I’m Juliana Lukasik, owner and commercial director for Portland based @Large Films, a visual content production company. As a director I have worked extensively with Nintendo of America on the Wii, DS, and Wii U as they launched their new consoles and new video game titles. When I bought @Large in 1999, it was a traditional commercial production company. Our clients were exclusively advertising agencies and we represented 6-8 different commercial directors at any given time. The directors were our product. When approached by a potential client, we showed a compilation of their reels with the hope that our director would be chosen, which would ultimately lead to my production company producing the job.
Things went along very well. I had great creative talent and we were growing at a rate of about 10-20% per year. Around 2003 I went to a presentation and learned some facts that were very interesting to me. The presenterdemonstrated overwhelming evidence that women were in charge of the purchasing decision on average a staggering 85% of the time. Even in areas typically male dominated like cars and home electronics, the percentage of women buying the product sometime exceeded 50%. These statistics are still true today.
To say that the presentation had impact on me is putting it mildly. I looked at my own business and decided that it was of critical importance to represent more women commercial directors. Instinctively I knew that there was a huge growth opportunity for my company by having women at the creative helm. For me it was a no-brainer. So I started looking for women directors and hit my first major road block, I couldn’t find any.I want to emphasize something here. In 1998 women directors, including feature films, documentaries, independent films, and commercials made up 9% of all directors. Today it is likely still around 5% as it was in 2011. It’s actually gotten worse. From the start of my career in 1990 to the day I directed my first commercial in 2005, I had never worked with a female director.
So back to 2003…Way back then, it also occurred to me that I didn’t see many women creative directors at advertising agencies either. It turns out that in both categories, Creative Directors and Commercial Directors, there is a huge imbalance of men to women. Currently women comprise 3% of Creative Directors in the US.
This means that 97% of the time, men are selling to women, no matter what the product or who the audience is.Frequently I have clients come to me and ask for us to reach out to a specific market. For example, I had a client ask for an authentic spot aimed at the Hispanic market. So we put together a team of Latino specialists, including a Hispanic consultant, the director, and as many of the crew as we could. It made perfect sense to our client that to reach the Hispanic market with an authentic message, we needed Hispanic people on the team. Yet, this statistic shows, the same logic does not seem to translate to reaching out to their female consumers.
Now you may be saying to yourself, this woman thinks men can’t advertise to women. Not true. Men have been doing a sometimes admirable job advertising to a broad audience. Our economy is based on consumers buying products.It is the engine that makes America’s economy grow. What I am suggesting is that there is a missed opportunity here.
Based on the facts above, we know that currently, men are at the creative helm when selling products. What if you had more women at the creative helm? What if you had more women speaking to women? Would you reach that highly desirable market of women 30-65, who have money to spend? Do women respond differently to women?
If women are on the team from the beginning there are a few distinct advantages.Women can provide perspective when it comes to the elusive loyal female consumer.They also strongly consider multi-generation issues for their children and aging parents.And women may be more likely to be loyal to companies/products/services that are run by women, created for women or treat women well in media.Practically speaking, if you find yourself in a position to do so, hire women for all stages of your product’s life cycle.
Any business that seeks to gain LOYALTY must instill a sense of VALUE for their products and services, whether real or imagined. Women are naturally intuitive and are able to interpret results and draw conclusions based on unspoken language/body language, which can bring to light value propositions.Values may differ between men and women and men cannot assume they understand value the same way as women.A desire to achieve value and loyalty should drives nearly every aspect of your product’s development.
Women are also detail oriented and consider other practical factors that men may or may not take into consideration, and they are highly influential.Word of mouth is important because women are natural networkers and value shared experiences. If your product fails them, or does not meet the value standard you promoted, they will go out of their way to be sure their circle of friends and family know about it, via word of mouth or social media. The same is true if they become loyal consumers. I recently found a non LuLu Lemon brand of leggings that I love. They are just as good, better in many ways, and they are cheaper. I tell all my friends about them so that they can share in this value based product. I don’t even think twice about doing this, it just comes naturally. This is all important when making professional connections and growing market share. Let me give you some examples of some success stories where a corporation took it’s desire to broaden it’s market very seriously.
