Can brands stop treating women like fluffy, pink-loving, delicate flowers?

Ruth Mortimer is Marketing Week’s associate editor and a prolific blogger. She won a PPA Award for her forthright and insightful columns on marketing.

I hate female-focused marketing. Yes, despite being a woman myself, I dread the appearance in my inbox of yet another press release for a ladies-friendly campaign. It would cheer me up substantially if all brands could sign up to a charter banning them from ever undertaking excruciating gender-specific marketing ever again. (Use of the colour pink on anything female would also be punishable by death.)

Take the “It’s Girls’ Time” initiative from ice cream brand Haagen-Dazs – you can see some images below. Now, ice cream is obviously popular with women, among other human beings. So the brand is running a “Boudoir” pop-up space to replicate the idea of a girls’ night in. The boudoir can be specially reserved for groups of friends, with extras including a fashionable wardrobe and cooking masterclasses available on-site.

Good god. I am obviously weird because my friends and I have never sat around spooning luxury ice cream into each others’ mouths and crying about boys. Yes, ok, we probably have cried about boys, but that is usually on the way back from the pub. If we have a night in, we are there to save money. If we are on a night out, we don’t want to replicate staying in.

I’m probably being harsh about Haagen-Dazs. I’ve asked around and it appears that the teenagers I know think it is a “pretty cool” idea. They can’t go to the pub yet and actually, they thought this was pretty glamorous and something a bit different. So if the ice cream brand is targeting 16 year old girls and their mates, not women, this is right on point.

I think it is just that having seen Molson Coors launching special beers for women this week (click here for our story about it), I’m sensitive about the gender marketing issue. Why wouldn’t women want the same things from beer as men? The women I know who don’t like beer are not fans for exactly the same reasons as the men who don’t like beer – the taste. They do not have more specific feminine foibles surrounding what they drink.

Am I alone in hating women-focused marketing? I completely understand targeting but perhaps I feel that in non-clothing or non-beauty issues such as food, my gender is not the most important thing about me. I wish there were more brands that felt the same.


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