What are the ads Mumsnet like the most and the least?

Mumsnet recently carried out a survey of its members about good and bad ads for the DMA’s  ‘Why Women Shop on Venus & Men Shop on Mars’ conference.

(see www.venus2mars.net)

What came top was cute, but what came in at the bottom is a warning to any brand manager targeting women shoppers. Beware, your next big campaign may put more women off than turn them on.

Consider theses general research facts, taken from the Venus& Mars book (see end of article) and you have to ask, do we really know how to sell to women?

91% of women think advertisers don’t understand women (Nielsen). 74% feel misunderstood by car brands, 59% by food brands – that’s alarming. And using pink to appeal to women actually turns 91% off (Jupiter Research).

Top ads (in no order).

Maybe not surprising was the choice of the John Lewis ad, ‘She’s always a woman’, that goes through a woman’s different ages. Probably one of the most touching ads of the year and proving that great ads are all about a simple message put across in an emotionally engaging way, not shouting endless sales messages at you.

Aldi’s super ad for tea, featuring a gin drinker is pure simplicity, great performance and an excellent script. Sure it’s a good gag, but it delivers the message in an entertaining way.

Meerkat (Compare the Market) is a big hit with almost everyone, proving we love cute adorable things more than fat men in evening dress, or idiots talking at us, as is often the case in financial ads.

Talking of cute, the top car ad was VW Passat’s Darth Vader TV spot, ‘The Force’, featuring a 6 year old kid trying to get the force to work. Thanks to dad and a remote control, he thinks he has. The ad created in the US, and first shown during the super bowl (though shown on YouTube a week earlier), has been broadcast in the UK and is probably VW’s most success TV ad to date, with over 40 million views on YouTube.

It was recently spoofed by Greenpeace to point out that VW’s eco claims are not as green as they seem, accusing them of not supporting tighter emissions targets. The remake, ‘VW The Dark Side’ is brilliant, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXndQuvOacU.

The most hated (in no order).

It may have increased brand recognition over night but we all hate those “We buy any car” ads (OMG, even writing it starts it playing in my head). At long last Shake n’Vac has lost its top spot as worse ads of all time.

Equally as annoying, and another musical piece was the ‘Go Compare’ ads, with an opera singer endlessly repeating the same line. Personally, I actually like them for their kitsch nature, they are also well executed and some are very imaginative.

Halifax’s ‘Ice, Ice Baby’ was also strongly disliked, no need to explain why. Looks every bit the kind of ad a client makes himself.

M&S, featuring Twiggy – you may be surprised. Why? Because mums feel that celebs like Twiggy would never wear M&S clothes in real life. It’s not real.

But the real warning a few marketing directors should beware of is a popular formulae in ads, hated by mums and seen as patronising – any ad featuring women chatting around a kitchen table (4Cs in a kitchen). There are several on our screens at the moment, all terrible ads. One for a snack, one for a yoghurt and I can’t even remember what the others are for. All a turn off. This doesn’t surprise me, we got exactly this reaction when researching a series of TV scripts last year. The advice is – don’t even think about it.

When women represent 85% of consumer spending power, and a growing influence across all other areas, yet despite lots of research, data and insight, many brands are still getting it wrong when targeting women. Why? Could it be too many blokes in ad agency creative departments (85% on average)? Or too many myths and stereotypes in the media? Or just laziness – it’s easier to produced bland generic ads or use formulaes.

Good advice.

If we listen to Mums, what they want from ads is honesty, they just don’t trust many ads.

They prefer real people to celebs, who are obviously just taking the money. Sincerity is important.

They like funny, entertaining ads, ones that make them feel good, who doesn’t? Not salesmen shouting, too many sales messages (keep it single minded), boring ads or patronising stereotypes.

Don’t patronise women or men. Never portray them as simpletons, and avoid stereotypes. Four actresses sitting around a table discussing your product is unreal and insulting to the intelligence of women consumers.

Mums hate grandiose/misleading claims like ‘95% say better results when only 12 people have tried it’. Cleaning brands beware, they hate ads which portray men as undomesticated oafs. And a final bit of advice to social media experts (well people who claim to be SM experts), do not try and force a viral buzz by doing mad things, it won’t get passed about.

Online they like brands that listen to their opinions and respect their input, it pays to listen. And honesty, the brands that receive positive feedback on Mumsnet in terms of brand efficiency are often more authentic in terms of brand characteristics. Don’t con or try and force consumers to spread the word, that’s their choice not yours. You need to earn it.

If you upset mums, God help you!  When the Outdoor Advertising Association ran a bus side that read  ‘CAREER WOMEN MAKE BAD MOTHERS’, it was trying to stimulate a discussion. It didn’t bargain on Mumsnetters discussing it with anger, so much so, some complained to the clients of the OAA’s ad agency.

If you want to discover more facts and insights about male and female consumers, it’s all in the book ‘Why Women Shop on Venus & Men Shop on Mars’ which can be download as a free PDF from www.venus2mars.net. Copies of all the conference speeches (including many more Mumsnet insights) are also available to download.


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