If You Want to Successfully Market to a Woman, Don’t Treat Her Like One


“At last, a vacuum campaign that defies gender and every stereotypical demographic” states Barbara Lippert in her Creative Critique for Adweek.

I absolutely agree. This ad is funny, touches familiar emotions and connects with women. One of the most important things to remember when marketing to women is, if executed appropriately, it will appeal to everyone.

Unfortunately, I found the “Soul Mate” ad, shown here, to be the only one of the four produced for Hoover Vacuums’ Clean Freaks Rejoice campaign that really works for me. The other three: “After Party”, “Wedding” and “Street Sweeper” seem to miss the mark. I guess since there are three of them, “Soul Mate” is the odd one out in this campaign. And that’s too bad, because I feel it’s definitely the best of the series.

“After Party”, “Wedding” and “Street Sweeper” present a woman as the main character, each having varying degrees of stereotypical female traits – anxiety or neurosis. I especially disliked the way the woman is portrayed in “After Party.” She is found cleaning house long after all the guests have left. Turns out it’s not her house when the hosts show up in the dark house, in their pajamas and ask her to leave. A little creepy for me and just not funny. The other two weren’t quite as bad, but they were equally unfunny. I applaud Hoover Vacuums for trying to do something outside the typical happy, perfect woman cleaning the house scenario with the Clean Freak Rejoice Campaign. But my advice is if you are going to poke fun and present women as neurotic, disturbed and obsessed, at least get it right on the humor.

To see the entire Clean Freak Rejoice campaign. Click here.

Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

6 Responses to “If You Want to Successfully Market to a Woman, Don’t Treat Her Like One”

  1. I agree with you. “Soul Mate” ad is the only one which can express the idea with a good taste. The other three show a histerical woman.

    At least, this brand is trying to create different campaigns for women.


  2. I agree here as well. I find most advertising to “woman” to be highly offensive to me personally. The Bounty paper towel ads, Swiffer ads…all to the “mom” who does all the housework while the dad and kids look on lovingly. Gag me. My dad did just as much with regard to chores and child care as my mom and I do not want to be marketed to as a stay-at-home do all the cleaning mom. I am a professional woman. And don’t those types of ads just reinforce the horrible stereotypes that women in our society should do the cleaning, etc. because that is what we are most concerned with? Terrible…sends the wrong message to men as well in my opinion.

  3. I also agree and would go one step further re: the “What were they thinking?@#!” trend in marketing in general, demonstrating that people who use the product are rude, crude, stupid, illogical and/or behave badly–hardly the “if I buy the product, I can be like that, too” role modeling of the past.

    The other thing I like about the “Soul Mate” ad is that is shows the range/dichotomy of housekeeping styles; that not every woman is a clean-freak; that one can chose; and, that by seeing such a side-by-side comparison, those of us who are not clean-freaks can see a brief glimpse of the value and yes–that there is hope–of cleaning up our act. (With a Hoover, of course.)

    I don’t need a commercial to lecture me on how to behave, but I might be more inclined to buy a product that promoted good sense and decorum by it’s proposed users. As it stands now, I rarely buy a nationally advertised brand.

  4. hmm…. it’s my understanding that focus groups and test audiences are used when larger companies such as hoover select their advertisements. i don’t think hoover’s goal is to redefine stereotypes or assumptions, but rather to sell a product. For some reason those ads did well with test audiences of the brand’s most significant buying demographic, and correct me if i’m wrong, but i would assume that demographic is probably women.

    i feel like the attitude expressed in some of the above comments suggest that advertisements and marketing should perform the role of selling products as well as social reform?

    i do agree that companies should be more responsible for their advertising, but i would prefer a transparent, info-rich ad over a politically correct brain mush ad any day. I don’t think it’s the ad that is offensive, but the women who continue to play-up and reinforce an offensive behavior.

    Sort of like me saying i am offended when i see beer commercials whose only message seems to be that if you like large breasted bikini models you’ll love our beer. But then how many thousands of men see that commercial and think, man i need that beer. Kind of silly right?

  5. Hoover Platinum – boo. Just boo. Don’t try to make a vacuum sound like expensive jewelry and please don’t depict women in evening attire pushing a vacuum.

  6. […] a flipside to overusing the ‘emotion card’. When Hoover vacuums launched their ‘Clean Freaks Rejoice‘ campaign on YouTube, the company’s aim was to emotionally connect with women who were […]

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