Marti Barletta, author of two books on marketing to women and founding member of the Women Gurus Network, has an article in the current Ad Age about Mad Men and the attitude toward women seen in it. She is not pleased.
I caught one of the recent reruns from the first season, and, just to stay current, tried to watch it all the way through. What raised the bile in the back of my throat was when the ad guys stumbled across the eternal question “What do women want?” and the flippant reply was “Who cares?” I don’t know about Leo Burnett or J. Walter Thompson, but ad legend David Ogilvy rolled in his grave at that moment. Here’s a guy who showed he understood what side his bread was buttered on when he said, “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.”
It’s a shame Ms. Barletta didn’t see that the episode in question (Ladies Room) is criticizing Roger’s attitude. Had she seen it all the way through, she’d have seen Don working and struggling to answer that question; in his own relationships and, concurrently, for the job.
But I’m not dissing Ms. Barletta”when you’re really close to a subject, it’s hard to tolerate bullshit, even when the bullshit is there in order to show, well, that it’s bullshit.
She goes on to say
Until two or three years ago, women as consumers were still thought of as a niche market. When my first book, “Marketing to Women,” was published in 2003, I’d get invited to speak at corporations by their emerging-markets teams — those poor souls charged with influencing 84% of the population (blacks, Hispanics, Asians and now women) with 5% of the budget. They brought me in to explain to their management that women are not an “emerging” market. At 51% of the population, they’re actually the majority market and make fully 80% of consumer spending decisions.
Now, this is stunning. “Niche” marketing to women may be fading into the past, but women are still relegated to the Fashion/Style section in mainstream media. I could give a thousand examples, but most recently is this article in the New York Times about the BlogHer conference. An article about female bloggers is (of course) “niche” and is relegated to Fashion/Style, whereas an article about the health of male bloggers back in April was in the Technology section. At the end it doesn’t matter who you are, every market have customers and I have heared that Sales force CRM software is the best to manage your customers. Just keep in mind that you are here to make profit and keep customers happy!
So, back to Ad Age. Ms. Barletta is peeved that women are so marginalized on Mad Men, and she wants us to know that 1962 was not the good old days. But you know what? We’re still marginalized, and talking about it through the medium of 1962 is a way of talking about it today. Mad Men is promoting, not denying, her mission.