Same Old Song

Funny, GM just announced that Tim Allen will be the new voice of Chevrolet which spends hundreds of millions on the brand, and today I see that Campbell’s has signed Tim Allen as their spokesman for a $100 million campaign. Both brands see themselves as the all-American choice, so they chose kind of a Mr. Dad to speak on their behalf’s.

Can’t help but wonder if we aren’t ready for a woman to sell soup and Chevy’s, if we aren’t more diverse than this in 2010, if hearing the same voice dominate the TV air won’t make it that much more homogenous annd irrelevant. Tim’s a great handyman/Santa/swell guy, but doesn’t this feel a little 1985?

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Team Player

Reading Brandweek today, I noticed Under Armour is making a big push in their marketing to women efforts with their latest campaign, “Protect This House.  I Will.”  Adrienne Lofton, senior marketing director of their women’s business, is quoted in Brandweek as saying, “[the campaign] aims to get beyond the message that this brand is the best in the world in performance training…” and change their target’s current perception of Under Armour as their “boyfriend’s brand.”  The campaign, which includes a facebook page and several TV spots featuring well-known female athletes (including Lindsey Vonn, my girl crush), will no doubt meet that goal, and generate a lot of buzz while they’re at it.  Everyone loves to see strong women kicking ass (especially when they’re wearing hot gear).  But looking closer at the core message of the campaign, I think they’ve also touched on something really unique…the emotional power of ‘the team’. 

We know from other categories (and from being women ourselves!)  that one of the most effective ways to connect with women is by touching on and understanding their relationships.  Women make deep connections—for validation, information, support.  Under Armour took this insight and applied it to sports, which works beautifully.  For women, teams aren’t just a way to showcase their individual ability, they’re the whole reason to compete.   They recognize the whole as bigger than the parts.   The success of a team is bigger than if it’s an individual win.  The loss hurts less, because you know there are other people that feel exactly the same way you do.  There is this group that can relate to you completely, no matter what your emotion is.  In my opinion, women are able to slip into that universal mindset and sync up with their teammates more effectively than their male counterparts, because that’s what they’re used to doing in their day to day lives.

Well done, Under Armour.  It will be interesting to watch the reactions.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch the spot for the 6th time today.  Love that Lindsey!

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Content & Advertising Sending Mixed Signals

I love that the Internet gets me. Privacy issues aside, I like knowing that when I’m on a favorite website the banner ads are directed at me and my interests.

It used to be that advertisers went where the content was but now with the help of technology, no matter where I am, the advertising content can be relevant. But if it is relevant to me, should it also still be relevant to the page content? Take for instance this article on being happy with living with less from today.

As I scrolled down however, I was struck by a real estate ad, not for a broker or agent, but for the New York Times Real Estate section. It was showcasing none other than a vacation estate in Paris.  While this did catch my attention, I wondered, was this poor placement on New York Times’ part, or was my online search behavior causing this ad to appear?  (Perhaps this placement says more about how my own interests can be at odds with one another – “How to live with less in a mansion in Europe”.)

As technology gets more sophisticated and websites continue to jockey for ad dollars, it is important to find a good balance between personalized advertising and ads that are also relevant to the content. Otherwise, one could ask, “are you really talking to me?”

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Adventure, fun, oh my. What is your brand communicating?

This weekend after incessant nagging from my sister we went kayaking for the first time. It all happened a bit too quickly for my controlling, cautious, always-trying-to-avoid-nature self.

After getting the keys stuck in the ignition of my dad’s stick shift pick-up truck we barely made it a mile down the road alive and spent all of 30 minutes on water 4 inches deep.  We crashed our kayaks, I tried to start a race (being the competitive one) but my sister refused to participate, I complained of boredom while she took in the wildlife, we both freaked out that we were going to tip over and an hour later we were back safe at our house.

Later that evening over cheeseburgers and a bottle of wine, my sister, (a married mother or two living in rural Colorado) leaned over to me (a *much* younger woman living by myself in the middle of Manhattan), and whispered, “I can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did during our adventure today.”

Adventure? Huh. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but, yes, I guess I did experience a (small) thrill and I begrudgingly admitted that I enjoyed myself too.

