Women still boxed in by ads

By Wenlei Ma | 7 November 2013

Advertisers are still putting women in a box instead of targeting behaviours, according to a Century of Women panel hosted by research and strategy firm The Lab.

The Lab strategy director Sarah Lorimer said one of the discussion points on the night, hosted last week in Melbourne, was the issue of advertising which continued to group women together as one amorphous group.

“As an industry, how can we stop doing that? Women have different personalities and play different roles but we still seem to be putting women in a box – you're the mum, or you're the grandmother or you're the corporate woman,” Lorimer said.

“Why can't you take to them as people who value an orderly household or cleanliness or wholesomeness? Or maybe as someone who enjoys something that smells nice. Something other than 'you're a woman and you got to the supermarket'?

“By [speaking more directly to a behaviour set] you're going to develop a brand proposition that means more and is relevant. If you can ever come up with that strategy, you'll get to the truth of the product.

'It doesn't actually come down to gender, women are more different than they are alike.”

Often, advertising around grocery products, especially those associated with cleaning products, speak specifically to women. That strategy is often based around the concept that a high percentage of main grocery buyers are women.

These ads will sometimes only portray women as using the products or use a testimonial-style approach such “Eight out of 10 mums prefer Brand X washing powder”.

On the panel with Lorimer were Fairfax director of Life Media Melina Cruikshank, president of the Australian Association of Relationship Counsellors Guy Vicars, Monash University head of the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics associate professor Rita Wilson and author Catherine Fox.

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