Gender and marketing continues to be an interesting conversation. We believe that the issue isn't as one-sided as people would like to believe.
But first, why are we bringing this up?
Verily Magazine, a magazine in print and on the iPad, launched in 2011 because the founders saw a disconnect with female-oriented magazines and the women they serve. They offer Verily Magazine, because based on its website, they want their magazine to be "less about what you should be, and more of who you are." They even have a "no Photoshop" policy, and refuse to use "professional" models (and using non-union models/actors/actresses is a whole other mess).
The founders have taken hold of — with many others — the premise that current magazines and advertising are one-sidedly creating images that negatively affect the personality and overall happiness of women. And now it is not just women. Though the conversation isn't as popular, in the latest survey about men, it was revealed that they feel that advertising and magazines are misrepresenting them.
We adhere to the theory that magazines would change their content, their advertisers, their messages, if the majority of their audiences voiced their opinions and took their business elsewhere. If they truly believed that women (and men) want more information about who they are, and not who they should be, the research and purchasing habits should reflect it.
It doesn't seem to be the case. Let's not get it twisted; those who want real change in how advertising reflects society and gender roles are quite loud. But those who are habitually purchasing these magazines, and are either buying in to the norms AdLand is pushing or totally desensitized by them, are speaking with their wallets. Obviously, the advertising goes where the money does.
We think Verily Magazine is cool; women who want to read and see "real women" should. But the conversation about real beauty, real women, and real societal norms is not even close to over. It is exciting to be in an environment where we are seeing norms being argued, discussed, and challenged.
And whether you like it or not, you have advertising to thank for that.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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