Are Adverts That Target Women Actually Putting Female Buyers Off?

Hit the right demographic with advertising

Are Adverts That Target Women Actually Putting Female Buyers Off?

Many advertisers have come unstuck over the years by aiming their adverts specifically at the female demographic but not quite hitting the target. It seems that there’s a fine line between attracting buyers and offending them when it comes to targeted advertising of this nature. 

There are plenty of examples of marketing communication and consumer products aimed at male audiences that are packed with sexism and misogyny, even in this day and age, but it’s not just those aiming their products at men who are guilty of this. Trying to target women can often do more harm than good, reducing femininity to obvious tropes and schemes while reinforcing outdated stereotypes and external viewpoints. 

Pritt Stick’s ‘Just 4 Girls’ campaign from 2014 is the perfect example. The glue company wanted to attract more female buyers. Their solution? To make Pritt Stick glue pink and badge it as ‘Just 4 Girls.’ Needless to say, women derided the move on social media and took the company to task for its outdated assumptions, while Let Toys Be Toys even chose the campaign for one of its annual Silliness Awards. The problem with aiming an advertising campaign at the female half of the population is that within that demographic, there is incredible diversity. How, then, do advertisers imagine that they can craft something that will appeal to all women, without causing offence to some of those they’re trying to target? 

It can be done, it just takes some careful thought and a bit of imagination – Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign is a leading example. The way that we collectively think about women’s role in society is changing. Areas that were once dominated by men are rapidly becoming more level playing fields. We’ve not arrived at true equality yet, but we are at least well on the way. 

Take the esports and gaming industry. Almost 50% of global gamers are now women and the share of female pro-gamers is on the up. The world’s top-earning female pro-gamer, Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn, has netted some $300,000 as a result of her gaming prowess. As the makeup of those who play video games has changed, so too have many of the games themselves. Casino games are a good example of this, with many becoming more gender-neutral in order to hold wider appeal. A look at the range of VideoSlots casino games on offer demonstrates a wide mix of game styles and themes, holding appeal for players of any gender. 

In both the esports and the casino sector, women are becoming equal to men in terms of their participation, just as they are in the physical sports industry. It’s no longer about giving a particular sport an entirely female focus, but instead about seeing it as something in which anyone can participate. 

And it’s the same with advertising. Companies looking to reach female audiences need to stop trying so hard to make their campaigns specifically female-friendly. Could borrowing from the example of the video gaming industry and opting for gender neutrality instead be the key to success? 

Poppy Watt