Woman, heal thyself: Second opinions are good for your health.

Lately, like many women my age, I’ve been dealing with my in-laws’ heath issues as well as a few of my own. Navigating an illness is never easy, but if you’re a woman of a certain age, the way you were socialized and taught to converse with physicians could be the biggest obstacle to receiving great care.

Here’s a video I created for company that was trying to encourage women to seek second options before agreeing to surgery. See if it rings true for you, your mom or friends.

Now, getting a second opinion before a surgery sounds like a no-brainer, I know, but for women of my mother-in-laws’ generation (and even my own) a doctor’s advice is often taken as gospel. And to question it, no matter how politely, is tantamount to heresy. Pshaw, y’all.
It turns out that a second opinion can change the diagnosis or the treatment 30% of the time, yet almost half of all Americans don’t get second opinions according to a 2005 Gallup poll.
If you’re ever feeling a bit hesitant about questioning a doctor’s advice, remember that when it comes to your health, you shouldn’t worry about hurting your doctor’s feelings. The first person you have to be good to is YOU. This means taking the time to see another physician in person and taking your test results or any other information with you. And, no, checking around online doesn’t count as a second opinion.
As Chief Wellness Officer of the household, women tend to take care of everyone in the family first and treat their own health issues “when there’s time.” That’s a topic for another post, for now just remember what your pilot always says prior to take off: “Always put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others.”

closeup GSD&M Addy Award Program ad

If I don’t laugh, does that make me a prude?

Call me an optimist, but thanks to The 3% Conference and The Representation Project,  I thought agencies and brands were finally  getting the message that you should (at a minimum) try not to insult or ignore women in your ads or your workplace.  And then I saw this ad. Let’s take another look at it. (Don’t worry if you don’t understand it, a lot of women didn’t and I’ll explain in a second .)

closeup GSD&M Addy Award Program ad

In case you are not currently an adolescent boy, the visuals in the coupon ad are shorthand for male masturbation.

This is an ad by GSD&M that ran in the local ADDY Awards show and is meant to make fun of how self-involved ad people are. Which is fine. We love laughing at ourselves. But this joke only includes men.

This little ad speaks volumes about the male-dominated culture that still reigns within creative departments practically everywhere. It assumes boy humor is the only humor that matters. And that women in the creative department will laugh unless 1) they’re prudes or 2)  they don’t have a sense of humor or  3)  they’re too sensitive or 4) they’re just bad creatives.

It rarely occurs to a male CD or ECD to wonder if the puerile joke he thinks is so funny will be at all entertaining to women. And when he does wonder, he simply asks his wife.

GSD&M does some fantastic work. They have been a sponsor of The 3% Conference and this past October, they even sent an executive from their Diversity team to the conference in SF. On their homepage they describe themselves as really nice people who work with “companies who stand for something and companies that want to transcend their categories and be a positive force in people’s lives.”

It’s time for GSD&M to walk their talk. And that means raising their standards of what a good, funny ad is. That means judging creative beyond the male default setting (which can be tough since the agency only has ONE female Creative Director). That means asking, “Is it as good for you as it is for me?” Even when, or especially when, that ad is intended solely for the ad industry itself. It means rising above the crowd when they’re playing in the tired, overused gutter of stereotypes and locker room humor and showing lesser agencies how it’s done.

It means recognizing that there are women in your creative department and they’d like to be in on the joke, too. (Many women were more bored than offended by the ad. )

Speaking of, I asked some women what they thought of the ad. These were my questions:

Is this a clever ad?
Does it speak to both men and women in the industry?
Does it imply that only men will be winning the ADDY Awards?
Is it offensive to you? Is it offensive to most women?
Is this creative work something an agency should be proud to submit as an example of their prowess?
If you were a young woman considering a career in advertising, would this ad suggest that this industry will value you?

Here’s a smattering of the responses that are indicative of the whole, but I’d like to know what you think.

