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Toaster Strudel, Millennials, and the Female Creative Director

By September 29, 2013No Comments

It was something Kat Gordon said in our interview that connected with the TV commercial I was watching. I watched the commercial dazed and my very first thought was that there’s no way a female creative director came up with this concept. I could be wrong but not likely. That pesky three percent number persists within the advertising industry even some 20 years later.

During our interview, Kat shared that when asked, women felt that marketers just don’t get them. You can listen to the entire interview here. I had that same feeling after watching the commercial so I decided to do some research.

I discovered that the brand manager for the product is a man. Now as Kat mentioned in the interview, men are perfectly capable of marketing to women. It’s when the entire room is male and no one has asked a female creative for her input or taken that input seriously  is when it seems most of the audience disconnect happens.

According to She-conomy, women account for 85 percent of all consumer purchases. That’s everything from new homes to food and women represent the majority of all online shoppers.

The company’s press release said that moms were their primary audience and that their goal was to also reach the millennials in the family.

So I’m a mom. A proud Gen X mom with a growing teenage boy. I’m in the grocery store at least twice a week and as you’ve probably guessed by now, I didn’t like the ad.

My dear friend, a fellow Gen Xer with no children, had the following visceral reaction to the commercial.

Toaster-Strudel- Female Creative Directors

I did a Google search and it seems there are a lot of people out there who also don’t like this commercial.

Somehow the boy with the “whack” accent knocking down people’s front door wasn’t connecting with a lot of people. But then again, judging solely by the names of the offended posters, I don’t think they were members of the brand’s target audience.

So I conducted my own little sample survey of millennial moms on Facebook to see if they liked the ad.

Moms were all millennials of varying ethnic and economic backgrounds.

Here’s what they said about the Pillsbury Toaster Strudel ad.

Hey Mikey, They Don’t Like It

  • 33% of all who saw the ad liked the ad
  • 50% of all ad viewers disliked the ad
  • 16.7% said they neither liked nor disliked the ad

Fifty percent of the target audience disliked the ad. That’s a pretty large percentage from a sample of the primary audience to dislike an ad supposedly created for them. My survey was a simple three-question survey but if I had more time I would have loved to rate their dislike or like for this ad.

More Cheesy Than Anything

I then asked moms if they thought the ad was cute, funny, not cute, or not funny (yes, I know, not scientific but moms understood). Fifty percent of all viewers thought the ad was cute. Another 33.3 percent said the ad was not funny and 16.7 percent felt it wasn’t cute. One mom said:

“Cheesy-cute…but that wasn’t an option. lol made me laugh the first time but I feel like it would get old if I saw it more than 2 or 3 times.”

Another mom said:

“I liked it, but it was a little cheesy.”

Was cheesy the emotion or connection the brand wanted to achieve? I don’t think I’ve ever been inspired to make a purchase behind something that seemed cheesy. But that’s me marketing from my own personal preference.

Granted, my research is in no way thorough but for me,  it confirmed what Kat and I talked about.

Adweek Brand Genius - Female Creative Directors and Brand ManagersWe need more qualified women on creative teams and more female brand managers who can help teams connect with the 85 percent of the population who is doing most of the shopping and feels invisible to marketers.

Especially when only one woman was featured on the cover of Adweek’s issue highlighting what they called the industry’s Brand Genius.

There are qualified, talented, brilliant women out there who are more than capable of contributing great insight to creative teams. You just may have to look in places you’ve never considered before.

The 3% Conference is quickly approaching and their mission is to support more female creative leadership in advertising agencies because:

  •  Female consumers deserve to be marketed to from a place of understanding
  • Brands deserve to not have their marketing budgets wasted in a 97% testro-fest
  • Everyone – especially children — deserve a healthier media diet in the 3,000 ads they consume daily

The 3% Conference isn’t a huge male-bashing party. Honestly it isn’t. It’s all about solutions and how those inside and outside the industry can begin to initiate change. If you’re able to attend, male or female, I highly recommend you attend and join this national conversation.

Thanks to Marjorie Clayman and Michica Guillory for allowing me to use images from their Facebook wall.


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