by Kristi Faulkner
Now that the Woman Card has grabbed the spotlight in the political campaigns, brand marketers are asking themselves how they, too, can play the Woman Card.
Marketing to women is not as easy as it used to be, especially now that a woman may be president. Many brands are confused about how to play the Woman Card in a world where the go-to stereotypes are no longer relevant. In the old days, it was as simple as showing women dancing with mops or complaining about that elusive fresh feeling. Nowadays, not even making the product pink is a sufficient play of the Woman Card. But there are other Woman Card best practices that your brand could make use of.
Here's how to guarantee your brand plays the Woman Card effectively in the modern era:
- Even as women advance, there are still only five types of women in the world. Your brand communication should feature at least one: The Yoga-Pants-Wearing-GMO-and-Gluten-Free-Juicing Mom; The Rushed, Harried and Full-of-Regret Career Woman; The Hipster Granny; The Ethnically Ambiguous Best Friend, and the timeless classic, The Boobs. (The last one need not include an actual woman attached to them; they play the Woman Card on their own.)
- In spite of their ability to lead nations and compete successfully in corporate America, women will always dream of being sexually desired. And you don't have to be GoDaddy to effectively play this Woman Card. Virtually any grocery product can remind women that they are, first and foremost, a sexual object: See Kraft salad dressing, Liquid Plumr and the old standby, Bud Light beer.
- Remember, your brand is worthless to a woman if it doesn't empower her. A woman would achieve nothing if it weren't for the confidence she gets from a particular brand of deodorant, a soap that urges her to tell herself she's beautiful (because that's what matters most) or a maxi pad that ensures her she's always had the power to throw a ball without looking goofy. The best Woman Card brand campaigns convince women that without the empowerment provided by the product, they would lack the confidence to accomplish anything.
- Educational and economic progress aside, women continue to value youth and beauty more than anything. Campaigns for wrinkle cream, weight-loss products and especially fashion will have greater appeal if you cast 16-year old models in the roles of adults. The more expensive and aspirational your brand, the younger and thinner the model must obviously be.
- Women love babies. Increase your product's appeal with images of a woman holding both a briefcase and a baby. Or sitting in front of a computer holding a baby. And if she's simultaneously conducting an international conference call from her kitchen while cooking for a man waiting impatiently in front of an empty plate at the dinner table, she must be holding a baby, too. Babies in brand communication may seem gratuitous, but actually, there's no better way to telegraph that women can do it all. That's the Woman Card at its best.
- Women may purchase 72% of cars, but there's no need to have your automotive brand show them driving. If your brand strategy requires playing the Woman Card, put the woman in the passenger seat smiling adoringly at the male driver. Or have her wash the car for a gaggle of goggling guys. And if a scene in your ad requires a "closed course, professional driver" legal disclaimer, it definitely must have a man driving because women would never do that.
- For brands in the financial services category, avoid depicting women at all. They don't understand what you're talking about and it would take forever to explain it. She doesn't invest anyway. However, she does shop, so you could play the Woman Card by demonstrating how your financial products help her spend money faster and easier. After all, shopping gives her life meaning.
If you're a brand marketer who still has doubts about how to play the Woman Card effectively, hire an ad agency led by a team of misogynistic men and a token woman. These conventional thinkers have the expertise to deliver time-tested strategies for playing the Woman Card even on the most innovative digital, social and mobile platforms.
The Woman Card has always been a favorite of marketers, but the more women ascend, the more critical it is to remind them, with an incessant barrage of media images, exactly where they belong.