Sexist Marketing to Women: The Nine West Edition
August 5, 2014
I get that Banana Republic did a Mad Men Collection but to actually take the sexist tone from the era and not just the style shows how out of touch some marketing executives really are when it comes to women. Wow-Nine West really has women all figured out, don’t they? All we want is a the “starter husband” and a kid according to their latest campaign.
We have to “hunt” down our prey and wearing animal prints will somehow get us in touch with our “spirit animal” all for a mere $99. And wait? According to their list women need a little black dress (L.B.D.) to snare a man and their woman in the ad is wearing pants! (The humanity!) Well that’s enough inconsistent and contradictory language to action for me to run their demeaning an insulting campaign through The Sociopathic Business Model™ .
And lucky us ladies, they’re helping us right along because after we pin down Mr. Right the next logical step is with the first day of kindergarten footwear (very sensible to boot or err shoe boot). Anyone else wondering if “PTA Ballet Flat” will come with a side of “My First Affair Fuck Me Pumps?” Because this is after all by their own assertion the “starter husband”. Wow. Just. Wow. I bet a few of us have ideas for a shoe designs for the “Executive Ass Kicking” Collection; but, don’t expect to find that one at Nine West or their sister company Boutique Nine-and don’t expect to find most self respecting women buying into this campaign Nine West.
Below is the letter I wrote to Nine West:
My name is Melayna Lokosky and I write a blog, Killing My Career (www.killingmycareer.com) which focuses on consumer, patient, employee and taxpayer advocacy which often exposes illegal or unethical corporate behavior and prior to that I worked in sales and marketing for startup surgical/medical device for fifteen years. I came across your site today via Consumerist which correctly highlighted the problems with the most recent Nine West Campaign.
When I started my career there were three women in the entire sales division out of 85 representatives; and, women like myself had to work twice as hard to prove that we deserved to play in the man’s world. I was told more than once by superiors that I was “taking a good job from a man,” or that I was “wasting my womb,” on a career.
An ad campaign that focuses on finding “The Starter Husband” or “First Day of Kindergarten” undoes any work women in the workplace have fought desperately to change. Nine West is part of the problem and not part of the solution. In 2012 EEOC violations were the highest in U.S. History with retaliation, racism and sexism claims to support that we still have a long way to go. If a company is willing to not recognize the rights of all their employees (or customers) it is a trigger that the company is possibly employing tactics from The Sociopathic Business Model™. The sexist campaign coupled with Nine West PR “gals” (twitter handle) is a good indication of how Nine West views women as if it were still the 1950’s and not 2014.
Second to when a company uses inconsistent and contradictory language to action it’s a trigger to do Case Study on the company to allow readers to decide if they want to support a company or not based on the facts.
The ad states that a woman along with other things needs a little black dress to snare a starter husband; and, yet the ad shows the woman wearing pants. This could easily be dismissed as just what looked best in the ad or it could be inconsistent and contradictory language to actions. Each person reading the site is meant to determine which of these characteristics they see that apply to any given situation. The Nine West ad campaign to me personally conveys:
Lacks shame remorse or guilt (it was discussed on the Today show-with no comment from Nine West)
Lack of accountability
Creates hopelessness in consumer (and this consumer also found it to be demeaning an insulting)
Prior to my leaving my career I purchased a few pair of Boutique 9 shoes; but, mainly purchased from designer sportswear collections and am not your target customer*. However, young women in college who or aspire to one day purchase designer sportswear look to bridge brands for purchases, just as I once did . When starting out Kenneth Cole and Bandolino were brands I purchased.
While working my way through college I worked at Saks as the Chanel Ready-To-Wear Specialist as was exposed to designer sportswear but rarely could afford those items and often opted for bridge brands like Charles David or Nine West. The Nine West Campaign insults all women (past and future customers) and violates the first rule of marketing: know your market. This is enough information for me to decide not support Nine West or Boutique 9 until they issue an apology, pull this ad campaign and replace it with a woman positive campaign that focuses on real women working (from stay at home moms to the Board Room). Please let me know if there are any updates to this campaign.
And the less than accountable response from Nine West:
*To the readers: By recognizing that I am not their current customer is not meant to demean and insult their current customers it is meant to take away any excuses that companies often resort to when deflecting accountability (same for recognizing pants in the shot could have just looked better for the ad, but it is also inconsistent and contradictory language to action). When using the model against companies anticipating responses is part of creating a successful outcome of forced accountability. Thanks for reading!