer, and continued into the Christmas period, where the super-stressed supermum was more commonly sighted than ever, popping up in nationwide campaigns for both Asda and Morrisons.
If advertisers truly want to get through to mothers, they need to drop the 'supermum' schtick. It sets us up for failure - how could we ever compare? - and does a disservice to the family around us that make being a mum such a wonderful job. Mothers are real, wonderful, fallible people, just like everyone else. Yes, it's stressful, but we're not fighting a war. Portraying us as superheroes will only result in rolled eyes and a changed channel.
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