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Retailers and manufacturers of sports equipment are missing a big opportunity by marketing solely to men. Women are a big market.

Women and Sports Advertising: Nothin’ But Missed Opportunities

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I recently read an article that was a great illustration of how marketers are totally missing the boat when it comes to what I call Marketing 101: Identifying your audience. If you think your product or service is for everyone, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

This article was written by a colleague who did a seminar in our little burb last winter. He’s clearly defined his audience: small sports retailers. He runs sales seminars and workshops, helping them become enlightened marketers and salespeople, creating stakeholders with a heightened customer focus.

Sports advertising is inevitably about and for men

He’s taking a look at the outdoors/sports industry—the stores, ads, trade shows, etc. and virtually all of these are geared toward men. What? The face of the sales force and marketing campaigns is a masculine one. But that’s not an accurate representation of the industry. They’re missing the boat on several fronts.

  • Women are the shoppers; they’re the ones who often do the shopping for the men in their lives.
  • Women are often very engaged in outdoor activities. They’re fishing and hunting, playing tennis, soccer, baseball, and basketball. They’re rock climbing and racing bicycles, running and ice-skating, boxing and fencing, etc. You get the idea. Women have become fiercely competitive; they’re active, aggressive and involved.

Change begins with every retailer along the food chain

So how else can outdoors retailers and manufacturers start recognizing that they’re missing a huge opportunity and a historically loyal market? It starts with every sports retailer on the food chain. Incorporate more inclusive events into their itineraries. Start hosting women-specific clinics. Make the outdoors seem approachable to novices, regardless of gender. Women may have felt excluded from a particular sport, so change that perception; make it approachable.

Manufacturers also need to step up

Like the retailers, manufacturers need to upgrade their products so they’re geared toward women. No neon pink, but not crazy masculine, either. Ad campaigns should feature both men and women. The current model is currently either for men or for women. But since we’re sharing the outdoors, men and women should be equally represented.

Stop qualifying women in the outdoors or in sports

Market to women as members of the group, rather than singling them out. As women integrate into all aspects of industries, their roles and populations will grow. It helps shape the industry for women moving forward. Creating better gear for women, for example, can impact the younger generation, the current generation, the bikes women ride, the opportunities they’re given. We shouldn’t be breaking down roles by gender or ethnic group. No more women CEOs or Latino CEOs. It has to start somewhere. Making sports neutral would go a long way towards leveling the playing field for women. It will also result in increased revenue for retailers and manufacturers.

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Procter & Gamble is a big brand with a big heart, but their latest is great: a traveling bathroom in NYC called Charmin Van-GO!

P&G Launches Charmin Van-GO, A Traveling Bathroom in NYC

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Procter & Gamble is one of the world’s biggest advertisers—as a result, their products fill households around the world–Downy, Tide, Bounce, Charmin and Crest. Yet they’re a big brand with a big heart and a conscience, and I’ve written a couple of articles about their video ads that have gone a long way towards supporting big causes. These days, we’re seeing a lot of this, and ya gotta love a big brand that’s not afraid to step up and do the right thing. P&G’s #LikeaGirl video a year ago was viewed by more than 38M people, and #WeSeeEqual video three months ago by 46K.

But now it’s June. It’s blistering hot with no end in sight. Like everyone else, I want to be on vacation. Lying somewhere with my feet propped up with nothing to think about but where I’m going to have dinner. Yet I’ve got work to do and deadlines to meet.

But I love this story. P&G has a new innovation that takes off from where its more rudimentary household products left off. P&G is now offering Bathroom Service in New York City!

It’s cleverly called Charmin Van-GO

And it’s bringing personalized bathroom service to select New York neighborhoods. The pilot is scheduled for just two days in June. According to the Associate Brand Director, “We’re always looking to bring people the best bathroom experience, both at home with our tissue and in new and unexpected ways.” It’s literally a bathroom delivered right to your footsteps. People on the go can avoid those random, frantic coffee-shop stops with Charmin Van-GO.

Traveling through NYC’s busiest—and now neediest–neighborhoods

With black-ish star Anthony Anderson onboard, Charmin Van-GO will travel through some of NYC’s busiest neighborhoods to bring bathrooms to those in need, while surprising and delighting people with bathroom humor along the route.

So my question is . . .

Is P&G serious about this or are they just having a little summer fun? Or is this something that could take off and start serving other neighborhoods, other cities? God knows the need is there. There’s no mention of the cost to use Charmin Van-GO or if there’s more than one van or plans for the future. There’s likely a place to wash your hands, using that old P&G classic, Ivory. I’m captivated by this. Most of all, I’m wondering if P&G is doing this as a whimsical summer fling or if they’re serious. A traveling potty. They could get an app . . .

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#weseeequal

The Power of Big Brands to Do the Right Thing

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When it seems like the whole world has dummied down, when we’ve had our fill of mindless ads, Procter & Gamble, a big, big brand with deep, deep pockets, a company that spends lavishly on advertising, releases an ad that is creative and smart with a message that has important social implications.

P&G steps up for women and gender equality

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, P&G released its latest gender equality initiative along with the #WeSeeEqual ad. This ad is a series of scenes showing men, women and children in everyday situations, interspersed with text, such as “Hugs don’t care who give them,” and “Equations don’t care who solve them.” It finishes with a woman telling a younger co-worker “Do it,” with the line “Equal pay doesn’t care who demands it.”

P&G launched its first annual citizenship report in 2016, outlining its aspirations to build “a world free from gender bias,” including initiatives such as “Share the Load” for its Ariel laundry brand in India, where it claims that 70% of men think household chores are women’s work.

At last year’s International Women’s Day, P&G hosted a panel discussion on unconscious bias, where chief brand officer Marc Pritchard stated: “What you have to do is make it conscious. We can’t gloss over it. You’ve got to dig a little deeper if you’re going to address it.”

Taking time out to take a stand

P&G, the company that owns huge consumer brands like Tide and Crest, reaches millions of people all over the world. But P&G just took a timeout from new product launches and merchandise plugs to take a stand on an important social issue, showing that there can be an altruistic side to advertising. P&G has taken on gender equality in the workplace, and they’ve created an ad that has now been viewed more than 50,000 times. This is a powerful ad that will likely receive thousands more views in its endless life on the web.

Not the first time P&G has supported women’s issues

But this isn’t the first time P&G has taken a stand for women’s rights. I wrote another blog about P&G’s #LikeAGirl campaign. The company did a brilliant job of harnessing the Olympic momentum and celebrating women athletes. Unfortunately, a lot of young girls drop out of athletics because they become self-conscience about their bodies or lose their confidence, and it’s a tragedy. Kids who are involved in sports form strong relationships that can last for a lifetime. They learn important life skills—how to be part a team, how to compete, how to win and lose. And of course, as P&G points out, sports help instill confidence in these young female athletes—something they’re going to desperately need as they get older and deal with the world we’re leaving them.

A video of young girls playing nontraditional women’s sports

The video interviews young girls playing sports—particularly those sports that have been traditionally considered suitable for men—weightlifting, boxing and rugby. These young girls clearly think that girls should not only be able to play rugby—a very rough sport—but also be captain of the team!

P&G calls for Olympic athletes and organizing committees to inspire a world where “every girl truly feels that she can play sports and will Keep Playing #LikeAGirl.” Of course this is a plug for Always feminine products, but the message is heartfelt and timely, and it’s never been more relevant.

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