A Gender Perspective to Reach Purchase Deciders

Jan 11, 2016 Alberto Pierpaoli Prensa No comments



A Gender Perspective to Reach Purchase Deciders

Even though 80% of purchases are still decided by women, practically all advertising is made by men. Advisable?

Paula Ancery


“Advertising is a private men’s club,” fires Alberto Pierpaoli, CEO of The Gender Group and creator of Made in Femenino (Made in Female). “And this comes from someone who has been 40 years in agencies,” he continues. “After having spent the last ten years soaking in the gender perspective, I am a sort of convert,” adds the author of Mal-tratadas por el marketing (Mis-treated by Marketing), the first book in Latin America to deal with this matter.

Among his sources, there is the follow up of the 3% Conference, a North American itinerant conference that endeavors to support female creative leadership in advertisements. “They saw that only 3% of the creative general directors of agencies were women, precisely in the country that raises the banner of diversity so much,” says Pierpaoli. “And after holding conferences throughout the United States they managed to have 15% of the awards in the Cannes Festival given for ideas generated by female creative general directors.”

But why have the creative departments coalesced into the format of “men’s clubs”? “If we analyze a standard agency, we find both men and women working in all areas,” says Pierpaoli. “That is until we get to the creative department, which is in reality separated from the rest of the agency—more secret, more exclusive, and more pride-giving.”

If you want to cry…

In relation to what is so masculine happening inside there, the local CGD’s (and men) give two major answers. On the one hand, they talk about football and sex in crude terms. And on the other hand, when the time of brainstorming comes, the ideas thrown on the table are discarded without holding back expletives for proponents.

What they do find difficult to say, so it seems, is that they dread that, when working with women, they will cry if an idea is rejected, or they will be shocked if they hear a crude remark. And so, when it comes to engaging a “modern” female consumer, who in addition to being a housewife and a mother has a job, they have to make an effort that borders guesswork to imagine on what terms to reach her. They end up addressing a “masculinized” woman. Or, sometimes, they don’t see that their message needs to be women inclusive too.

All (men and women)

Cars are a good category to illustrate both points. In the United States, car sales are spread out evenly between men and women, even slightly higher for the latter, says Pierpaoli. And in Argentina, he says, 30% of the ABC1 car segment is bought by women for themselves. However, the category is still considered as only male, so the advertising messages talk about “power, acceleration, and a whole lot of technicalities that stem from a vision of the car as an extension of masculinity,” says the expert. “If a woman appears in a car advert, it is as a supplementary object,” he adds.

But the approach of a woman to a car is different. First, she wants it to be mechanically reliable—she doesn’t want to be left stranded in the middle of a highway. And second, for her the car is an object of personal enjoyment, and if she’s a mother, for family use. So she looks to see if the cabin is comfortable, in its inner capacity.

At the same time, there is a great “fear of change, that men would take it badly if the brand is presented in such a way that they understand it is being ‘feminized,’” says Pierpaoli. “So they continue to appeal to male motivations—status, prestige, authority. Instead, women have a cultural makeup whereby they look for consensus and empathy; they are more altruistic. For this reason, it is necessary to introduce the gender perspective in the era of diversity,” he concludes.



Don’t complain if you don’t complain

Categories seen as clearly “female,” i.e. those related with home care, continue to incur in stereotypes in line with Mad Men times. “It is advertising that functions based on a very high repetition rate,” explains Pierpaoli.

This is another part of the problem—at the end of the day, it works. Products are sold and companies send their invoices. “It enters your head by the force of money, not by its originality. But in the brands they think, ‘Why should we change, if we always did things this way and we are doing good, and a failure can cost a position?’”

He himself answers, “Because the world is changing.” We are living in times of cultural diversity and in these times women are part of this, with their own motivations, values and purchasing conducts.”

And he provides an example: in the United States Harley-Davidson has already sold 100,000 motorbikes to women. The brand saw a niche of girls who would like to drive motorbikes but were afraid of not being able to manage a Harley, and they developed a marketing program whereby they organize “Tupper meetings,” garage parties in which habitual users show potential users the capabilities of each model.

There is still another part of the problem—women “don’t complain” about the way they are mistreated by marketing, says Pierpaoli. He must be the only man that criticizes them for not complaining enough.


Claudia, the compulsive spender that earned Banco Galicia and Mercado McCann a Silver Award in Integral Campaigns. She saves because she buys using Quiero! Points.

(Published in the Special Supplement Clarin Creative Awards, iEco Clarin, Sunday, December 20, 2015, page 12)Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 4.46.43 PM


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