Call it a rant. Call it a manifesto. Maybe what I’m about to say is something that many of us ad-people believe, but hey. Here goes nuthin’.

After 5 years in advertising and 30 years of being a female, I have come to a few conclusions about how advertising can better speak to women.

When I first entered this business, I worked on unisex-type products. A website. Cars. A restaurant. A soft drink. Etc. I never thought I’d have to work on a “chick product,” and honestly, didn’t really want to. I didn’t even have many girl-friends until later in college. I was never a tomboy, but I just had lots of guy friends. I was that girl at the mall who wanted to hit Best Buy instead of Banana Republic. I didn’t dig the cattiness and drama of teenage girldom. So, I waited it out.

Since I was never too great at chatting it up with other gals (I never had a celebrity crush, had my own uninfluenced sense of fashion, and didn’t really think so-and-so’s baby was very cute), I really didn’t want to work on women’s products in advertising.

Then I worked on a couple of fitness brands geared towards women. And a couple packaged goods geared towards moms. Frankly, I cringed at each assignment. In my mind, advertising to women meant doing ads like this:

(By the way… why are they eating YOGURT at a WEDDING?)

But, I learned a lot working on women’s brands. If there’s any ONE piece of advice that you take from these ramblings, walk away with this: Stop talking to women as though they’re women.

When you write to women, write to people — who just happen to be women. It’s that simple.

We don’t just laugh at jokes about men and bad clothes.

We don’t all go craaazy for puppies, weddings, gossip, romantic comedies, and strawberry daiquiris (mmm… daiquiris…)

Many of us like bacon and fart jokes and politics and sports.

Even the girly-girls.

Even the sentimental new moms.

Even the spoiled divas.

Yes, fart jokes.

Knowing that some products can’t avoid being related to things that are super feminine and girly (feminine products, cosmetics, etc), some brands have done a great job of poking fun at stereotypes. I like these:

But — and if you’re still reading this, mazel tov — here’s a fun test:

Are you a dude? Did you laugh at those ads?

Guess what. So did I.

And most women of the women I know did too.

And we’re the ones who are supposed to buy those products.

I say, now that we’ve addressed all the crappy female stereotypes and made fun of them, let’s just move on. Let’s just write some ads that stop saying “hey – you’re a woman, so you’ll laugh at this” and just write ads that say “hey — you’ll laugh at this.”

Personally, I’d love to see some more physical humor in female-targeted ads. And yes. Maybe even a fart joke.

Yeah. I said it. You don’t see many “mad propz” these days, but this one is well-deserved.

Back in 2005, when I started at BBDO NY, there was this writer-guy, Alec Brownstein, who sat around the corner from me. While being a junior at BBDO was somewhat intimidating, knowing guys like Alec made it a lot less so. He was always ready to chat it up and have a laugh. We both worked on Pizza Hut, but for me — it was the occasional assignment. This guy was doing ALL Pizza Hut. And he still was cool and smiling and shit. (I will always admire that. I can make lemonade out of lemons, but I can only pretend for so long. At some point, everyone cracks and says  ‘hey, this isn’t lemonade! This is crappy lemon-water. Fuck this.’)

Anyway, Alec went to work for Maxim. Then Publicis. It was a crazy few years, but we stayed in touch on and off. And then… he got a job at Y&R. An AWESOME job — but even more awesome about it — the way he scored it.

Click here to watch an interview with Alec and his new boss on Good Morning America.

Not only did he score a killer gig, he scored some big awards. Like One Show pencils.

Anyway, really proud. Alec isn’t just a smart dude, he’s a good dude.

Way to go.

It’s all Her Fault.

April 14, 2010

Ok. Sorry I have been MIA for the past week. Sort of an interesting story…

For years, I’ve had the urge to do some kind of animal-related volunteer work. When I lived in NYC, I did a dog-walk at BARC in Brooklyn. (A great way to spend an afternoon and help a pooch in need stretch his or her little legs).

