“If You Don’t Jump On The Lady Bus Your Brand Will Be History!”

Embargoed to 0001 Friday November 27 
Undated file handout photo from 'Dove' of model from their  advertising campaign that used

Nancy Hromin is on the ground at Cannes 2015 and just witnessed Aussie Bec Brideson’s (pictured below) presentation at the Glass Awards which recognise gender neutrality and the positive portrayal of women in advertising and had no Australian agency shortlisted. Here’s Hromin’s view of the event…

Nancy Hromin
Posted by Nancy Hromin

Bec Brideson launched Venus Comms back in 2004 when, as one of the three per cent of female creative directors on earth, she saw a great gap in agencies with the ability to ‘get’ women. Fast-forward 10 years and progress has been slow.


The key messages of her Cannes talk included:

  1. Marketing to women is too often confused with sexism.
  2. There are, what she coins, “two buckets”. One bucket is the burning social issues of today – same sex marriage, gun control, refugees, and gender issues such as pay gaps, women on boards and so on. These social issues are important and relevant but should not be confused with the female economy, which is the second bucket.
  3. The female economy is the fastest growing consumer group in the world.
  4. Just like mobile technology (as an example) is a key focus at this festival, so too is the economic opportunity presented by women. And the data is glaringly obvious.

Drawing on her extensive reading and research including Faith Popcorn’s seminal book The 8 truths of marketing to women, Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG’s) research in 2009 and 2014 spanning 40 countries and 12,000 women that found 91 per cent of advertisers don’t understand women or women’s needs. A sobering statistic.

Brideson delivered a blistering and powerful presentation and her speech is peppered with what is clearly her passion and frustration in equal measures.

“Apart from chain saws and beers, I am not actually sure what you fellas are buying,” she said.

Brideson continued to assert that the industry continues to deliver advertising and communication built on an outdated planning model. The reference to sexism being in a separate bucket was woven throughout her impassioned talk and a final plea to “stop confusing sexism with the female economy. Men and Women are different. Not better, not worse. Just different.”

Interestingly, Brideson asserts that other sectors “get it”. Media gets it, Magazines gets it, publishers get it, the advertising industry – you don’t get it.

So why doesn’t Adland “get it”?

Brideson partly attributes segmentation theory (demographics, behavioural, psychologically and attitudinal), which does not include gender. Additionally, generalist-marketing approach is failing to persuade women.

It seems so simple, so why does the industry stare blankly at the data when this is raised? Or morphs feminist social issues with the pure economics? Brideson’s answer – denial.

Just like publishers were in denial about Google, just like the record industry was in denial about music streaming, just like watch manufacturers were in denial about the Apple Watch, so too the advertising industry is in denial about the female economy. And its about to reach tipping point.

So get on that lady bus fellas.

Nancy Hromin is Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for B&T and can be reached at nancy@bandt.com.au