One of my dearest early-career mentors, Len Ellis, formerly EVP of strategy at WCJ, offered me some time ago one of the best metaphors to describe what’s happening at a macro-level in today’s marketing landscape. He suggested we are moving out of a long period of masculine aggression, characterized by targeting, disruption and interception. And we’re moving into a more nurturing, motherly period, characterized by discovery, embracement, affinity and mutually beneficial relationships. We often talk about pull versus push marketing, but I think Len’s gender metaphor is much more accurate!
Well, it just dawned on me this morning during P&G Chairman and CEO A.G. Lafley’s keynote at the ANA Marketing Masters conference that the world’s largest advertiser has succumbed to this reality. How do I know? It’s really quite simple. Nearly every single one of Lafley’s references to the consumer and customer was in the female context: she, her, mom and so on. This may be standard at P&G, based on the prominent target of its stable of brands. But, generally speaking, in a high-level speech to a massive audience of senior marketers, this feminine characterization of the consumer is perhaps more significant than all the talk about “letting go of control.”
My colleague, Pete Blackshaw, a former P&G guy, says P&G has always focused on mom, she, females. That’s their target so they pay proper hommage in speeches. Still, I think my point stands, or I’d like to think it does.