Laura Prael: Common Women Advertising Faux Pas Include Using “Phallic Symbols”

Laura Prael: Common Women Advertising Faux Pas Include Using “Phallic Symbols”
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Laura Prael, director at LEP Digital speaks to B&T about how brands should (and shouldn’t!) use content marketing to better reach a female audience.

1.How have you seen the way media speaks to women shift both in your lifetime and your career?

The media we consume is a reflection of ourselves and our society. Who we see in the media influences our understanding of the world and the roles that people play in that world. Over my lifetime and career, the representation of women has improved but progress has been frustratingly sluggish. We lack diverse representation of women across all media channels, from TV and radio to digital. 

For example, if you see an ad about property portfolio management, shares or wealth management, it’s almost guaranteed to include a picture of a middle-aged caucasian man in a suit. A quick glance at above the fold of most media masthead sites will tell the same story. 

A lack of representation allows stereotypes to be the norm. This trickles down into the tone of voice we use in communications, who we cater to, and influences unconscious gender bias.

To create more inclusive, and therefore more clever and effective marketing, we must include women at all levels of the decision making process. It’s our duty to tell women’s stories more often and be bold in how we break down norms.

2.What content marketing strategies are most successful when targeting women in 2023?

Contrary to traditional marketing where brands focus on what a customer can give them, content marketing is all about what a brand can do for its customer. It’s about creating relationships through producing valuable, relevant and consistent content that seeks to improve a customer’s life. This is true whether you’re targeting men or women.

In 2023, content marketing will be a big focus for brands who want to attract loyal customers. An effective content marketing strategy starts with deeply understanding your audience beyond simple demographics. It’s about understanding your customer’s needs, desires, fear and challenges and engaging with them on an emotional level. Brands will need to be vulnerable and create content that incites emotion if they want to win hearts and minds. 

Once you know exactly who you’re speaking to, choosing the right channels is important to show that you’re in tune with your audience. Rapidly changing media platforms could mean that what was the right channel for your audience in 2022 is no longer the best option in 2023, so do your research.

3.What are some of the main faux pas you see brands make when it comes to talking to women? 

One of the most common faux pas that I see in marketing is when a brand paints women in a broad-brush approach and assumes that we all want or need the same thing. It’s a lazy way to market that relies on stereotypes to sell. 

The best way to avoid this is to engage women in the creative process and identify exactly who your audience is and their specific needs and wants. It goes without saying that women, like all people, are diverse. Marketers must consider life stage, culture, race, age, and sexual identity and other personal preferences when shaping creative. 

The other big faux pas that happens more than it should is the use of phallic symbols in creative that’s meant to appeal to women. Dare I mention the Women’s Network logo again. 

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