Teaching, Promoting, Cheering UX and SEO Since 2002

When Marketing to Women Makes Them Feel Inadequate and Unworthy

FutureNow’s Holly Buchanan asked a great question and there was no way I was going to pass this one up. She writes about an ad for women’s wear that features two male bodies in suits with balloons for heads and one female body with no head at all. She has a steel rod or needle for a head, followed by a body wearing an outfit that seriously offers no clue as to how the breasts stay in place.

Holly presents this image in her blog post, Images that Appeal to Women? and then asked,

This was an ad targeting women? So, I looked closer and realized the woman didn’t have a steel rod jutting through her body, she had a pin coming out of her body. (You simply cannot make this stuff up)

OK – I’m dying to ask – what is the message of this ad? What is the ad saying to women?

I decided to try my hand at this. It reminds me of poetry classes in college, where we analyzed the symbology and tried to figure out what the poet was really saying.

The two male bodies aren’t facing the female body. They’re facing away from her. The female headless body is walking as if entering the room, ready to pop some eyeballs (the balloon headed men?) when they see her mini-skirt, legs, breasts screaming to fall out any second and tiny waist.

Like, if I wore this pretty little number to work, do you honestly believe I’d get ANY work done?

Is that the point? That if women would wear this sexy blue piece, they don’t need any brains, and therefore, have no need for a head? The only part of them worth noting is whatever skin the material doesn’t cover?

I’m so stuck on the missing head and furious, that I can’t imagine being persuaded to inquire further about the women’s wear line being advertised.

So, I asked my husband to look at it and he quite logically points out that the needle headed woman is about to pop the balloon headed men’s heads. I was close, but he saw it immediately, whereas I was fussing over how unfair it was to not have a head.

What Will Naked Bodies Sell?

Not long ago someone at Cre8asiteforums started a thread about a site that sells skincare products. He was curious about a video presentation on the site where all the people were completely nude. He wondered why advertisers would want to try and sell skin care products by showing naked people? Would this work?

So, of course we all ran to see the naked people.

Turns out the video featured men and women. There were far more naked women of course, but the naked guy was quite welcome, considering I’m all for equality in naked people. One woman was pregnant. That impressed me because it’s a normal condition for some women and why hide it? There was one hysterical close up of a woman’s breasts and several pretty close shots of other parts of women’s anatomy. We weren’t sure the purpose of all that was. The whole thing was intended to make you believe that if you use their skin products, you will look as perfect and flawless as they all did.

You might even be brave enough to walk around naked to show off your healthy, glowing skin.

They were models. Of course they were flawless.

As charming as the video was, in no way was I convinced to try the product because none of the models could prove they actually used the product and none of them looked like me.

Marketing to women is not my area of expertise. But as a woman, I know when an advertising company has no idea who I am or what matters to me. For starters, there are a lot of things about me that no headless, breast escapee model could ever compete with.

If I EVER have to hide my head and throw my breasts out for a ride in public just to get noticed when I walk into a room, somebody please shoot me. As Holly says, “I lost my will to live.” Why do advertisers want to do this to women?

How is this selling products to us?


  1. May 31, 2007    

    “How is this selling products to us?”

    It’s not :) Ads are still dominated by what men think women are (or should be) interested in.

    And yet, I don’t see Victoria’s Secret losing customers over the ads that are clearly targeting men. Makes you wonder how much they’d make if they would actually target their core audience.

  2. May 31, 2007    

    Hummmm…maybe I should start a new site where women get to divulge what they’re really interested in, and not what advertisers keep driving into our heads, as if in attempt to change our wiring so they can manipulate us better.

    Funny thing is, the topic of a hot tub came up yesterday with a friend, and the ONLY thought I had was:

    “I can’t go in it. I don’t have a flat stomach.”

    I don’t get feedback or judgement from my friends or spouse. I get that painful, horrible self mutilating thought from advertising and models who, like I keep saying, don’t look like me.

    I need another blog to rant in, don’t I.

    Andrey, wanna start another magazine? LOL

  1. Small Business Information » Blog Archive » Selling to Women on May 31, 2007 at 12:36 am

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