John Carter Goes to Mars. But Don’t Tell The Women

Below is an excerpt from an article in Newsweek & The Daily Beast titled, “Disney’s Quarter-Billion-Dollar Movie Fiasco.” In it, Chris Lee, examines marketing missteps for the not yet released movie, JOHN CARTER – originally titled, John Carter of Mars™.

“Although the character has been known as “John Carter of Mars” and was envisioned as a movie trilogy under that name, Disney marketers dropped the “of Mars” part because of industry-think holding that female movie fans are more likely to be turned off by such overtly sci-fi elements.” 

Right…… and I’m sure I won’t even notice the crater-like topography or the elusive Martians running around by the thousands, either.

According to an article by Nikki Finke in yesterday’s issue of DEADLINE:

Hollywood is in a tizzy over the early tracking which just came online this morning for Walt Disney Studios’ John Carter opening March 9th. “Not good. 2 unaided, 53 aware, 27 definitely interested, 3 first choice,” per an email from a senior exec at a rival studio.

This of course has led to plenty of finger pointing, talk of heads rolling and reportedly jobs already lost. But, the negativity has not been aimed at the movie itself.
 

The movie is actually getting rave reviews.

As a matter of fact, an early viewing for the press held in Arizona this past weekend has revealed accolades for the movie on Twitter. Disney had initially placed an embargo on tweets (SERIOUSLY?!) by the press attending the screening, but they lifted it yesterday–most likely in hopes of offsetting the lack of enthusiasm generated by poor advertising. (we can chat about the Twitter faux pas another day)
 

So, why the low tracking numbers?

Disney has revamped the marketing of the film from the name of the movie to the promotional trailer in a quest to appeal to the female audience – and failed. You might ask why they are chasing women with this sci-fi, comic book, super-hero, action-packed motion picture film in the first place. Because they need to sell lots of tickets.

And they know that women purchased 55% of movie tickets in 2009 and 49% in 2010. The also know that the number of tickets that “moms” control or influnce, increases that percentage substantially.

What they obviously do not know is how to connect with “her.”

According to Finke, another source revealed,

“It just came out. Women of all ages have flat out rejected the film.”

Of course what they mean is that women have rejected the advertising and trailer for the film. But if the trailer doesn’t sell, it means the same thing.

This is a text book case of marketers looking at women through stereotypical lenses. Which, as we have discussed, can be even more dangerous than not targeting them at all. In a botched attempt to engage women, Disney marketers have abandoned the fundamental significance of the creative concept of the movie, further alienating even the most loyal of fans.

They claim that women do not like “overtly sci-fi elements.” So, they solve this by taking the words “of Mars” out of the title? Okay, to begin with: It’s. A. Martian. Movie. Not to mention, it’s considered one of the landmarks of science fiction. Yet, they have decided to “hide” this to dumb-it-down for women? Taking “of Mars” out of the title degrades the creative genius of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the rich history of the John Carter of Mars™ series. Facts that would actually make it even more interesting to women by the way. A former Disney executive summed it up well when speaking with Lee:

“You take out ‘of Mars,’ you don’t tell where he came from? That’s what makes it unique!” a former Disney executive said. “They choose to ignore that, and the whole campaign ends up meaning nothing. It’s boiled down to something no one wants to see.”

And, what’s the deal with the trailer(s?)

Well, there are actually three trailers now, all listed and explained below. I would love for you to take a peek at them all and vote below on which one would entice YOU to go see the movie, John Carter (of Mars.)

1) The original Disney trailer released in July of 2011 

I understood it. It was engaging. The opening scene in the streets of Virginia, obviously in the early 1900’s, made the characters feel real. You discover John Carter has died. Or has he? No, he’s been transported into another time, an unknown place. Or is it? No, it’s Mars. You know, one of those little planets you learned about in grade school (even the girls.) He takes you on a journey, sometimes whimsical, often times dangerous but obviously heart-felt. A tired story of good vs. evil brought to life with imaginative characters, packed with action and adventure, love and fighting, winning and losing – all illuminated with spectacular special effects.

2) The new Disney trailer released in December, 2011

 This is the stripped down version of the original trailer that shows a lot and says very little. One can only assume so women wouldn’t know they were going to a sci-fi movie.