I’ve also considered adopting a second dog in addition to my French Bulldog, Hildy. However, she’s the kind of dog who will run around a dog park from human to human, ignoring all the other dogs. I wasn’t sure if a second dog was a good idea or not.

Cut to this past Sunday. Every year, Dallas holds an event at the Cotton Bowl called the Dallas Dog Bowl. They essentially turn the field of the Cotton Bowl into a giant, off-leash dog park with lots of vendors. It’s a lot of fun. Here are a couple pictures a photog shot of Hildy running amok:

Anyway, on our way in, I noticed a few rescue organizations set up with lots of cages and tents. I wanted to stop and look, but I decided to hold off till later.

On our way out, Hildy and I perused the crates and found the SWEETEST little Basenji mix named Yoda (note the ears).  She was so scared, so sweet, and only 3 mos old. One look at her sad little eyes and I knew I couldn’t leave her there. Especially since the organization was “desperate for fosters!” Apparently, they’d pretty much run out of homes to place these dogs in.

So I filled out a two-page application, got the thumbs up on the puppy from a friend who swung by, and I carried the puppy all the way to my car. She still didn’t know how to walk on a leash. In a matter of minutes, I was a foster mom.

It’s been a hectic week, but it looks like a good friend of mine will be adopting her on Friday! Which is great — Hildy has had a lot of fun playing with the puppy, and now they can remain friends. I’ve been calling her Rhoda (a bit more feminine than Yoda) and it looks like her name will become Roxy soon).

How does this story relate to the whole “from the front lines of the advertising industry” thing? Well… I’ll tell ya. For the past few years, I have not had time to volunteer. Advertising is a very chaotic, self-absorbing business by nature. And the idea of taking time out to just donate to a cause might seem somewhat impossible. I mean, sure — I wrote a couple checks to the SPCA last year — and it helps. And working on a pro-bono PSA campaign is quite nice. However, I’ve always felt that physically volunteering is so much more rewarding.

It’s one thing to donate money for puppy food. It’s another thing to help potty-train and give some love to an abandoned puppy… so that it can become a good pet for someone’s family, and not just another statistic.

I really want to encourage all of you busy ad folks out there to volunteer. Fostering Yoda/Rhoda/Roxy was a gamble and a bit time-consuming, but I was able to integrate it into my own life. My own schedule.

And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I’m baaaaaack.

April 7, 2010

Ok. So, over a year later… I’m finally back to the blog. I’m sure most of you have been checking back daily for the past 14 mos, weeping into your half-empty cups of coffee, wondering “why is there no copywronging for me to read today? And today? And today? And today?…”

Well, it took this little story from the Huffington Post to get me pick up my broken pencil.

So, the French version of Marie Claire has come out with a special edition with absolutely NO retouching. Not a single stroke of an airbrush in the whole publication (ads excluded, I’m sure).

And this is a huge frigging deal.

::Dramatic Pause::

WHY should this have to be such a huge frigging deal?!?!  Why can’t someone just make a magazine ALL the time that promises 0% airbrushing 100% of the time??

Wouldn’t the happy medium be to have a magazine full of normal-to-thin models with no airbrushing? No wonder thin women with cellulite are losing their minds. They being shown that all women in the media are perfect.

The fact is, great-looking women have scars, cellulite, wrinkles, and liver spots. They just DO.

For years, publishers ridiculed about featuring skinny models. Then, some tried featuring full-figured models and that didn’t make women feel any better. It’s more about the airbrushing.

I challenge the publishers in this country to create a beauty magazine that’s full of the same fashion, sex, and celeb crap that all beauty mags have… but no airbrushing.

Because, ultimately… not only would an airbrush-free magazine make us all feel a little more natural and a little less lied-to, but publishers would save MILLIONS in production costs every year. And what Editor-in-Chief wouldn’t like the sound of that..?

