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As we learned during last year’s M2W® Pre Conference Workshop, digital marketing can “convert women from customers to brand evangelists”—which is exactly what Kenneth Cole is hoping to do during this holiday season.  As part of its “BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR” campaign, the popular fashion brand has just introduced its first digital “Wish List” and corresponding iPhone application.  The interactive digital gift registry is designed to allow consumers to easily create and share their personal holiday wish lists with friends and family (including even non Kenneth Cole related items) via email, Facebook and Twitter.  The iPhone app allows users to take their Wish Lists with them, and when near a Kenneth Cole store location, they will receive a reminder on their phones about a Wish List item that remains to be fulfilled.  And for those of us looking for some new gift ideas, the Wish List site includes an “Our Friends” section which gives you a peek at the lists created by Kenneth himself as well as some of his A-list friends.

To encourage giving gifts beyond retail, Wish List users can suggest a contribution to their favorite charity—giving them the opportunity to be bestowed with a ‘Hero’ badge as well as have the company add a link to the organization’s website in an effort to encourage donations and volunteerism (another great marketing to women strategy:  cause marketing).


And speaking of mobile apps, P&G’s Always has just launched its ‘Always Me™ mobile application–a comprehensive period and ovulation tracker.  The application was designed with input from a select group of women-focused website editors, bloggers and female health experts.  “A key motivator for us was the reality that while all women establish daily routines and different ways to manage their monthly cycles, they are also looking for solutions to help make their lives a little easier,” said Courtney Schuster, Always Global Brand Manager. “In an age where our phones connect us to our family, friends and on-demand content, we created the Always Me mobile app to help women stay connected with their bodies in a current, customizable way.” One of the unique features of Always Me is a personalized question and answer function to address any personal or intimate questions that she may have.  Consumers can submit a question related to their menstrual cycle, and a health professional will provide a timely answer within 24 hours.

Looking ahead, P&G has plans to expand the mobile application to include a wide range of useful information and tips for various aspects of a woman’s life, including skin, hair and beauty care and will continue to evolve the product by listening to consumers—a smart move when it comes to finding success with marketing to women.  “Listening to consumers is the easy part.  Joining the conversations and making changes based on that listening is much more difficult, but can be the lynchpin in engaging women in your brand,” said Ketchum’s Kelley Skoloda during her 2010 M2W® brand panel.

Using humor as part of your marketing to women strategies is often a smart move.  “Brands shouldn’t be afraid to use humor,” said Amanda Stevens from Splash Consulting Group during her 2010 M2W® presentation. “Serious is boring.”  Kotex latest initiative is definitely not boring—especially since they have partnered with Emmy Award winning comedienne Kathy Griffin.  As part of the brand’s Panty-Approved program, the Kotex has launched a 5-webisode series that documents the head-to-toe ‘makeunders’ of their recent “Kotex Project Makeunder” winners.  Thousands of women participated in “Kotex Project Makeunder” which asked women to share their stories about the state of their lingerie drawers with winners receiving a ‘makeunder’ with Griffin and celebrity stylist George Kotsiopoulos.   In the webisodes, Griffin divulges personal stories while she and Kotsiopoulos style the three winners with new head-to-toe looks. Created and produced by BUZZMEDIA, the webisode series was also co-written by Kathy Griffin.  “Kathy and George were the perfect hosts to bring some fun and humor to the lingerie drawer,” said Kotex Brand Director, Aida Flick. “We hope the ‘Kotex Project Makeunder’ program and webisode series inspire women everywhere to embark on their own ‘Makeunder.'” The webisodes can be viewed on

The Kotex brand Panty-Approved program started in March 2010 and includes print and digital advertising, an updated website and a 7-day Panty Challenge.