3) The trailer created by a fan posted February 2012

This trailer is fan-made in hopes of helping Disney sell the movie. It was tweeted by Andrew Stanton, John Carter’s Director and is now my personal favorite.

 

My advice to marketers? Take heed.

Transparency and authenticity are a must when marketing to women. To to dumb-it-down or to attempt  to trick her will most likely backfire in more ways than one.

 

My advice to Disney? Change the trailer. Today.

To get to Mars just might require taking a step back to go by way of Venus.

Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising,Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email


When Marketing to Women, Don’t Be A Man: Ask For Directions

To know that brands must target women is great. But can you still mess up? Absolutely.

Dawn Billings, founder of The Heart Link Women’s Network, polled women small business professionals from three countries to find mistakes made by businesses when marketing to women. We have actually discussed most all of these at one time or another, but the survey further validates and substantiates that simply knowing women are your market could be more dangerous if you don’t take the extra steps to understand them.

“Women work very hard. They wear many hats. Often they are so busy being responsible and reliable they forget to have fun. Anything that you can offer women to help them add fun back into their lives can be a very valuable offering.” – Dawn Billings

According to the results of the survey, below are six mistakes businesses need to avoid when marketing to women:

  1. Do not fail to market directly to women.
  2. Do not think women think the same as men.
  3. Do not attempt to pigeon-hole women by age.
  4. Do not underestimate the power of the more mature boomer woman.
  5. Do not ignore the time women spend online connecting with, and influencing their networks.
  6. Do not forget the FUN.

So, let’s talk about them a little further.

1. Do not fail to market directly to women.

“Women feel they are their own market.” – Dawn Billings

Women want you to speak to them directly. But don’t forget. You must take the time to understand them. Otherwise, you run the risk of approaching them with stereotypical messages that could do more harm than good. Dell Computers found this out the hard way with the launch of “Della” a website targeting the “not quite as bright as the male” female.  Or at least that is how it was interpreted. The site, months in the making, was taken down after just three days due to the backlash.

2. Remember that women think differently than men.

For one thing, it’s scientific. We talk about it more here, but essentially women’s frontal lobe, the area in the brain responsible for problem-solving and decision-making, is larger. This results in them to putting more time and effort into a decision or problem solving process. (aka, taking a long time) Another example is found in their “larger” limbic cortex, the area which is responsible for regulating emotion. Women have more connections to the emotional centers of their brain. (aka, leading with their emotions)

Understanding the differences in men and women, opens up for better communication and messaging and ultimately sales. Refusing to see the differences leads to offensive or even worse messages that do not resonate at all with the female prospect.

3. Do not attempt to pigeon-hole women by age.

Demographics are dead. We can no longer look at them as by age but instead must consider their lifestage. The female is different than she was 10 years ago, they are different from each other and they change pending where they are in life.

A 40-year old female might have a toddler at home, a child in college or may have never married or had children at all. What connects with the situation of the one with a toddler has little chance of speaking adequately with the needs of the other two.

4. Do not underestimate the power of the more mature boomer woman.

Female boomers feel they have been dropped completely off the marketer’s or brand’s radar. They were vigorously pursued for so long, and yet at 55, they feel abandoned.  Or worse, they feel targeted solely for retirement homes and adult diapers.

The reality is, they have more money than anyone, they control the spending and they have a LOT of living left to do.

As Billings points out, research shows:

  • Every fifth adult in the U.S. today is a female over 50.
  • The 50+ population will grow by 70 percent over the next 15 years.
  • Women comprise the majority of the 80 million Boomers now working their way through society and the consumer marketplace. They have established careers and money to spend on themselves, their families and their causes, as well as the ability to influence the majority of their households’ purchasing decisions.
  • Disposable incomes are highest among women aged 45-54.
  • In the next decade, women will control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S.
  • The fastest growing demographic segment on Facebook is women over 55, growing 175 percent in the past six months.
  • Not only will Boomer women continue to earn income by working, they’ll also manage inheritance windfalls from their parents as well as their husbands, who they will outlive by 6-9 years on average. (Sad, but true.)
  • The 6.7 million companies owned by women account for 30 percent of all privately-owned U.S. small business, skewing heavily towards women 35-5

5. Do not ignore the time women spend online connecting with, and influencing their networks.

Women rule the Internet. Comscore says women are the majority of users of social networking sites and spend 30% more time on these sites than men. On Facebook alone:

  1. Women are not only the majority of its users, but drive 62% of activity in terms of messages, updates and comments, and 71% of the daily fan activity.
  2. Women have 8% more Facebook friends on average than men, and spend more time on the site.
  3. Women played a key role in the early days by adopting three core activities—posting to walls, adding photos and joining groups—at a much higher rate than males.

