Why do marketing speakers think it's okay to be sexist pigs?
I was at a marketing conference yesterday and instead of coming away with some new ideas and inspiration, I came away mad. I thought (or at least hoped) that the old boys network only lived on in "Mad Men" episodes, but nope, it's alive and well.
Speaker after speaker (all male, by the way) used outdated gender stereotypes (men like sports, women like Grey's Anatomy!) at best and at worst were just plain offensive and oblivious to the fact that the majority of their audience was female.
For example, one presenter had a slide showing that the fastest growing group on some social network was women aged 55 and up. The visual he chose to go along with that snippet? A cougar. You'd think that a web savvy presenter would know that there's a huge backlash against the concept of older women as "cougars". You'd think that he'd approach an audience of generally older, professional women more respectively, wouldn't you?
I don't think that guy was out to offend the audience, he just wasn't thinking. The lunch speaker, however, was absolutely out to offend. The speaker was the brains behind the T&A GoDaddy.com ads. He was very proud of this fact. So proud that he decided to show the ads to the audience. So yeah, he stood up there in front of a group of mostly women showing an ad that was basically just exploiting women for some cheap laughs.
I'd actually be okay with that if his point was that even with changes in the marketing world sex sells or it's still worth going after the lowest common denominator or something like that. But it wasn't. His talk was all about "new affluents" and how they're more motivated by self-expression than status. So, his GoDaddy.com ad was the opposite of that. And again, I'd be fine with him showing it if he then talked about how now an ad for GoDaddy might be more about how it's a great tool for self-expression. But nope. He didn't even talk about the ad in terms of his point. He literally just showed the ad because he thought he was brilliant and he wanted to show off. He had no idea how much he had turned the audience against him.
As a woman who works in digital marketing, I've come to expect that a typical marketing leader is still completely out of touch with online marketing. I'm dismayed, though, to find that marketing leaders are still completely out of touch with the fact that over half of their peers are women and might be deeply offended by a tone which completely minimizes and alienates them.
I'm working with a group of former coworkers to start a blog that looks at the Dotcom world from a female perspective and also interviews various dotcom teams. I think after yesterday that another goal of ours will be to develop ourselves and possibly others into speakers that can better represent the real world of marketing.
Posted by kris at May 26, 2010 09:33 AM
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|# May 26th, 2010 10:39 AM james|
|He's a marketer. If his showing the ad got you talking about both him and Go Daddy, then didn't he do a great job? Even if he alienated half of the audience, or more, do you think it will a negative impact on his future job prospects? I don't think so. Maybe it's that we are so used to hearing about sexism and objectification of women that even though some of us may be offended, we forget pretty quickly. So while an overtly racist statement may spur a backlash, a subtly sexist statement gets a groan, an eye roll, and little more. |
|# May 26th, 2010 10:56 AM kris|
|If he were younger I think it would absolutely have a negative impact on his job prospects because with the way he acted no one, male or female, would hire him. The GoDaddy thing wasn't the worst part of his talk - his constant name dropping was, but I couldn't really get a post out of that.
I think women, especially women in the business world, are so afraid of being seen as a no-fun bitch that they go along with things just so they can be seen as "one of the guys".
I'm serious about female speakers though - I'd like to help make that happen.