The other day, I decide to stop into a Duane Reade and pick up a box of Gobstoppers. I basically needed a sucking candy that I wouldn’t be tempted to bite into… jawbreakers seemed like a logical choice… anyway…

I popped into the Duane Reade at Broadway and Duane Street (the original location, I believe) and found an Indian woman in her 60s stocking the candy aisle. And no Gobstoppers. I felt foolish asking, but I couldn’t believe they didn’t have them. Nerds and Gobstoppers have always been at every drug store as far back as I can remember…

I asked her where the Gobstoppers were. She looked at me, puzzled, and replied in a thick accent. “Stoppers?” She turned to her manager, a Chinese guy about my age with his own thick, native accent. They went back and forth, neither of them knowing what “stoppers” or “Gobstoppers” were.

Now, I bring up the accent/ethnicity thing because, apparently, if they weren’t stocking this candy, these folks just really may not have heard of them. Apparently, these kinds of crappy fruit-flavored candies are only a staple in the diet of American kids..? And perhaps the translation of “gobstopper” in the 70s version of Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory came out to be another word..? (remember, it was a critical part of that classic movie…)

Anyway, I left there baffled and sugarless.

Along my walk, I passed another Duane Reade (surprise surprise…) and decided to pop in. Maybe that one store just didn’t have them.

Nope. This other Duane Reade didn’t have Gobstoppers either.

My disbelief and confusion suddenly turned to sadness. Had the Willy Wonka company stopped making them? Had the brand suffered so much that no one cared about the Everlasting Gobstopper anymore?

No. I found them at a Shop Rite in NJ. They’re alive and well… although much smaller than I ever remember them being. You used to be able to suck on a Gobstopper and go through 3 or more different color/flavor layers before reaching the core. Now it’s just two.

Growing up, the brand “Gobstopper” wasn’t questioned. If you said “Gobstopper”, people immediately knew what one was. Perhaps in all the kerfuffle of brand extensions and candy trends, the Everlasting Gobstopper lost its way. And now, people don’t know what one is anymore.

Ask someone what a Gobstopper is. I dare you. See what they say.

So, I feel like we’ve been hearing a lot about carbon footprints. How many tons of crap do we put out into the world, killing it everyday? (I tend to think if the quiz I took had a category for “advertising,” my score would have been much higher…)

My score was 9.1 tons of CO2. I might have been off by a ton or two… it’s kinda hard to estimate how many gallons of oil I use in my apartment building…that sort of thing. I tend to think my score was so low because I barely drove a car this year.

The American average was just over 20 tons per person. Guess it’s good to ride the subway everyday, right? Just doin’ my part, Momma Earth.

Wanna find out how much of a planet killer you are? Click here.

Ever wondered why we need 3000 lb vehicles to move one or two 170 lb humans?

Guess what: we don’t. Bikes have been proving this for centuries, right?

Loremo is out to prove that a car can be both light and safe. Their 2-seater weighs about 10 bucks (that’s 1000 lbs for you reg’ler folks). And because it will have less weight to pull than other cars, it gets a whopping 150 mpg.

In terms of safety and wind resistance, the entrance to the car is not through 2 side doors, but through a giant gate in the front. It’s pretty cool.

Basically, hybrid technology is all great and good (and expensive)… but it seems aerodynamics and some new materials could save us drivers just as much at the pump.

Pretty soon, I’m gonna be working on some pretty lady-centric ads for one of my clients. The client really wants to focus in on women.

I say awesome. That’s great.

My worry? We can’t talk to women like they’re women.

Like, “hey ladies! Let’s go get hot and go running and do yoga. It will totally make us feel good.”

No no no.

Think about it – you could never take that same message and flip it for men: hey dudes! Let’s go get hot and go running and do yoga. It will totally make us feel good.”

It just… wouldn’t resonate with men. And honestly, the first example doesn’t do a hell of a lot to resonate with women. It just makes women feel like they’re being spoken to. Like… some brand out there is sooooo sure they have them all figured out.

I definitely have some ideas about how to approach our upcoming assignments. I just hope to God that our client doesn’t want us to pink yoga crap. There’s so much more to us women and what we’ll respond to. Perhaps it’s time for us to do something completely new and unexpected.

Like… NOT talk “to” women.