Women are searching what they want and need on the Internet and they are now finding affirmation or reasons not to buy within their networks. That is where you can find her, get to know her and let her get to know you.

6. Do not forget the FUN.

And before she can have fun, she has to find time. According to Women Want More, by Michael Silverstein and Kate Sayre,

“Above all, women want “agents of leverage” – ways to find time, save time, free up time. And when women find a product or service that truly meets those needs, they can become brand apostles.”

But beware, don’t tell her she “deserves it.” According to Marti Barletta, author of “Marketing to Women” and CEO of TrendSight Group, “The optimistic message [from marketers], all the ‘You deserve it’ stuff, is completely wrong right now. What is right is saying, ‘You’re smart. You can handle this. You can make the right decisions, and here’s how we can help.’” (via Advertising Age)

So, when marketing to women, don’t be a man. Ask for directions.

Sheconomy is Speaking at the 2011 MIMA Summit

I am honored to have been asked to be a featured speaker at the 2011 Annual MIMA Summit. The theme is Celebrating the Digital Decade with a focus on consumer insights. Keynote speakers are Avinash Kaushik, the analytics evangelist for Google and Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine. A complete line up of speakers can be found here.

I will be presenting on the power of the female consumer in a session titled: Why and How to Effectively Market to Women in Today’s Economic Climate. Are there any topics or questions you feel should be addressed? Also, I would love to know who’s planning to be there!


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Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

Are Aunts the New Mom?

Although not mentioned in this iVillage article, which is a preview of next weeks’ coverage on NBC’s report about women’s buying power, I still remain hopeful that they plan to address one of the most overused stereotypes about women. Many male marketers assume that all women are moms. However, while all moms are women, not all women are moms. And there is no one more in tune to that than Melanie Notkin, CEO and founder of the very successful online community, Savvyauntie.com.

I met my friend Melanie on Twitter nearly a year ago and since then she’s been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, More Magazine, NBC, CBS and is a regular on FOX News Strategy Room.

I asked if she would enlighten my readers as a guest blogger and she kindly agreed. So, please read on as she provides incredibly valuable insight into an area where so many male marketers are  missing a huge opportunity.

Guest Blogger: Melanie Notkin, Savvyauntie.commelanie-notkin_founder-and-ceo_savvy-auntie

I’m not a mom. This fact seems inconsequential to most, until you look at many of my friends. They’re not moms either. And neither are their friends. In fact, nearly 50% of American women are not mothers.

So why are marketers so in love with Mom?

If you watch commercials for anything from laundry detergent to holiday gifting, it generally stars “mom.” Now it’s true that moms are part of the most influential segment of the economy – the segment that controls about 85% of household purchases. But non-moms do laundry too. And we also buy gifts. And we travel. We buy cars. We’re homeowners. In fact, we buy just about everything moms do, except for breast pumps. And mom jeans.

It’s not the moms who control and influence 85% of household purchases. It’s women as a whole. And in my household, I control 100% of the purchase decisions.

PANK is the new pink!
I’ve dubbed the other half of women who are not mothers, PANKs: Professional Aunts No Kids. We’re the consumers marketers should be focusing on because we have the time, money and influence they are looking for.

The 2006 US Census Report on Fertility reported that 45.1% of women through age 44 do not have kids. And that number has been steadily growing over the last couple of decades. It’s pretty remarkable. And when you take an even closer look at this segment, some other interesting data bubbles up.

Key PANK statistics:
The 2006 Census data states that even fewer women are having children than in 2004 – the date of the previous fertility report.  The data from a similar study done in 2004 stated that 44.6% of women did not have kids. This 2006 study reports that 45.1% did not have children, up 0.5% over those two years.

The big highlight of the report is shocking: “20 percent of women 40 to 44 were childless in 2006, twice as high as the level 30 years earlier.”