The importance of connecting with Millennial women has been an M2W® conversation since 2008.  “Millennial women have the power to change everything in the world,” said Gigi Carroll of Draftfcb during her 2008 M2W® presentation.  “They have the power to change everything in marketing.”  And now, according to a new study by Levi’s®, it appears a generational shift in life priorities is truly changing the marketing to women playing field for this new group of women consumers.  Key highlights from the Levi’s® Shaping a New Future study include:

Redefining success and how to get there:

  • Ninety-six percent of Millennial women worldwide list “being independent” as their most important life goal.
  • Last on Millennials’ priority list? Marriage and other more traditional pursuits – being a mother (68 percent), getting married (50 percent) and being wealthy (43 percent), were seen as far less essential in defining success.
  • Not only are Millennial women reshaping what success looks like, they’re changing the way they reach their goals as well. More than half (58 percent) of women worldwide “do not have a definite plan to achieve their long-term goals.” This lack of a “life plan” is precisely what Millennial women seem to relish – and perhaps what makes previous generations so nervous, leading to accusations of Millennials extending childhood into their twenties.

Re-imagining mentorship:

  • While they might not desire a prescribed path, Millennial women do express a need for perspective from other women. To that end, they are re-imagining traditional mentorship – transforming it into a communal exchange that’s two-way rather than one-way, shared among many women rather than one-on-one.
  • In fact, 94 percent of Millennial women agree that “the best mentors are people you can both give advice to and receive advice from.” In addition, 88 percent agree that “a mentor is someone who helps them shape their future, regardless of their age or professional experience,” and 77 percent say that “mentors can be someone their own age.”

In response to these findings, the Levi’s® brand has launched, a global online community where Millennial women around the world can connect with peers and mentors to shape their futures.  “Since introducing the first pair of women’s jeans 75 years ago, Levi’s® has been a relevant part of women’s lives,” said Mary Alderete, Vice President of Levi’s® Global Women’s Marketing. “Today, young women face more opportunity in their twenties than any generation of women before them. It’s important we understand their mindset and their cultural and societal impact. We truly see as a community of women changing the world – it’s a global platform of women coming together to share, inspire, grow and shape their futures.”

“Female entrepreneurs contribute $3 trillion dollars to the US economy and their numbers are growing dramatically,” said Jane Out of the Box founder Michele DeKinder-Smith during her workshop presentation at M2W®.  “These women not only make purchasing decisions for their businesses but also their households – so win their loyalty in business and benefit by getting their personal spending too.”  Advice that Jones New York seems to be following with the launch of “The Little Black Book of Career Advice.”   The Little Black Book of Career Advice is a part of the Jones New York “Empowering Your Confidence” campaign, and is a digitally integrated and socially shareable asset that features inspirational quotes from successful women across the country, including Lauren Bush, Arianna Huffington, Bonnie Fuller, Deborah Norville, Bobbi Brown and Ivanka Trump. The book will live on the Jones New York website (

Jones New York’s empowerment campaign celebrates the brand’s history of dressing women for success for over 35 years and has joined forces with Dee Dee Myers, the first female White House Press Secretary and author of The New York Times best-selling book Why Women Should Rule the World, to help spread the message.   Stacy Lastrina, chief marketing officer of Jones Apparel Group, said: “The Little Black Book of Career Advice was designed to help inspire women. We all have collected a great deal of wisdom and advice in our lives and careers, and Jones New York wanted to create a platform on which to share it.”

There are many sides to a woman and brands that succeed with their marketing to women efforts are those that discover new ways to keep their products and services relevant to a woman’s life—whatever that life may be.  Sears appears to be tapping into the multidimensional woman with their new campaign, “The Many Sides of Me.”  “The Many Sides of Me” represents the next step in the company’s strategic effort to transform its Softlines businesses and emotionally re-engage women in the Sears brand.  “We have executed against a range of initiatives tied to our strategic pillars that have improved our relevance to customers, including engaging them on a personal level,” said Scott Freidheim, executive vice president, Operating and Support Businesses, Sears Holdings. “With this launch, we’re on a path to ‘Feminize, Energize and Digitize’ the Sears soft side brand positioning.”

This message may sound a bit familiar to those who attended last April’s M2W®.  During the conference, we gained insight into the brand journey of Memorex.  “In 2008, Memorex set out to reposition the brand and develop a deeper connection with an often-forgotten target in the consumer electronics category—women,” said M2W® presenter Jess Walton, brand director, Memorex Consumer Electronics.  “We invested considerable time improving our understanding of how electronics play a role in the lives of women and their families which led to new, innovative products and key marketing strategies.”

