Keep a cool head
It’s hot out there. And set to get hotter, if the Met Office is to be believed!
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not complaining. I’d much rather be too warm than too cold.
The problem is though, we’re not well geared up for it in the UK. Houses don’t tend to come equipped with air conditioning to help folk beat the heat, like they do in hotter climes around the globe.
Though there are clearly air con companies out there. Because one of them has been causing quite a stir in Nottingham!
The advert, designed by Lee Davis, the owner of Not Just Cooling, was telling people to prepare for the warm weather.
It was encouraging them to get the air conditioning fixed before temperatures soared.
All fine so far.
The problem came from the image of a woman wearing denim shorts and a white t-shirt and the headline…. ‘Your wife is hot’.
Mr Davis said he’d seen a similar advert over the pond in the USA and it was just a bit of harmless fun.
I have to admit, as someone that isn’t easily offended, I did have a little chuckle and admired his bravado.
But, out in the real world, not everyone saw the funny side.
Off the buses
The advert was intended to be displayed on seven buses throughout Nottingham, but Adverta, who is responsible for places ads on the city’s transportation, blocked it, stating it would cause offence.
Instead, it somehow appeared on a billboard.
Where an academic spotted it and declared it to be ‘plain sexist’.
Staff at the school uniform supply shop located opposite the billboard were not impressed either.
They claimed it be old-fashioned, like something out of the 70’s or 80’s, and not appropriate for this day and age.
Professor Carrie Paechter, director of the Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families, went back even more decades and said the advert was “like something out of the 1950s”.
Last month, following a review of gender stereotyping by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a new rule came into force which prohibits harmful gender stereotyping in advertisements.
The ASA hasn’t actually received any complaints about the air con billboard.
But the belief, from those who are up in arms about it, is that it sends out the subliminal message that it’s ok to comment on women’s bodies.
And that women can be viewed as possessions (‘your wife’).
It’s also claiming that men are the practical ‘doers’ around the house and it’s a man’s job to deal with things such as fixing the air conditioning.
Well, let’s face it… It doesn’t really send out positive messages about modern society and people should be viewed and treated.
Know your audience
Sure, if you’re pedaling lads’ mags and your target end-user is a male, top shelf reading material purchaser, you might get away with a ‘little bit of fun’.
But most companies out there aren’t in the business of selling sex.
And it’s not the 1950’s – or even ‘70’s or 80’s.
Gone are the days when men were the ones who were principally responsible for purchasing cars and doing DIY around the house.
Believe it or not, we women have burned our aprons!
We have minds of our own. Hold down jobs. Can fix things. And not all of us have a man in our lives!
And even if we do, it doesn’t stop us being practical.
I know females, myself including, who can change a wheel or the oil in the car, fix a leaky pipe and fell a tree!
And we are savvy consumers.
Does a brand really want to disenfranchise a potential 50% of their target market by getting the message so out of whack?!
They are pretty stupid, if they do.
You’re just asking to give your customer feedback management teams a hard team when you get it so wrong.
Ditch the stereotypes
It’s 2019. I know that. Your consumers know that. But do you?!
You need to be delivering an emotive end-user experience. Making customers happy.
Not pissing them off by being sexist, racist or any ‘ist’ in your brand marketing.
It’s simply not appropriate.
Do you know who your audience is?
If not, you need to find out what they want. What makes them tick? What do they find offensive?
Sure, you might discover your products or services are only aimed at sexist bigots.
In which case, knock yourself out. Be rude, crude and socially unacceptable. See if I care. Your day will come. And I will laugh when it does.
However, when you carry out your end-user experience monitoring (or get us to do it!) I think you’re more likely to discover that your customer base is diverse.
Men and women. Of different shapes, sizes, colour and sexual orientation.
And that doesn’t matter. Because that’s the way of the world.
You need to appeal to everyone.
Sure, as the old saying goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
But get to know your audience and give it a try.
You might just be pleasantly surprised.
Now, time to get out the yellow pages and find someone other than Mr Davis and his crew to come and fix my air con…