Q: Does this ad imply that only men will be winning the ADDY Awards?
 A: I guess it does – unless the women up for ADDY awards are hermaphrodites.
Q: Is it offensive to you? Is it offensive to most women?  
A: Offensive to me as a woman? No.  Humor is highly personal so I can’t speak for most women.  Plus I have a mouth like a sailor.  As a creative woman, I would’ve been offended that the vulgar joke EXCLUDED me.

A: I have a good sense of humor and a little of inuendo is funny, but I think this crosses a lot of lines, professionally and gender-ly. I’ve long thought the Addys were getting out of control in this way and just quit even paying attention to them. Never went back to Ad Fed either. Think I voiced my opinion on this the year they had an S&M theme for the ceremony. Shaking my head…

A: Yes, this is offensive to me..It’s offensive to women because it:
1. Leaves us out of the joke
2. Marginalizes
3. Makes it “uncool” to be offended by masturbation
4. Trivializes the power of advertising.
Q: Is this creative work something an agency should be proud to submit as an example of their prowess?
A: No.  It’s weak creative, frankly.
A: I’d fire whoever approved this.
A: This is clever if you have an IQ of 85!
It really spoke to my 18 year old son and to a 56 year old fireman. They both said that only idiots use tissue.
A: Okay, this ad makes ZERO sense to me. I don’t get it at all
A: I didn’t get it….  In fact, I found it so perplexing, I asked my husband to look at it. Oddly enough, he got it right away….!
Q: If you were a young woman considering a career in advertising, would this ad suggest that this industry will value you?
A: How can you say you value something you routinely exclude or ignore?  Unless you need to market tampons….
A: It would tell me that despite this being 2014, despite the fact that more women enter college than men, despite the fact that women are now starting more businesses than men, despite the fact that well over 85% of purchasing decisions are made by women, that if you want to be part of this industry, you have to join the fraternity of dunces, pretend to be a pubescent, frustrated adolescent boy who’s highest priority is not to leave the world a better place, but to instead focus on his pee pee.

The ad above is an idea any male creative could have over one beer. Probably the first thing they scribbled down. I don’t begrudge them working fast. I’m challenging them to think beyond boy humor, include women and strive for something that’s more universal and intelligent.  Think beyond your own narrow ideas of taste.

And for all you female CDs (all one or two of you) please have the courage to send guys back to the drawing board. You’re our best hope for keeping ads like these in the circular file where they belong.

GSD&M Addy Awards Program Ad

Humor is a girl’s best friend

One of my favorite illustrations of a very under utilized emotion in marketing to women: Humor.

Once you get off the youtube channel and into more mainstream advertising, and particularly when you enter the realm of marketing to women, humor is woefully overlooked in most brand’s tool boxes. Sad really, since women really crave it. (Poll 10 women at random and ask them what they look for in the perfect man. I guarantee you humor will make the top 3.)

Did you know a different part of the the female brain lights up when she laughs? Actually, up to nine different parts activate according to MRI studies cited in THE FEMALE BRAIN. Compare that to only one or two sections that engage when a man has the same emotion. Why should you care about this as a marketer? All those connections increase your chance of being remembered. And since women store memories as emotions, why not be associated with a smile?  We could all use some more of that.