For Sears, “The Many Sides of Me” campaign allows women to express their ever-evolving “me’s” while the campaign highlights how women achieve their own unique style by offering an assortment of strong and versatile pieces that become an essential part of their wardrobes.  Sears has tailored its fashion assortment to match how women move seamlessly through their dynamic lives.  The aspirational nature of the platform will evolve throughout 2011 to include additional fashion-driven Softlines categories in order to meet the dynamic needs of today’s consumer.  As an extension of “The Many Sides of Me” print campaign in key September fashion issues, the brand is also collaborating with leading titles Vogue and Lucky and will be featured on their digital shopping platforms. “In the past, Sears has asked women to come to us to see our Softlines offering, but the essence of the new campaign is that the digitally engaged fashion customer wants those first looks to come to her. Mobile is one of the many ways we are reaching out directly to the customer wherever she seeks inspiration and ideas,” said Henson. The collaboration will enable customers to shop and buy Sears Fall fashion merchandise on the Vogue Stylist and Lucky at Your Service apps for the Apple iPhone—another trend we heard about during M2W®’s Pre-Conference Workshop on mobile marketing and social media.

According to a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll, if women could be granted one wish to change something about themselves they would choose to be richer or thinner.  In this poll, American adults were asked if they would most want to be richer, thinner, smarter, or younger, a large plurality (43%) professed that they would want to be richer, according to a recent Adweek Media/Harris Poll.  However, it appears men and women view these traits slightly differently.  Although just 14% of both men and women say they would choose to be smarter, that’s the only characteristic they agree on. More men say that they would choose to be richer (46%, compared to 41% of women), while 29% of women say that they would most want to be thinner, compared to just 14% of men who say the same. And while women may have the stereotype of lying about their age, 16% of men say they would most want to be younger, compared to just 8% of women who say the same.

Mary Lou Quinlan, CEO and Jen Drexler, Principal of Just Ask a Woman and co-authors of the recent book What She’s Not Telling You, see these results as evidence of women’s Half-Truth telling—a topic the Just Ask a Woman team spoke about during last year’s M2W®.  Quinlan observes, “While in public most women might claim the Half Truth that they’d prefer brains to money, the Whole Truth (especially in this economy), is that they’d like to be richer. With a little extra cash, they can always study their way to smarter or buy their way to thinner. It’s not politically correct but it’s honest.” Drexler weighs in, “Likewise, we’re not surprised that women chose being thinner above younger. Gen Y, X and Boomer women don’t necessarily want to “be” younger or sacrifice the wisdom that comes with age. They want to “feel” and “look” younger which is often equated to a mythical or real time when they felt happiest with their weight. Leave it to women to find a way to have their cake and eat it too!”

Suave is heading to the Emmy® Awards with nominated actress Sofia Vergara from “Modern Family” fame.  In an effort to promote their Suave Professionals line of products, the brand has created a Facebook page that not only allows consumers to choose the best red carpet look for Vergara, but shows them how to achieve each look on their own by viewing special step-by-step videos featuring Suave Professionals Celebrity Hairstylist, Jenny Cho.  After voting for their favorite look, visitors are automatically entered to win a red carpet “swag bag” and have the chance to attend this year’s awards show for a day of VIP pampering.  Sofia’s entire award show look—the dress and the Suave Professionals products used to create the winning look—will be auctioned by the Clothes Off Our Back Foundation to benefit children’s charities across the globe.

Many of us at M2W® are big fans of AMC’s Mad Men, a popular show that depicts life inside (and outside) of a New York-based ad agency in the 1960’s.  While we love to watch the storylines unfold and witness what life must have been like for female executives in the 60’s ad world, we can’t help but wonder, has the industry really changed all that much from the scenes we see on TV?

We asked some of today’s top female ad executives to share their thoughts on how the industry has changed since the days of Mad Men and how those changes have helped brands better connect with consumers—not just female consumers, but all consumers.

Q:  How are the ad agencies of today different than the one we see each week on Mad Men?

Sophie KellySophie Kelly, Partner and Managing Director, StrawberryFrog:
The advancement of women in executive roles in advertising today versus the 1960s reflects the cultural changes in America.  In the Mad Men era of the early 1960s, women made up less than 33% of the workforce. There were few female role models in the business and political worlds, and not a single female CEO of a major US corporation. The same was true in advertising; there were few women employed in non-secretarial positions and the few that did had to claw their way through the glass ceiling like Peggy Olson.  As one of those very few female junior copywriter’s at JWT in the early 60s recounts, ‘I had to wear a hat and gloves to distinguish myself from the secretarial pool. I never took that hat off, even in the bathroom.”

