In this article by Anne Marie Mohan, Packaging World, she reports on a TEDx talk given by Allison Koller, Executive Creative Director of CBX. CBX is a leading New York branding agency.
We have all seen the clichéd depictions of women in advertising in general and in packaging in particular. These depictions vary from unrealistic to downright ridiculous – for example, the “Stepford wife”- type Mom to the perfect-looking woman who has just finished a tough gym workout while she miraculously remains sweat-free and with her make-up intact and immaculate.
Allison Koller cites common codes (themes) used in advertising for women’s products, such as “magic” – products that make you look perfect, the “Ingenue” – a wide-eyed, Barbie-doll type who never ages, “The Modern Miracle Mom”—house in order, dinner on the table, perfect birthday parties, blogging about it all; and “The Exotic”— an all too common representation of women of colour as mysterious, sultry, or fiery.” The article states the packaging design often follows these clichés too – using tired, over-used graphic techniques such as using soft, pastel colours and floaty, curvy and nature images that are traditionally used in packaging of products that target women.
The overall thrust of Ms Koller advice to brands is that these stale clichés or themes will no longer work in marketing to women. She advises brands to get real with their advertising and packaging and depict women in way that allows them to be themselves and identify with the women presented in packaging or advertising.
She advises that the clichéd images are expected and therefore fade into all the other products on the retail shelf or on the TV. She gives examples of brands that have been very successful when they broke away from this traditional images – such as Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign, Bumble and Bumble hair care products and Benefit Cosmetics “strikes a tongue-in-cheek tone that doesn’t take beauty too seriously. Products like “fake up,” “benetint,” “high beam,” and “hello flawless” invite women in with humour, expressive patterns, and typography.” “
Ms Mohan concludes her article by giving the following advice –
“Packaging is a perfect place to bring a brand’s tone of voice to life. From claims to romance copy, it is a platform to authentically connect with women. Paired with unexpected visual cues—ditch the pastels and flowers—a new story can emerge. A story where brands get real and cut her a break, or challenge her with new ideas. There are as many ways to say, “I’m for you,” as there are women out there. Be a coach in her success, a rebel in a tired category, someone that is infinitely relatable, not just a goddess or ingénue. Would a rebel show up to a protest wearing a gold ball gown? Ensuring authenticity is essential to your brand’s success.”