There was a great article that Advertising Age ran Monday in their online edition by guest columnist Bonnie Fuller that I'd like to comment on. It's titled "Election Shows This Generation of Women that Sexism is Still Alive...Tough Lessons for Millennials: Your Qualifications May be Beside the Point".
It grabbed my attention for a numbers of reasons.
- I have two teenage daughters who are considered "Millennials"
- I just got done writing a post on my blog about a recent McDonald's promotion that was targeted to Millennials
- The big buzz over the weekend was SNL's instant classic sketch staring Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton.
- And of course it's the presidential political season and this year couldn't be more interesting.
I'm going to repeat what Bonnie said in her article that is while I don't want this to be a political blog post I just can't help but comment on how I feel this political season is affecting women. I was and still am a supporter of Hillary Clinton and I couldn't believe how sexist the media treated her. Even some comments made by men that I personally know and wouldn't normally consider sexist surprised me. They seemed to love to make fun of Hillary's pantsuits. Also one of the first comments about Michelle Obama was the fact that a dress she wore on "The View" was a fashion hit. Now we haven't been hearing about what John McCain is wearing on the campaign trail or how good-looking Sarah Palin's husband is, have we?
The fact that we now have Sarah Palin in the political spotlight replacing the focus that was on Hillary brings even more discussion to how the media has been treating women this year. Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, whether you like or dislike Sarah and/or Hillary, you can't help but get upset about the different ways that they are spoken about vs. their male counterparts.
I do have to admit, however, that I was surprised to find even myself questioning how Sarah Palin could ever seriously consider running for Vice President of the United States when she's a mother of an infant child, and one with special needs no less. Who is this husband of hers that appears to be strong enough to carry the load that the mom normally carries? And if Sarah Palin is successful, can she help to change the very perception that many people have about motherhood? This would be a huge step for women. However, the big question is still "if".
So, going back to what Bonnie was saying in her article is that this may be a good thing for our daughters and younger adult women to experience, those Millennials who are now between the ages of 12 to 31. They were raised believing that a women could be president or anything they wanted to be. My daughters were brought up in a family where their mom went back to work outside the home before they saw their first birthday. They were accustomed to having both parents share the cooking, the driving, the bedtime rituals, etc.
My older daughter just left for college this year and she's really looking forward to voting for the first time. My other daughter who's still in high school isn't of age yet, but is very curious about what is going on with this political campaign. She's asked us several questions around the dinner table about this year's candidates and was very eager to learn more about this Sarah Palin that everyone was all of a sudden talking about.
I mentioned that I just wrote a post about a recent McDonald's marketing program that specifically targeted the Millennials. While I was attending PMA's Digital Marketing Summit last week in NY I got to hear McDonald's brand/agency team, Kim Lloyd, Sr. Director of McDonald's Global Marketing and Julie Channing, Sr. Account Director with AKQA, speak about The Lost Ring Promotion.
The ultimate goal of this marketing campaign was to celebrate the spirit of the Olympic Games. When developing this promotion McDonald's agency AKQA stayed focused on targeting Millennials and used this consumer profile as their strategic guideline. They define the Millennial audience as extremely peer-oriented, smart and opinionated. They also are a group that is highly comfortable broadcasting their lives on social networks. This type of self-expression helps to reflect who they are and they define their status from finding the next big thing. With this profile the team concluded that the program had to be dynamic, enable self expression, allow for different levels of engagement, facilitate peer-to-peer interaction and by all means be fun.
The do's and dont's that Bonnie included in her article about marketing to millennial women are:
- Do remember that they know the power of their pocketbooks. If they don't feel that a brand understands them or feel it is sexist in any way, "they will fight back economically with their ATM and Amex cards," said Marian Salzman of Porter Novelli. "They will go where they are appreciated."
- Do remember that a poor-quality product will be quickly found out. "Quality matters to them," said Apollo Management's Lisa Bernstein. "They'll network with friends online to find out how a product worked for other people. Their attitude is: Why should I buy your product? Why should you be so lucky to be used by me?"
- Don't talk to them like they're victims, whether it's regarding body odor or weight or anything else. "Brands have to be less parental in the way they communicate with them and be more of a friend to sell to them," said JWT's Rosemarie Ryan.
- Do keep your message down-to-earth. "They don't like 'slick' marketing," said Ann Sarnoff, president of Dow Jones Ventures. "You can't preach to them and you can't talk down to them."
So, right now while we're in the thick of this presidential political campaign it's not easy to see how it's going to go down in history. But whatever the outcome, as Bonnie has pointed out, we have clearly given our younger generation millennial women a more realistic view of what it was like for us baby boomers growing up. How we market to them today is different then how we were marketed to (Remember "I can bring home the bacon?"). But, it some ways it's still the same, just many different options now available to get the message out there (online ads, social networks, blogs, etc.).
Us baby boomer women were told by many that women couldn't have both
family and career. Now perhaps this political season has helped to
light this fire again. We'll see.