Obviously, our cultural situation is radically different now.  There are more women in the US workforce than men, the number of women in graduate school exceed the number of men and we have women running for president and running major Fortune 500 companies like Indira Nooiye the CEO of Pepsi Co, one of our clients at StrawberryFrog.  Women today are not just consumers of advertising, like they were in the Mad Men days. 66% of women today are part of the working world of commerce. Women are not just consuming products, they are creating them.

In terms of advertising, the industry reflects the same cultural changes.  We have a greater number of women executives and clients at the highest level.  Male advertisers in the Mad Men age often patronized their female target or put her under pressures of the male concept and ideal of beauty, femininity and motherhood. Today, we have a situation of women speaking and marketing to fellow women.  In fact, you could say the tables have turned in advertising. If you take the 2010 Super Bowl spots as an example, many of the commercials could be said to be offensive to men, as many of them featured men, masculinity and male behavior as the butt of the jokes.

Another big change since Mad Men is the arrival of the digital era, which turned the tables in favor of consumers.  Mad Men need to listen to their consumers now. Brands are no longer just controlled by marketers and advertisers; consumers in social media and the digital space can ‘talk back’ to brands and challenge the advertisers.  For example, our client’s product is Pampers and the large and influential mom blogging community.  If Don Draper were around today, he would be unable to sit in his ivory tower and dictate product messaging. He’d be held accountable to his women consumers and have to engage in a dialogue with them.

Helayne SpivakHelayne Spivak, EVP, Chief Creative officer, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness:
My Top 10 list:
1-Madison Avenue is in Soho.
2-Casual Fridays killed the impeccably dressed executive.
3-Men’s hair product has gotten much better.
4-Ash trays now make great candy dishes.
5-Admin’s salaries do not cover one-bedroom apartments.
6-Women certainly WILL worry their pretty little heads about it.
7-Men who look like John Hamm do not run advertising agencies.  (Well, not since Alex Bogusky left the business last week)
8-Getting pregnant is not a bad career move.
9-Office parties are able to be viewed on youtube.
10-Clients no longer have the final say on work.  (Oh wait, that hasn’t changed at all)

Kathy DelaneyKathy Delaney, Chief Creative Officer of North America, SapientNitro:
The advertising industry in 2010 consists of many more women in positions of authority and power than was the rule in the 60’s shown on Mad Men.  Also, with all of the technology and connectivity we have in the office space now, there is a lot more productivity and less wastefulness–and a lot less affairs and 3-hour martini lunches.

Sharon NapierSharon Napier, CEO, Partners + Napier:

  • Women have a seat at the table. We’re not just the secretaries or mistresses anymore, we’re agency leaders.  We have very senior clients who are women. Still not enough, but we’re getting there!
  • Getting ahead and being successful takes listening, collaborating, and open-mindedness. Good ideas aren’t shot down by scotch-wielding executives reclining on office couches. Peggy shows us that great ideas can, and often do, come from the most unexpected places.

  • There are much fewer drinks had, if any. Creative directors and account executives aren’t reaching for the mini-bar every time a challenge presents itself.
  • Today, power isn’t measured by the size of your office or by the looks of your secretary. It’s measured by the creativity of your ideas, the strength of your relationships, and the client results you drive. You have to be accountable.
  • We’re still style conscious like Joan Holloway and think guys like Don Draper are dreamy. It’s just that our clothes are feminine and professional, and men are our coworkers and teammates, not the gatekeepers to our careers.

Q:  How have changes in the industry actually improved the way brands market to consumers—not only female consumers, but all consumers?

Sophie Kelly: The Mad Men era was hierarchical, traditional and linear in its approach to developing communication.  It was the era of the one-way ‘broadcast’ messaging, where advertisers would ‘interrogate the product until it confesses’ its ‘unique selling point’ and then push it out to consumers.  That hyper-rational, one-way relationship with consumers is gone.

