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Things about advertising that drive women nuts Add to ...

Plenty of marketers, from Wendy’s to Dove to Major League Baseball and beyond, are pouring advertising dollars into trying to connect with women. They have been doing so for years, and with good reason: it has been estimated that globally, women represent $20-trillion in buying power. They buy more than half of the new cars sold (sorry, slick male-targeted car ads) and often make the purchasing decisions on behalf of their households.

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But advertisers are also wearing women’s patience thin, in a number of ways.

Ad agency Marketel commissioned a survey of 1,000 Canadian women aged 18 to 64 to find out which brands they love, what turns them off, and what they wish advertisers knew about crafting messages for them. The survey is meant to promote a new division of the agency focused on female-targeted marketing, currently launching in Canada. Here are some of the things they found:

What women hate

1) Don’t underestimate women’s intelligence. Ads that assume they know nothing about cars, sports, or finances are marketing poison.

2) Stop patronizing. Wake up and realize that women don’t enjoy being talked down to. No more pictures of women laughing while eating salad, dancing while talking about menstrual products, or getting irrationally excited about yogurt.

3) Show you care. Your products may be good, but if you are not a good corporate citizen, female consumers will take note. Testing your products on animals? Failing to pay your employees a fair wage or to hire women in leadership positions? Trashing the environment? Doing business overseas unethically? Women will take notice.

4) Women as sex objects. They see your beer ads and your cologne ads. Don’t think they don’t see them.

5) Make it funny. Stop assuming men are the only ones with a sense of humour.

6) Show moms as real people. Not all mothers drive minivans, and not all of them want the picture of sunny perfection that seems to be in every ad targeted to moms. Show the mess and imperfections. Show working moms balancing their lives. And by the way, men play an active role in the household too. Get real.

7) And speaking of moms, when it comes to their daughters, stop painting everything pink. Regular Lego is Lego for girls, too.

8) Health matters. Don’t sugarcoat your health claims. Women are trying to lead healthier lives for them and their families. Make it easier for them.

This is a broad overview, of course – what did Marketel miss?

Follow on Twitter: @susinsky

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