The next day I smiled while reading Katie Roiphe’s article in the Times about our adoration for Mad Men and their uninhibited lives (aside from their fabulous wardrobes). We’ve been talking recently with some of our clients about the nostalgia of fun, whirlwind experiences; not knowing where the day or night might take you is something that might be missing in our buttoned up lives. It may not be all random hook-ups and boozy lunches it may just be braving the calm seas to paddle a kayak for the first time, but communicating that your brand has a hint of spontaneity and embraces unknown possibility will never go out of style.

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Will Brands Understand Sunset Daze?

So I am a huge television watcher. I wish I meant PBS or Masterpiece Theater. But nope, I am a classless, reality show junkie much to my husband’s dismay (he likes WWII movies and documentaries!). Besides getting caught up in the drama of other people’s drama I like watching how brands are getting weaved into story lines. What are they drinking? Whose cars are they driving? What product are they the spokesperson for? How do brands calculate risk?

So I watch the launch of WE’s bold new reality show “Sunset Daze” with curiousity. This show is about people, mostly women, living in a retirement community. Can you hear the audible gasp of 20 something media buyers everywhere? What would brands do with people 60+ besides sell them Poise or life insurance?

If I had one marketing message to scream from the rooftops it would be to MIND THE BOOMER. As much as companies want to go younger and younger all of the time there is enormous opportunity with Boomer Women. They have more money, more free time and the most loyalty. In the almost 11 years we’ve been in business I can count on two hands how many clients have wanted to really understand the emotional triggers of these women. Fewer than that have actually done anything with the information.

So what marketing surrounds “Sunset Daze”? Frankly, I’m a little dissapointed. On the WE site they actually have a game called “Bling my Cart” as in golf cart. Really? Couldn’t do better than that? What’s next? How many Geritols are in the jar? I’ve checked out the bios of the cast and some of them are barely above 60. That is far from over the hill but we are supposed to be shocked that they still want to live a little – go dancing, talk about sex and even date!

What brands do you think should have a place in a show like this? My first instinct is luxury cars, quick serve restaurants, airlines and hotels. I wish clothing and beauty would get into the act also but I won’t hold my breath.

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No Advertising Love For Single Women

Want to know why you don’t see more single women in advertising – check out  Ashley Milne-Tyte’s report on NPR where I offer some reasons why.

One of the biggest reasons I believe that more companies aren’t featuring more single females is that with limited ad budgets (even the big companies have reigned in spending) they want to reach as many women as possible without breaking the bank. I don’t think that it’s because marketers are behind the times, but that  companies have to justify the reason why they would opt to only focus on single women.  Yes, more single women are running households but the goal for these companies is to be as inclusive as possible and hope that they aren’t alienating anyone.

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Old Spice is a Whole Truth Brand: “The Man your Man Could Smell Like” is the perfect marketing with women execution

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Last night while catching up on last week’s DVR’d Lost, I saw for the first time a new pool-out of Old Spice’s “Smell like a Man, Man” campaign and I loved it!  I must have rewound it 3 times!  This new spot from Wieden + Kennedy, “The man your man could smell like”, hits the Whole Truth right on the head. 

Not only do they give a nod to the fact that men are grabbing their partner’s “lady scented” body wash while in the shower, they also recognize that the primary shopper for body wash is most likely the woman of the house. 

While the earlier spots specifically targeted him, this one takes a turn and focuses on her. The over-the-top flaunting of the beautiful man on the beautiful yacht, offering the perfect gift  “Two tickets to that thing you love.” is a sneaky way to sell men’s body wash.  Make her want her man to smell like a man…If you can’t sway him, sway her!  The execution is brilliant and my next trip to Duane Reade might just include a stop at the Old Spice shelf!

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It’s Real Simple. Listening will make her happy.

Stephanie Holland at She-conomy reports on Real Simple’s recent Happiness study where it looks as though what makes men and women happy differs dramatically. (Check out the full list on Stephanie’s website.)

While brains and brawn are on the top ten for both, and it seems that money can buy happiness with their choosing luxury trips, cars and big houses, there were three areas where the differences seemed to stand out the most.

