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"So, You're A Wife!"

By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter

Good_wife I've been an advisor for the TVC equity capital symposium for several years now (teams assist entrepeneurs in presenting to investors).  I've done it so often, I pretty much know everyone; only the presenters change. And, I have a personal prejudice against name tags (You can seldom really read them anyway.) So, yesterday I didn't even pick up mine. 

At lunch, a fellow sat down next to me and we did the usual introductions. My friend Jill, an attorney, did have a name did the fellow (although I couldn't read it ;).  As I saw him looking at my chest (now, now...not that low), I said something like, "Oops, I don't have a badge."  His smiling reply?  "So, you're a wife!"

Before we all (virtually) pound the poor guy...

Turns out he does most of the food shopping and cooking at his house and he seems a pretty nice man.  He was simply making an assumption, based on past experience and available information. Something we all do, with varying degrees of success. 

For example, Verizon recently announced a smartphone "designed for the ladies" named (aargggh) Bliss.  At least it's not pink, but it comes pre-loaded with apps for calorie counting and shopping (and there are - be still my heart - accessories!)   Let the Web flames begin! I think the issue is summed up nicely by the Slash Gear headline, Phones for Women: Is Verizon’s Bliss misogynistic or just lazy?

Images Having worked for and with Verizon, I suggest it's a bit of the former and a lot of the latter.  Phone companies ain't exactly on the cutting edge of marketing.  I also suspect that women's response to this skew along age lines.  Younger women didn't have to fight the battles of us oldsters (the ad at right was perfectly fine, back then...and Ricky regularly threatened to spank Lucy)  - so they often take such lazy marketing in stride. What's the big deal?  And, you know, they're right.  It's not such a big deal, in and of itself.  However, the whole thing reeks of outdated assumptions and patronization.  That IS a big deal. 

Seriously? It's 2011, guys.  "Ricky, you've got some 'splainin' to do!" '

P.S. For all I know, the clueless guy at lunch was assuming I was Jill's wife, and his spouse could be a man...which changes the whole story, doesn't it? :)


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On the subject of Verizon and phones designed with certain genders in mind, last year when I was choosing my first Smartphone, I deliberately skipped the Verizon Droid models because I couldn't stand the "Droid Does" ads which were aimed at men, and calling iPhones sissy girly phones. I went with a BlackBerry instead--until next year when I can upgrade to a Verizon iPhone. I think I love Apple products so much because they are marketed to men and women equally.


At least "wives" have higher research value than husbands. I don't see AOL putting out a paper on how to advertise to Dads.

Mary Schmidt

Excellent point, Yvonne. He more likely would have assumed the man was a poobah, too important to wear a plebian name tag. Just saying...:)

Yvonne DiVita

Interesting, Mary. As a former 'wife' - I bristle at the attitude that says a 'wife' doesn't deserve a nametag, too. I was routinely annoyed to discover that because I was a wife and stay-at-home Mom, I was invisible. I venture to say if that gentleman had sat next to a man without a name tag, he wouldn't have said, "So, you're a husband." Just saying...

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