In 2006 Nintendo launched the Wii. They were very interested in reaching a broader market, especially women. I was involved from the beginning as a director and helped create lifestyle videos that included the whole family. Due to Nintendo’s commitment to reach that larger audience, they saw huge sales increases.
By 2007 the Wii was outselling Sony’s Play Station by three to one. In 2008 their share value had quadrupled.
To date, the company has sold over 67 million units of the Wii and Wii U console. (Take a moment to share quotes from Mom’s)
“If you are reaching out specifically to women it is absolutely critical that you understand the needs and wants of you target audience. Additionally, it’s important to seek the opinion of your target audience (in this case women) by integrating them into all aspects of the strategy and execution process. – Phil Raub, Former Director, Retail Marketing at Nintendo of America
Toyota had a problem. It’s called the Venza. When it first hit the market, Toyota tried to market it to both younger and older audiences and not very effectively. So they changed their stance. Now Toyota is marketing its Venza as a car for active Baby Boomers, as opposed to their sedentary children.
A recent series of five commercials features aimless twenty-something's snarking on their parents’ lame, boring lives. These monologues are juxtaposed with shots of older people (presumably the parents) driving around, mountain-biking, and generally partying it up while their children stay inside, checking their Facebook stats and rolling their eyes. The co-creative director for this campaign. A woman.The ads were universally considered effective in reaching a broader audience.
“To reach a broad market, especially to women, the creative needs to feel authentic. You know, there's nothing wrong with putting a 40-year-old women on a mountain bike. - Margaret Keene, Executive Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi LA
In 2004, Dove launched a campaign called “Real Beauty”. They used real women instead of models to sell their product. Sales grew enormously as women seemed to identify with other women in these ads.
Statistics show that there was a 700% increase in the number of firming creams sold. Their product line went from 1 cream to include shower gels and body gels. In this case, it seems that women identifying with the women in the campaign paid a huge dividend for Dove. Today, Dove continues to create authentic marketing campaigns targeted at attracting everyday women.
As we have learned from these success stories, the opportunities are enormous. If you have women at the creative helm you will generate an authentic experience for your desired consumer and they will tell others. We have established that women love VALUE and that they are extremely LOYAL. If you can tap into this market, your results will be huge.
I feel confident that I have demonstrated that there is a potential growth solution for your company and product. But it is a bit overwhelming, right? You may say to yourself, I already have relationships with marketing firms that are working well for me. How do I find these women creatives? Start with a project. For your next market push, decide that you will have more women involved in has many critical leadership roles as possible. Challenge your current relationships to include more women. Find a marketing firm who already have women in place. Give them a project or two and track the results. When you see the rewards, start expanding your vendor list to create a better balance.
Thank you in advance for your willingness to try new ways of approaching new audiences. Involving more women in the sale process will have a huge positive effect on your bottom line. AND, you will be promoting the idea that there could be more balance in how we advertise to our diverse population. Doing the right thing AND making money? Now that is a WIN WIN for everyone!
Juliana Lukasik: Women on Women: It's Not What You Think
Women on Women
It’s not what you think.
How you can reach a broader audience
and make more money.
Who I am and what I know.
Juliana, 1999, Decides to buy company.
Juliana, 2014, fifteen years later.
Female Buying Power
The amount of
women make or
targeted to men, including
improvement and consumer
electronics, that are
purchased by women.
Value & Loyalty
Any business that
seeks to gain
LOYALTY must instill
a sense of VALUE for
their products and
real or imagined.
“If you are reaching out specifically to women it is
absolutely critical that you understand the needs and
wants of you target audience. Additionally, it’s
important to seek the opinion of your target audience
(in this case women) by integrating them into all
aspects of the strategy and execution process.”
– Phil Raub, Former Director, Retail Marketing at Nintendo of America
Toyota Venza: Slacker Campaign
“To reach a broad market, especially to
women, the creative needs to feel authentic. You
know, there's nothing wrong with putting a 40-yearold women on a mountain bike.”
- Margaret Keene, Executive Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi LA