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Sex(ism) Sells, Sexism is Shortchanging You

Sexism Sells

Sexism Sells - Simone Eclair Virtual Goddess

Comedic contribution by Simone Eclair.  Simone is a Virtual Goddess (Account Manager) with Talk About Creative and a stand-up comedian and writer at “Simone Eclair”. Follow her on Facebook for non-business lols!

After working in advertising/ sales/ media for FAR too long (14 years or so) I can say with utter confidence that sex still sells but I’m bemused at how many products are made ‘sexy’ or even just gendered. An ongoing surprise is also how easily sex and sexism is still conflated. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve sat in a meeting where a bloke explained to me ‘what women want’ I’d have equal pay by now! A quick flick through contemporary media will reveal that advertisers are still confident women are really, really excited about a clean toilet bowl. Urgh – I can’t even. SHOW ME THE MARKET RESEARCH ON THAT!! And I’ll show you some poorly worded questionnaires in a boardroom and a plate of dry muffins.

What women want? What humans want! RESPECT

One of the reasons I have worked for Talk About Creative for almost 4 years is that we understand that women are people too. Seems basic right? But when you are tailoring a marketing pitch to the basic message (“it’s good – buy it!”) it can be hard for some advertisers to break away from stereotypes – “we want to speak to everyone!” No, you don’t. You want to speak to a core demographic in a language which demonstrates you understand and respect them. And one of the cornerstones we’ve mastered here at Talk About Creative is empathy. Have I ever used a welding helmet? No. Do I understand that getting sparks in my eyes would be bad? Yes. Do I need to emphasise the gender of the person using the helmet to convey this? Nope.

My pitch to sell toilet cleaner

Sexism Sells Toilet Cleaner

To go back to the ‘women love toilet cleaner’ analogy, it’s not just how you interpret the data it’s also how you use it. So the market research found that primarily women buy and use toilet cleaner; probably definitely true. But the leap to sell ‘the most magical toilet cleaner which brings profound joy when used’ is a stretch. If it was that joyous and satisfying more men would be doing it. As a marketer I’d remodel the bottle in the shape of a water pistol and create a campaign around skid monsters from the planet Uranus to encourage all members of the family to eradicate them before they take over the bathroom. Now there is a fun and worthwhile activity for all the family! Further to that I’d create a branded toilet brush which made fart sounds every time you plunged it– who wouldn’t enjoy that?! Yes I am a genius but I have an Arts degree so I’m still trying to find my place in the world.

(Ed:  This stock image caption said “Attractive girl cleans toilet”  *sigh*)

Market like you flirt – enticing but not desperate

Please don’t market to everyone, it makes you look desperate. Ideally you want to create a brand which is the equivalent of the cool table at a party; exciting, fun, a bit intimidating but once customers get a seat they don’t want to leave and pretty soon you are all besties and doing tequila body shots or whatever. Even if you have the driest business in the world that is fine – even better! You have a secret language which you can use to talk to only the people who need you. Invent a secret handshake – you’ll need it. It’s not that hard to be good at this game when so many people are doing it wrong – just imagine your main customer as a cool fun person you want to impress and market to them.

So, what I’m saying is market to yourself, am I right?!

Women in Business


Talk About Creative knows your female audience

Our team has spent our professional lives marketing to women, especially successful women aged 25-54 with children at home. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve also helped sell everything from lawn mowers to diggers but we “get” women…

“We got up close and personal with the grocery buying, purchase researching, gatekeeping market; 25 – 54 year old Australian women, with 1.5 – 2 incomes and children in the home.”

Click Here to learn what we do differently and why it’s been SO successful for our clients.

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