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Leo Burnett presents ‘Miss Understood’ in Puerto Rico

Presentation examines why advertisers lack the ability to connect with women


March 24, 2005
Copyright © 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Last week, during the Festival de Publicidad Cúspide, held in the Caribe Hilton Hotel, Leo Burnett Worldwide offered its presentation "Miss Understood: She’s not buying your ads," a study on advertisers’ inability to connect with women and the possible reasons for this.

Leo Burnett Puerto Rico brought Denise Fedewa to present the study results. Fedewa, senior vice president & planning director at Leo Burnett Chicago, is also part of LeoShe, a consulting group within the agency for its clients. It also served as consultant for the movie What Women Want.

The genesis of "Miss Understood" came about when a creative group at Leo Burnett woke up to the fact that advertising aimed at women was lacking something. Fedewa and her team realized most ads geared towards women were stereotypical, simplistic and ineffective, and unpalatable to the majority of women. Fedewa said the group asked itself, why Procter & Gamble, whose products target women, had such bad advertising.

Advertisers and consumer product executives who don’t target women successfully have a lost potential, Fedewa said.

Fedewa described the situation as a problem of human nature, of people thinking that the way they see the world is the only possible way to view it. Sometimes people in the ad industry see the world differently from the way women do. Advertisers rely too much on the clichéd image of the woman as a mom. They need to throw out the female stereotypes to be able to connect with their targets, "and maybe we can talk to women in women mode, not mom mode," Fedewa stated.

Simple laziness is another major problem in developing advertising for women. "We [in the ad industry] get lazy and rely on clichés, and don’t take the time to connect with women," Fedewa conceded. She said the problem seems to be universal because advertising targeted toward women appears to be similar everywhere.

To find out how to improve advertising geared towards women, Leo Burnett organized a research team made up of staff members from the agency’s offices in Toronto, Chicago, Miami, and Puerto Rico. They conducted a 10-month-long study that included informal focus groups in seven different countries with 1,000 women, from teens to 40-somethings, an analysis of pop culture, online discussions with husbands, and interviews with several experts in the field.

The research highlighted something many advertisers and consumer product companies already know: women make up to 80% of all buying decisions in a household. In many cases, they hold the economic power in the family. Advertisers need to keep this in mind when developing ads for women, Fedewa noted.

"Miss Understood: She’s not buying your ads," points to five key areas that impact marketing aimed at women, which advertisers need to take into account when preparing their ads. These are: money, sex, emotion, authenticity, and humor. For one thing, women aren’t afraid of their sexuality and they respond to advertising with the right expression of female sexuality and independence, if its presented from a woman’s point of view, revealed Leo Burnett’s presentation.

The "fair sex" also wants to see multifaceted, multidimensional women with a deep emotional core. "All of this has to be presented in a way that feels authentic, and advertisers need to present their products in an honest way that rings true to women," Fedewa added.

Humor is also essential when advertising to women. Leo Burnett discovered there is little humor in advertising for women and they would welcome more of it. Most ads aimed at women today are just plain serious. "Women watch funny television shows, however, the humor has to be well presented. It has to be warm, not mean-spirited or stereotypical," Fedewa explained.

Advertisers appear to be waking up and improving their femme-oriented productions. Fedewa pointed out, "there is more awareness about women being decision makers and more recognition of them as targets, and we [at Leo Burnett] are hoping ‘Miss Understood’ has rallied the industry to make better ads."

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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