Leo Burnett takes a 'Miss Understood' look at advertising

MUMBAI: Leo Burnett Worldwide recently took a look at some of the pressing issues facing the advertisers' ability to connect with one of the largest and most influential groups of consumers - women.

It delivered a presentation = Miss Understood -- Leo Burnett Reveals the Secrets of Advertising to Women at The Museum of Television and Radio in New York a few days ago.



The agency examined why advertising couldn't quite seem to engage women consumers with the same level of breakthrough work that is more frequently directed at men. Leo Burnett Worldwide chairman and CEO Linda Wolf and Leo Burnett USA chairman and chief creative officer Cheryl Berman, challenged the industry to raise the creative bar

across female-targeted categories largely associated with cliche-ridden, uninspiring and even offensive work.



Leo Burnett had conducted informal focus group interviews with women from their teens to their 40s in seven countries around the world. It then reviewed published data, queried journalists and gleaned insights from account planners across its own global network.

Based on this research, the presentation outlined women's changing perceptions as they pertain to five key areas that impact marketing to women: money, sex, humour, emotion and authenticity.



Wolf said, "Women around the world are changing in significant ways. We believe that their evolving perspectives on these areas in particular must be addressed by advertisers if they want to truly connect with women. For a group that makes upwards of 80 per cent of all buying decisions, marketers must sit up and pay attention."

The speech noted how women's increased financial gains around the world have generated a new class of female consumers that advertisers are struggling to engage. In addition, their newfound willingness to express their sexuality -- as evidenced by the global popularity of television programs, books and films such as Sex and the City and Bridget Jones' Diary -- has given marketers cause to reexamine the tone and look of their advertising.

Berman implored creatives, planners and executives from agencies around the world to take more risks and reach for more creative solutions when marketing to women. "Women as a group are underserved by our industry, at least in terms of being approached with advertising that motivates and moves them in ways they find relevant and meaningful. Increasingly, they're tuning out ads that don't present women in realistic and believable ways."

Berman and Wolf also underscored the importance of using the right mix of emotion and humour in advertising directed at women, and of achieving a sense of authenticity, in order to better connect with increasingly skeptical female consumers. They concluded with a series of calls to action designed to give advertisers and agencies an advantage when marketing to women. Their advice was:

* Follow the Money: Acknowledge how women's new financial strength is affecting their buying habits in many key categories.

* Try a New Position: Sex sells, but it has to be approached with a distinctly female point of view.

* Use Emotion Carefully: Women will turn off advertising that tries to portray emotion without truly evoking emotion.

* Make it Funny: Women would welcome more humor in commercials directed at them.

* Make it Real: Present women with authentic characters and situations that they can relate to in real ways.

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