The Fertility Reports do not include data on women ‘post’ fertility who are less likely to ever have children – women 45 and over. That’s how we get to the “nearly 50%” number. In fact, it may be more.

Here’s the “women without children” Census data, broken down by age range:

  • 15 to 19 years 93.3%
  • 20 to 24 years 68.6%
  • 25 to 29 years 45.6%
  • 30 to 34 years 26.2%
  • 35 to 39 years 18.9%
  • 40 to 44 years 20.4%

Remove the teens from the equation, and 36% of women 20 – 44 don’t have kids. Again, this data does not include women 45+.  We are reluctant to exclude the teens because teens have huge spending clout and are very likely to indulge their little nieces and nephews, their little cousins, and their friends’ kids – and certainly themselves! And they are looking for ways to connect with the children in their lives, just like older women are. Just because they are less likely to have kids, doesn’t mean they are less likely to be loving aunts by relation, aunts by choice and godmothers to a child in their life.

Fewer women are having children. By choice. Not by choice. Some are childless. Some are childfree. Some are waiting. Some are undecided. Some are trying. Some are too young. Some feel too old. Some are too old. Some are gay and therefore we might assume less likely to have their own kids. Whatever the case, in the end, 45.1% of women 15-44, don’t have kids.

PANKs are Savvy Aunties.
In 2008, I responded by giving PANKs a community of our own:  SavvyAuntie.com, the first online community for cool aunts, great aunts, godmothers and all women who love kids.  Twenty-three minutes after launch, I received an email from the media buyers for Hasbro. Two hours later, Sephora contacted me. Then came Warner Brothers, Disney, Turner’s TNT Network, PBS Sprout, BareNecessities.com, Beyondtherack.com, Scholastic and many more. After all, when it comes to products and services that enable Savvy Aunties to make their nieces and nephews happy as can be, aunts want to know about them. Plus, without kids of their own, aunts have more discretionary income and time than most moms. That’s why they are more likely to indulge themselves and the children in their lives.

Still, the overwhelming majority of marketing messages are focused on Mom and to Mom. It’s time marketers began focusing on PANKs. We’re powerful and we’re influential. And we’re growing year after year.

If only my mom were here to see it…

Thanks, Melanie. Well said!!

Melanie Notkin is a proud aunt and the Founder and CEO, SavvyAuntie.com. She’s been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, More Magazine, NBC, CBS and is a regular on FOX News Strategy Room. She can be reached at Twitter.com/SavvyAuntie.

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Melanie Notkin is a pround aunt and the Founder and CEO, SavvyAuntie.com. She’s been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, More Magazine, NBC, CBS and is a regular on FOX News Strategy Room. She can be reached at Twitter.com/SavvyAuntie.

Is ATT Missing an Opportunity for an Alley-Oop?

I love this AT&T TV commercial! I have no idea what the media buy is, but I know that I have only seen it when I am watching sports. I am assuming that’s because of the focus on Tyler Hansbrough, the former North Carolina basketball hero who was recently drafted into the NBA by the Indiana Pacers. But this spot is strong even if you don’t know Continue reading

Male Marketers, Don’t Tell a Woman She Needs More Time… She Already KNOWS That.

Women Want MoreI love this book from Michael Silverstein and Kate Sayre. It’s titled Women Want More: How to Capture Your Share of the World’s Largest, Fastest-Growing Market. But I must warn you to be careful not to read it from a male perspective.

I have highlighted some of the key findings below, and you can read more at The Harvard Business Review as well as an overview provided by the authors, or you can just buy the book.

In summary, the book overwhelmingly substantiates the massive spending power of women as well as reveals how companies continue to fall short in meeting the needs of these women through their product designs and the marketing messages of their products. But another point that seems to be driven home repeatedly is how women want more “time.”

According to Women Want More, “Above all, women want “agents of leverage” – ways to find time, save time, free up time. And when women find a product or service that truly meets those needs, they can become brand apostles.”

Essentially, women are more stressed out, have less time than ever with overlapping priorities, yet they still don’t want to give anything up. Companies that find ways to truly leverage her time, find solutions and become her supporter will be the winners.