1. A big house would make him the most happy, while she would be happiest with a permanently clean home. The Whole Truth here is that she doesn’t want more home than she can handle and she would be really happy if someone else did the cleaning!

2. He’d be happy with a personal assistant and she would be happy saying “no” more.   It seems he needs more and she believes she gives too much.

3. He said a better sex life would make him happy.  She said more time for herself would make her happy. The Whole Truth on this one is better left unsaid! Perhaps that luxury tripis a solo one for her!  They both believe that a really romantic relationship will make them happier however.

It’s no surprise then that when men and women try to make each other happy they can miss the mark.  Half Truth: People try hard to make others happy. Whole Truth: They think about what they’d personally like rather than paying close attention to the other’s desires. (I almost made this mistake for Valentine’s day when I thought about getting my husband the couple’s massage over the round of golf with the guys.)  

This happens often in marketing as well. Marketers think they know what women want so they don’t bother to ask.   Power listening is one way to really make her happy. By engaging in conversation with your consumers, asking the right questions, really listening to what she wants and delivering will make her more than happy at the register.

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Superbowl XLlV: When Causes Collide

That huge thud you’ll be hearing on Superbowl Sunday won’t just be a running back slamming onto the field. The heavy hitting may be thrown between the plays when CBS runs its various “advocacy spots“. “Advocacy ads are a good way to get a point across” is a Half Truth. The Whole Truth is that they’re “good” when it’s your POV they’re espousing.

The first salvo came with the Focus on the Family group’s entry in support of the pro-life movement featuring Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and his mom. Once the word got out that they had bought time, women’s groups pounced and pro-life folks defended. CBS, which has barred advocacy spots in the past, decided to take a pass and allow opposing or alternative advocacy spots to pay up and buy their own spots.

So perhaps over the coming two weeks, when we ought to be raising money for Haiti or just saving money to pay our healthcare bills, we’ll be tapped to pony up to pay for Superbowl spots for one side vs the other, fueling a cause against cause free for all in a living room near you.

What worries me about this is two things: 1. that while abortion affects all of us, it’s largely a women’s issue. In recent years, the NFL has crowed about their growth in female viewers and advertisers have been going for it ever since. But now a “women’s” issue will plop onto the coffee table, next to the nachos and beer and somehow I feel that women will be the losers who ruined the fun of watching the game or caused fistfights over issues instead of touchdowns.

And I also worry that maybe there are some parts of our hectic and pressured lives that deserve to be left alone. There are only a handful of programs that gather as many people together for a good time. The Superbowl. The Oscars. The finales of American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and 24. Throwing this important and inflammatory issue into the center of what should be a small oasis of family and friend time, seems like ambush marketing in its worst form. And the marketers who paid their few and hard earned dollars to place a spot about Clydesdales or Doritos in a game that’s just been scrubbed after its own tussle with a wardrobe malfunction—should speak up about the damage to the brand that spills onto their messages. The Superbowl brand isn’t the same if it’s turning the playing field into a political bloodbath. Thud.

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When it comes to talking about getting “me time”, Moms will often play the martyrdom card and tell us how every minute of the day belongs to someone else. I can’t count how many times we’ve heard women tell us that they need to shower with the door open in case someone needs them.

That is why I love the new FLO TV commercial for their new personal television device. We see a young boy heading to the bathroom. His Dad asks where he’s going and he says, “big boy potty”. As any parent who has had to potty train knows, bathroom independence is a godsend.  As the little boy closes the door behind him, his Dad offers encouragement through the door, “I’m so proud of you.”  What Dad doesn’t know is that his son has locked himself in the bathroom for some quality alone time so he can watch cartoons on his FLO TV.

I love that they have tapped into the Whole Truth that while some will say they have no time to themselves, people across America are hiding out in their bathrooms. To see a young child doing this brings this insight home even more.  Women are constantly admitting that they often sneak around to get a few solitary minutes. And even during a cocktail party over the holidays I found myself in a conversation with 3 couples who have children, sharing details on how they pretend they are “going to the bathroom” but secretly reading magazines.  Now the real question, can you get away with watching a 30-minute sitcom while “going to the bathroom”? Husbands might start getting worried!

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January 22, 2022
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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