Say Yes to Beautiful, Without Paying the Price

This blog entry was written by our fabulous intern, Lindsay Chronister. She’s an advertising student at UT Austin. She will be graduating this May and is a part of the Texas Media Sequence. And now, a bit about Suave.
Yes, we know the Suave campaign has been around for a while, but we’re talking about it anyway. Why? Because there are not a lot of campaigns like it. Why? We have no idea. It’s brilliant!
In 2007, Unilever’s Suave set out to find the answer to this question: Can motherhood and womanhood co-exist? Yes, but 84% of mothers have admitted to letting themselves go, yet 76% think it’s just as important that mothers take care of themselves as well as their families. Can you spot a discrepancy here? Suave spotted an opportunity.
In an Ad Age article Gigi Caroll says “I’m a mother, not a moron.” There are no perfect moms and moms are tired of being portrayed as such. She says moms want “a dose of reality.” Suave offers this in their campaign. In the Suave anthem commercial ( a woman is featured as she progresses through dating, engagement, getting married and having kids. It features her in all the chaos of being a mom and shows how this can affect her hair and ultimately, how she feels as a woman. The commercial is humorous and full of truth. Here’s the best part…
-93% of moms said they feel good when they take care of themselves
-76% feel happier and more attractive
-60% feel more feminine
-Over 50% feel they are setting a good example for their children
Here’s what Jennifer, a mommy blogger had to say…
“Maybe it’s a bit simplistic to think that simply washing my hair with a Suave shampoo is going to help the woman in me come out, especially since I spend the vast majority of my days covered in spit-up. However, the fact that this ad campaign speaks to the fact that I deserve more than daily laundry and tantrum control, leaves me wanting to hi-five the ad executives who realized this often overlooked fact. Since hi-fives are unlikely, I’ll just continue to buy my Suave Sleek Shampoo, Conditioner, and Smoothing Liqui-Gel.”
We love the Suave campaign because we can totally relate. What so many marketers miss every day is that moms (and all consumers, ahem, people) are not just another demographic. They have real lives and real problems and real needs. Are you addressing them?
In our recent research, we found that women feel the best thing a company can do for them is solve a problem. That’s why women love the Suave campaign. Suave acknowledges the hectic life of a mother and her common budget constraints and solves the problem with affordable hair care solutions that can make her feel beautiful without feeling guilty about it. Perfection!

Funny Friday Video: Pulling your hair into a ponytail is not the same thing as taking a shower.

I’m working on a presentation I’ll be giving in Sweden next month and I’m looking for examples of of well-executed humor in campaigns targeting women. They are rare, but, as I’ve mentioned before,  this one makes the cut . It’s a customizable “Mother of the Year Award”  viral video from The one I got named me, Mary Dean, as the honored recipient.

And that’s not even the funniest part.

Do you know of a commercial, viral video, print ad, or radio spot that does a good job of using humor to connect with you as a woman or a mom? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Funny (but true) Friday video: When a brand loves a woman….this won’t happen

I was delivering a keynote in Dubai a couple of years ago and one of the other presenters at the marketing conference used this video in her presentation. I thought it was a brilliant, succinct and funny summary of  most marketer’s myopia when it comes to connecting with women.   Once you’ve had a good laugh, go back and consider some of the points it makes. My particular favorite is the roll of humor. Women would actually welcome much more humor in advertising and marketing. It’s just that the little boy gags ad agencies produce rarely reach, much less tickle, our funny bone.

What brand do you need to break up with today? They just wanted to get into your purse.

Walk a mile in my heels

New York Times editor Dana Jennings blogs every Tuesday about his life fighting advanced prostate cancer. As usual, this week’s post about the hormonal side effects of his medication is insightful, brutally honest, thought-provoking….and FUNNY.
Strangely enough, his latest musings got me thinking about marketing. Namely, how much more effective we’d be at our jobs if it were possible to truly FEEL what it’s like to BE our customers. (OK, to be honest, I was thinking how much easier MY job would be if I could wave a wand and POOF give some certain male CMOs a short-lived jolt of estrogen.)
Sure, the little nuggets and insights we get from research are illuminating. And yes, empathy can go a long way. But I doubt Dana would have ever truly appreciated the sheer power of the HGTV-peanut-butter-M&Ms-combo after a crying jag if all he’d done was peruse a report about menopausal mood swings and weight gain.
Granted, the idea is not a new one. We all remember the movies, What Women Want and Tootsie. But there is a certain Aha! moment that’s inspired ] by hearing a real guy like Dana relate his own epiphany about the “mysterious and hormonal” world of women. Send his post to a man you love who has to love you through good times and bad.

We’d never wish Dana’s experience on anyone, but we might as well learn from it.