But Be Wary
Because so much attention has been placed on “time” [and rightfully so], I suggest you be very careful to resist the inevitable temptation to remind the female market that she has no time in your advertising messages. Taken literally, [and they are already doing it] companies tend to focus on the problem and not the solution.

So, don’t tell her she doesn’t have enough time.
She already KNOWS that.

Don’t portray her as perplexed, anxious and frazzled.
You are actually implying she is presently not doing a good job.

And please don’t tell her she can or deserves to spend more time with her kids.
She feels guilty enough as it is.

Don’t continue to hammer on the problem. Everyone will be doing that. You need to offer time-saving “solutions.” You will need to think like a woman.

Leslie Wexner, founder and chairman of Limited Brands, and one of the most successful marketers to women, says, “You can’t sell to women like they are men wearing skirts.”

Connect with her emotionally. Understand her needs. Be empathetic. Become her partner.

Noted in the book, women need the following, so remember don’t tell her what she already knows:

  • Time – give it to her
  • Love – ask how she feels
  • Family – support her
  • Relationships – commit to her
  • Community – engage her

So, where do you start?
According to Marti Barletta, author of “Marketing to Women” and CEO of TrendSight Group, “The optimistic message [from marketers], all the ‘You deserve it’ stuff, is completely wrong right now. What is right is saying, ‘You’re smart. You can handle this. You can make the right decisions, and here’s how we can help.'” (via Advertising Age)

And, as I was quoted in Marketing Week, “Brands need to communicate that they’re on women’s side.”

Based on the few  findings below from Women Want More: How to Capture Your Share of the World’s Largest, Fastest-Growing Market, this book is a MUST read for anyone serious about effectively connecting with the female market. But BEWARE: do not implement the findings like a man wearing a skirt.

  • Women now drive the economy representing the largest market opportunity in the world.
  • As this recession abates, women not only will represent one of the largest market opportunities in our lifetimes but will also be an important force in spurring a recovery and generating new prosperity. The rewards for companies that do understand what women want and are able to serve them well will be enormous.
  • Globally, women control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending and have $13 trillion in total yearly earnings. In five years these numbers are expected to be $25 trillion and $18 trillion respectively.
  • Yet despite all this spending power, women feel undervalued and misunderstood. They are pressed for time and stressed out by products and services that don’t meet their needs.
  • Although it would be foolish to ignore or underestimate the female consumer many companies do – even those that are confident they have a winning strategy when it comes to women.
  • They have too many demands on their time and constantly juggle conflicting priorities—work, home, and family.
  • Few companies have responded to their need for time-saving solutions or for products and services designed specifically for them.
  • Three-quarters of the people who have lost jobs in the current recession are men.
  • The number of working women in the United States is about to surpass the number of working men.
  • Many companies continue to market mostly to men and fail to explore how they might meet women’s needs.
  • Women feel vastly underserved. Despite the remarkable strides in market power and social position that they have made in the past century, they still appear to be undervalued in the marketplace and underestimated in the workplace.
  • Companies that can offer tailored products and services – going beyond “make it pink” – will be positioned to win when the economy begins to recover.

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Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

Men, Do You Have Questions About Marketing To Women?

m2w_header_logo_home2Now is the time to ask. I am in Chicago and for the next 2 days will be listening to speakers or attending workshops with some of the top leaders and researchers in the world of marketing to women. They will be discussing the topics listed below. I plan to tweet during the convention, and if you have any specific questions please feel free to send them to me @sheconomy or follow hashtag #m2w for the most updated info.

  • What Women Want in the Digital Age
  • How Marketers Can Harness the Power of Digital Influencers
  • Leveraging Women as Consumer Advocates
  • Are You Hearing What She’s Not Telling You?
  • Building a Successful Online Community with Women
  • Women Get Green & Clean
  • The Next Digital Frontier-From Impressions to Relationships
  • New Research on Marketing to Women in the Recession
  • The Changing Face of the American Female Consumer
  • Cracking the Code For Effective Social Media Marketing to Women
  • Why “Return on Women” (ROW) Should Be Your #1 Recession Strategy
  • Finding Generation O: The Evolution of Oxygen
  • The Power of Cause Branding
  • Recessionista Report: Women Behaving Smartly
  • Creative and New Ways to Reach Women

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Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email