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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


The Purchasing Power of Women [Infographic]

Women continue to gain control of wealth and purchasing power. Check out the infographic below from an article by @DawnLBillings in the Business Insider.

Marketing Zeus: The Purchasing Power of Women

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.

Is Marketing To Women All Fun and Games?

Social games have become serious business. In 2011, the total market in North America increased from $1 billion to $1.4 billion, an overall growth of 35%. And of the 13 hours each week that gamers spend on social networks, they play social games for an average of 9.5 hours (study conducted by RockYou® and Interpret, LLC) That is more than one full work day.

So who is the average social gamer? According to this recent Infographic created by Flowtown it is 43-year old females.

A few other facts:

  • 54% of social gamers are women
  • 43% are college graduates
  • 43% make $50,000+ income

The study by Interpret, also revealed:

  • 42% of game players say they are more motivated by social games that offer coupons, or gift cards, or other real-world rewards
  • 24% of players claim they have clicked on an in-game ad to make a purchase.

With the top two reasons for playing social games being friendly competition and interaction, it should be no real surprise that women dominate. But it is the growing trend, the amount of time spent and willingness to click ads that make social games especially appealing to brands. SHE is not playing around.

Who Are Social Gamers?
Flowtown – Social Media Marketing Application

Auburn University Is Getting An Education in Social Media

As social networks continue to grow on a daily basis, one thing remains constant:

Expectations for transparency and honesty are on the rise.

Marketers, please keep in mind:
Apologies and/or explanations are more forgiving than cover-ups.

Auburn University and Gus Malzahn, Auburn’s Offensive Coordinator are likely going to find this out – the hard way Kristi Malzahn, wife of Gus Malzahn, is the subject of a video that went viral a few days ago. Kristi Malzahn spoke at the Summit, a Christian conference, on Oct. 6. and was promoted to speak about “her passion for Christ, through authentic and intentional living in the wonderful world of coaching football.”

The interview, we can only assume, did NOT go as planned.

The Summit originally posted the video on their site, however, it was removed a few days ago with no explanation. This has led to speculation and even more intense ridicule. And since the Summit had no qualms about posting the video in the first place, it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that there has been pressure from either the Malzahn family or the Auburn family to have it removed, as it represents both poorly.

So, what was so bad?
In her 30-minute interview, Kristi Malzahn covers the gamut from raising serious concerns with Auburn’s recruiting practices to saying that 18-22 year old kids are not the most intelligent people out there. She calls Auburn fans, “freaking nuts,” states that Gene Chizik, Auburn’s head football coach, did not want Cam Newton, refers to the National Championship as the State Championship and even begrudges Lou Holtz for his lisp.

CLEARLY, something is desperately wrong here. So, simply address it. Explain that she had a bad day, or she took the wrong medication or maybe she forgot to take her medication. Anything. The public is forgiving of mistakes – but not cover-ups or trying to sweep it under the rug. Which is exactly what someone is doing. There seems to have been an all-out effort to remove everything short of Kristi Malzahn’s vocal chords.

Within the past few days:

The Summit deleted the video from their site (above) and removed it from Vimeo:

Kristi’s Twitter account (which she touts in the video)  was deleted:

Kristi’s Facebook account was deleted:

The video on YouTube which generated more than 130,000 views in about 48 hours was deleted (which, for the record, simply looks as though they are trying to hide something):

But unfortunately, as we all know… once on the Internet, “ALWAYS” on the Internet.

That one video has now been replaced with (as of today) “seven” more which have generated an additional 80,000+ views:

Further, the top two results, when you do a Google search for “Gus Malzahn” (who has coached since 1992 and helped lead Auburn to a National Championship just last year) is about, you guessed it, Kristi Malzahn’s video. The top one being an article in Sports Illustrated on SI.com.

Marketers, please take heed.

The public relations world has changed forever. To simply “ignore” or “spin” a situation is not a viable option. 