Unlike the 1960’s when there were few choices and limited media channels, consumers today have 1,000s of brands to choose from and 3,000 messages targeted at them every day.  These days it is about finding a belief or a point of view that brands can stand for and putting that to market in a way that starts a movement amongst consumers. A movement that consumers want to associate themselves with, that spreads the advocacy for that brand.  It’s all about listening to and engaging with your consumers in a way that aligns them to your brand values.  Social media is a huge force in media today and we need to connect with consumers about more than just product superiority claims. In fact, peer-to-peer recommendations and brand advocacy are greater influences on brand choices than traditional advertising. Nobody wants to talk about your ‘superior dryness’; consumers are adopting brands and products because they find the brand’s asserted point of view in line with a way of living or views on the world, which they hold as ideal.  You need to create content that people want to engage with and share in popular culture. And you have to live these brand values in the real world; in the digital age people can uncover the truth about your brand in an instant.

This shift from rational to emotional messaging is very relevant to the way men and women process information and arrive at a decision. Men try to find the answer and make a decision. Women are far more about an emotional attachment. As Faith Popcorn once said “ Women don’t buy brands. They join them”. Perhaps that makes women more equipped to create breakthrough and relevant content and experiences for today’s consumers.

Helayne Spivak: When it was acknowledged that women were not simply the legal companions of men (a/k/a wives) a lot of thinking changed.  If not all women were the same, perhaps not all men were the same.  Maybe you have to have insight into how people think before you waste time and marketing to mass stereotypes.  I think we’ve learned that by trying talk to everyone, you talk to no one.  But, when you talk to one person with clear understanding of what he or she needs, you reach exactly who you need to reach.

Kathy Delaney: The influx of technology has changed the way offices work internally and the way ad agencies speak to and interact with consumers.  In the 60’s, you basically had a couple of choices.  TV, print, outdoor, radio.  Now, between mobile, digital, interactive avenues, there are more ways to reach the right consumers at the right times where they are engaged and interested.  This has changed the terms of engagement entirely.  You are able to pinpoint and have a much more intimate and successful ongoing dialogue with a consumer that is night and day from the communications of the Mad Men era.  Also, in Peggy Olsen’s time, she would’ve been engaged to market women’s products to other women.  But we’ve come a long way since then.

Insights about consumers often come from diverse places – looking like the consumer target on paper doesn’t mean you’ll have the insight to market that brand to the mass consumer.  We have female copywriters working on sporting brands that target young males and we have male strategists working on consumer goods for mothers now.  It’s much more of a meritocracy now than it used to be, with good ideas coming from anywhere.

Sharon Napier: The ad industry attracts a wider pool of smart talent because ideas are the power currency. There are more women, a broader range of backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities – you name it. This brings broader thinking, which helps drive ideas that are better for consumers.

We actually care about listening to consumers, tapping into our resources, and making sure we know the mindset of the audience.  Assumptions and sweeping generalizations have no place in coming up with brilliant campaigns.

The agencies of the sixties operated in silos, restricting the free flow of ideas. Without the barriers erected by a hierarchical, pecking-order world, we can embrace the fluidity of the idea, allowing us to do great work.

Piplerlime ShoesPiperlime, the online shop for shoes, apparel, handbags and jewelry, is the newest retail sponsor of Lifetime’s Project Runway for season 8.  “Project Runway captures the heart of fashion lovers everywhere.  We cheer on the contestants, watch the celebrity judges and are inspired by the styles,” said Jennifer Gosselin, general manager of Piperlime.  “Piperlime is excited to be part of this celebration of creativity.”

As part of the collaboration, Piperlime has redesigned the series’ “Accessories Wall” by painting it their signature green and loading it with fashionable accessories for the designers to choose from to complete each challenge. They will also feature a shopable version of the “Piperlime Accessories Wall” on, giving customers a chance to buy the items featured on the show.  “We love shoes.  We adore accessories.  So it is especially meaningful that this partnership showcases that part of our brand’s heritage,” Gosselin continued.  Each week, Piperlime will also have exclusive video content from Project Runway, offering behind-the-scenes insight from each week’s challenge winner. The season’s winning designer will have a chance to design and sell an exclusive collection on

The new season of Project Runway debuts on Thursday, July 29th on Lifetime.

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