By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter
The recent death of Suzanne Pleshette, one of my favorite actresses, jogged my memory of The Bob Newhart Show back in the 1970s. I loved the show - and I loved Ms. Pleshette's character, Emily Hartley.
But, why did I like Emily Hartley so much? For most of the series run, I was a teenager living in Hobbs, NM. Why would a young girl, living in the very flat, very wide open spaces, enjoy a sit-com about a Chicago psychologist who lives in a high-rise with his wife?
Well, aside from the fact that Bob Newhart would be hysterical reading a phone book - Emily Hartley was both fun and encouraging to watch. She seemed real. Happily married, yet independent. Smart yet low-key. Secure in her (gorgeous) femininity but most definitely not the little woman and not obsessed with her looks. She never had to 'splain' to Bob about anything. She was a supporting character but not second class.
Then there was I Love Lucy, which I grew up watching. Lucy Ricardo made me cringe, even as a child, as I watched her wahh-wahhhing and 'splainin' to Ricky. Lucy was the lead character but - as the little woman - she had to answer to Ricky, who on more than occasion put her over his knee! Happily married? Well, maybe by early 1950s television standards. I know if my Dad had ever tried that with my Mom, he would have been on the curb in about two seconds.
Lucy was wah-wahhhing way back in the '50s and Emily Hartley last appeared in 1979, nearly 30 years ago.
Yet, many companies still market to Lucy, not Emily. Housewife? She must obsess about clean floors. Married? The man must make the financial decisions. Pretty? She must be more concerned about wrinkles and shoes than loan terms. And so on.
Now, granted there are women who are empty-headed and who abdicate responsibility to "the big brave man" - but if that's your target market, you'd better be happy with flat-line revenues. And be prepared to be dissed and ignored by millions of Emily Hartleys.
Happy Friday! I think I'll pop over to Amazon and see if I can get that boxed set of The Bob Newhart Show.