Although unconnected, three recent stories we read all point to how various companies approach marketing to the female consumer in different ways:
This morning Vulture is reporting that Sony is anxious over how poorly THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO movie is tracking with female moviegoers — although the books’ readership is mostly female:
While a Vintage spokesman, Russell Perreault, said that the imprint could not furnish Vulture with demographic data about what percent of the Dragon Tattoo readership was female, he did note that on the publishing house’s official Dragon Tattoo Facebook page, 71% of the 469,000 fans were women. He also noted that on Knopf’s official Stieg Larsson Facebook author fan page, some 65 percent of the author’s 291,000 fans of the author were female.
It’s no secret that women read mysteries—they also love playing those mystery video games and watch THE PROFILER. And yet they didn’t want to see a movie whose first teaser image was this? I’m shocked.
(Hint: that star was not in the original.) Or as the article puts it:
A third marketing insider put the film’s lack of success with connecting to its female fans this way: “I am surprised by those female [tracking] numbers, but I am not surprised that women don’t want to see an ultra-violent David Fincher movie about women being tortured and raped. I think women see these trailers and are being scared shitless away from it.”
Although we here at Stately Beat Manor love David Fincher — how awesome was that Karen O Immigrant Song trailer which actually opens the movie? — are you really surprised that the guy who helped remove women from the Facebook story might not have making a project woman-friendly as one of his top 10 objectives? Or that making a movie about a tough heroine who lives life by her own rules despite being treated as a sex object by people around her and then depicting her as a sex object in just about every promo for the movie might send a conflicting message? Shock.
Looking at the DRAGON TATTOO advertising, I doubt anyone at Sony ever really thought about marketing their movie to women, considering that demographic a given.
For the opposite side of Sweden, here’s the story of how Ikea actually got its sales in the US to rise last year. It wasn’t easy since they didn’t open any more stores in the US. The challenge: to get consumer to buy more big-ticket items and fewer $2 Bygels. Thus Ikea’s agencies used extensive psychological testing to find that women (primary buyers of furniture and accessories) thought of Ikea furniture as something to outgrow. Media agency MEC and ad agency Ogilvy & Mather developed a campaign that showed Ikea rooms as environments where things happened and people hung out harmoniously to suggest that buying more Ikea furniture would make your family get along better.
“TV ads showcased IKEA’s range of styles and demonstrated how, with a bit of negotiation, the perfect room can come together in harmony between two people. Print focused on one key style and showed people interacting with each other within that room, giving people the chance to imagine their own family life there. Online display ads highlighted big ticket items, like sofas, while rich media and video units let the user engage to open up a full page living room ‘showroom’ where they could browse products, download a brochure and find their nearest store.”
“MEC deployed editorial integrations that allowed audiences to see IKEA’s stylish and quality products in situations, such as building IKEA furniture into the storyline of HGTV’s hit show Dear Genevieve. TV and magazine editorial integrations lent credibility through association with home and kitchen professionals and celebrities.”
The result? Sales rose 7.4% (the target was 5% and the industry average was barely 1%); living room sales grew 9%, kitchens 12%.
We find this story notable for several reasons. #1 is fucking creepy how the top agencies use our own psychology to buy more shit. #2 so this is why Ikea catalogs increasingly show DIOKs hanging out in their cluttered yet spotless living rooms? #3 is that why almost everything at Beat HQ (including the desk this is being typed on) is from Ikea? Sigh.
Our third test case involves something NOT done, and yes it’s DC comics again. Our old pal Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass looks at promo for the New 52 and points out that despite some talk about marketing books like SUPERGIRL to the “Twilight” demo, not one DC preview has been given to a female-targeted blog, not even a nerd one like The Mary Sue.
Here’s some telling information, when DC was parsing out the exclusives for their new 52, a task that falls under the less expensive budget of PR rather than advertising, did they offer up previews to any female focused media outlets? They obviously had a segmented strategy offering exclusive previews to publications Maxim, Ebony and Out magazine but they skipped the female demographic. But did they target the many sites that women clearly frequent? Did they target the many sites that female geeks/comic readers frequent? No, they didn’t. Even with them explicitly stating in their publicity for “Supergirl” they wanted to focus on the female YA audience that is consuming “Hunger Games” they still chose to give that story to USA Today. It baffling to me when Oprah.com, one of the broadest female-focused outlets, proactively reaches out to my site which is focused on girls and comics (Girls Love Superheroes) to feature content and yet DC didn’t pitch Batgirl, Supergirl, Batwoman or Birds of Prey to a site like Jezebel, Marie Clare or to a site catering to the female geek like the Mary Sue or Geek Mom (which writes about comics all the time and yet their male counterpart Geek Dad was given two previews by DC).
As long as we’re picking on the DC Woman Problem again, here’s a piece we long ago bookmarked, Sonia Harris’s look at DC heroines entitled “Ms. New 52 and Her Powerful PMS”:
DC’s solo, female superhero titles depict women who are firmly focused on emotions, family, home, and sex. These women are so distracted by these things, that they’re barely able to think about their jobs as superheroes. It is disappointing to read so many women characters depicted this way, consistently unprofessional and erratic, and it is hard to imagine a male character ever worrying about any of these things to this level.
To be fair, a lot of DC male heroes are blithering idiots, also. In fact, of the DC books we read, it seems to be a common characteristic for the heroes to faff about and get all pissy about everything—everyone has PMS in the DCU.
Is there a net takeaway from these three stories? Sort of, but it’s so obvious it barely needs repeating: If you want people to give you their money, you need to figure out what they like first. That’s job #1 for marketing.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.