"Ladies drink fr*e"

What's in Kim's Mailbox?

In case you haven't noticed, everyone's a little "sensitive" these days.

We're much more sensitive and aware of outdated gender and racial stereotyping--at least most of us are (and that's generally a good thing).

Many marketers are responding to this new awareness. They're retiring brand names. They're being more careful about who they show in their advertisements.

They're even avoiding favoring one gender over another when pricing haircuts or dry cleaning (which could be good or bad, depending on which group you fall into).

Unfortunately, that probably means no more "Ladies' night" discounts at happy hours. That used to be a thing. Kool & the Gang even did a song about it in 1979.

Of course, I was too young to frequent bars back then. (Okay, I admit, I had a fake ID. My mom isn't reading this.)

In any case, as I browsed the Food section of the Washington Post reading about eggplant salad recipes and the latest wine recs, I came across an article about a recent bit of hot water Bacardi got themselves into.

They DARED to target women with a new "Spa Day Spritz". The nerve.

It actually wasn't even an ad they sent out that created sparks. It was a press release sent to a Food & Wine editor about their new "light as a feather" vodka drinks.

The article went on about overt gender-stereotyping of women, or at least the kind of woman who is "forever sighing her way through carpool duty or warrior-posing on a yoga mat". (Of course, if that's what your target market actually does, is it really that terrible?)

And it debated whether alcohol drinks should be marketed by gender, pointing out the success of White Claw hard seltzer, which didn't employ the typical "bro's guzzling brews" or "ladies sipping wine" stereotypes in its advertising.

After I got back to my desk and googled it, I found out that several articles had been written about the whole bungled Bacardi launch. Here's a link to one that ran in the UK's "Daily Mail". Near the end of it was this brilliant meme that had been shared on Twitter...

Personally, I think this ended up being a whole lot of "brew" ha ha over nothing. The truth is, there are products or services created and branded with a specific target audience in mind. Is this not what marketing is all about?

In fact, it comes from a place of service to create solutions that solve problems that a specific target prospect wants solved.

At the same time, you also don't want to make your target market overly narrow when it may be more profitable to broaden it out. Otherwise you'll have a hard time scaling your offer and promotion.

Attract your target prospect without going "too narrow"

A good example of this would be some of my past control promos for bone health supplements. Obviously, they're more appealing to women. But more men are aware that they, too, suffer bone loss.

So I make sure to sell to them as well, but not as predominantly in the copy. The product and copy are primarily targeting women of a certain age...and they're the ones who make up 95% of the buyers. While men make up just 5%, that's still better than zero, so their orders are adding to the bottom line.

If advertising a product that's tailored to a specific audience, and creating a branding strategy that goes with it, is wrong, than that goes against just about everything I was taught about marketing and have learned along the way.

So yes, I felt folks were being a little bit overly sensitive about this new beverage launch. There were plenty of other things to criticize about it instead.

As a copywriter, the main thing I found offensive about this so-called "Spa Day Spritz" marketing was the copy.

How NOT to write a main headline The article mentioned that at one point there had been a web page promoting the new alcoholic beverage that was "designed for women, by women". It was taken down but was cached, more proof that anything on the Internet stays there forever.

Take a look at the copy that appeared on that web page, and you'll see one of the worst-written headlines ever (wonder how much they paid the ad agency that did it?)

The headline read, "Plume & Petal: A Spa-Inspired Spirit for the American Woman".

Now, what does that even mean? I'm assuming "Plume & Petal" is the brand name, which at the very least could be improved on by making it clear it is, in fact, the name of the product.

Every headline can be made stronger by including news, benefit, or curiosity, or ideally, all three. In this case, simply inserting the word "Introducing" before "Plume & Petal" would communicate that this is "news".

To me, what's even more glaring is the lack of a benefit. The lack of a "why" behind the product. Why choose this? Why is this "for me" if I'm that "American Woman" target prospect?

And this may be where the desire to gender-ize (I just made that word up) your marketing can end up shooting your sales efforts in the foot. Because the "why" behind the product is a beverage that's lighter in alcohol and less caloric.

Sure, it may have some appealing "girly" flavors, too...but here's my point.

Why limit it to just women? Chances are there are guys who also want the option of a lighter, less filling alcoholic beverage. If that sounds familiar, it's very similar to the angle used decades ago when "Miller Lite" came out...and immediately became a hit with both gals and guys.

But even if you're just targeting women, get those end benefits into your main headline and the rest of your copy. At a glance, your copy needs to convey how it uniquely improves your prospect's life or solves a problem.

It still always comes back to the basics! Something we direct response copywriters could teach the rest of the advertising world a thing or two about...

Yours for smarter marketing,


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