And to attempt to keep things quiet, simply guarantees they will get louder and louder.

@aplusk Has Lost His Voice

I believe this could possibly be the biggest faux pas or sell out in social media to date.  Below is @aplusk’s first “fake” tweet.

I say “fake” because we have no way of knowing if it is really him or not. He has officially handed the management of his Twitter account over to his media team at Katalyst Media to edit and monitor his tweets from now on.

So, why did this happen?

Ashton Kutcher simply made a mistake. He tweeted based on an assumption. He assumed that Joe Paterno, former Head Coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, was fired “due to poor performance as an aging coach” and passionately tweeted:

“How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste”

I’m guessing most everyone in America is probably aware by now of the actual reason Paterno was removed. But for those who aren’t, it was the result of how he (Paterno) and the school handled sex abuse allegations against a former defensive assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.

But one mistake does not call for an even bigger one. Which is what I think Kutcher is doing. Once he realized his mistake he admitted it and apologized, which I applaud. But for some reason he further decided to hand off the control of his tweets abandoning the very essence of social media. Below is an excerpt from his explanation as to why:

A collection of over 8 million followers is not to be taken for granted. I feel responsible to deliver informed opinions and not spread gossip or rumors through my twitter feed. While I feel that running this feed myself gives me a closer relationship to my friends and fans I’ve come to realize that it has grown into more than a fun tool to communicate with people. While I will continue to express myself through @Aplusk, I’m going to turn the management of the feed over to my team at Katalyst as a secondary editorial measure, to ensure the quality of its content. My sincere apologies to anyone who I offended. It was a mistake that will not happen again.

Yet, this leaves me with even more questions:

“A collection of over 8 million followers is not to be taken for granted.
What number of followers “is” acceptable to be taken for granted?

“I’ve come to realize that it has grown into more than a fun tool to communicate with people.
If it is not a fun tool to communicate with people now, exactly what is it now?

“I’m going to turn the management of the feed over to my team at Katalyst as a secondary editorial measure.”
Seriously? You are going to be censored?

“It was a mistake that will not happen again.
It was a mistake. How or why would you promise you will never make another mistake?

I began following @aplusk in 2008 when he had approximately 30,000 followers. I didn’t follow him just because he was a celebrity. He “got it.” He understood social media. He understood its’ implications. He had fun with it. He made friends and increased his fan base.

He was an early adopter who recognized that social media is based on honesty, transparency and authenticity. But he also understood its’ power – that it gives individuals a voice. A very loud voice as he beat CNN in a race to see who could reach 1,000,000 followers first.

He used his voice to feed his passion to help children of abuse…

He used his voice to express his opinions…

He even used his voice to reveal he likes cute little animals…

Today, he used his voice to sell out.

I hope that Ashton Kutcher changes his mind. I will miss the authenticity of his tweets. For instance, his most recent post would be gripping… if I knew for sure it was him.

Marketers, keep in mind. Without transparency, social media creates suspicion and doubt – not at all what you want to do when marketing to women.

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

On A Painting It’s Art. For A Car Commercial It’s CREEPY.

CREEPY was the first word that came to mind as I watched Toyota‘s new “Family People Person” Prius commercial. Next was “disturbing” and then “I don’t get it.” (I actually do “get it” now or rather, I get what they are “trying” to say after it was explained to me in the “Making of Toyota Prius Family People Person” video.) And while I “get” the Andre Martins de Barros artful concept they were  mimicking, I still think the spot is disturbingly creepy.

Toyota and Saatchi & Saatchi are, no doubt, attempting to further exploit the success of their 2010 and 2011 “Man, Nature and Machine” spots. But much like Hollywood learns, sometimes the sequel just isn’t working. It becomes much like trying to pull your nose out of your butt… oh… wait…..

As much as I like the first ones, I detest the 2012 version. Thank goodness for the big yellow alarm clock. I know exactly when to switch the channel.

But it may just be me. I’d love to know your thoughts on the poll below.


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