"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Smart Moms": When descriptive marketing becomes prescriptive

Next week is Father's Day, so the sale ads stuffed into the Sunday paper are full of ads for tools, polo shirts, cologne, bar accessories, and electronics for Dads. But what caught my interest in this week's Target ad, after pages and pages of Dad-defining messages, was this page that mentioned Mom:

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The caption reads, "smart moms know our prices are low", above a variety of images of pharmacy-type items, cosmetics, pet food, and diapers, which sends the message that (1) moms are the only ones who buy these items or (2) only moms are price-savvy and care about savings. Since neither of these things are true, I find it rather irritating when marketers invoke the ubiquitous "mom" in order to sell products. While they may be operating under the assumption that it's usually moms who are buying these products for their families, they implicitly reinforce the idea that moms should be the ones with this job, or that moms are somehow intuitively equipped (through their special mom-"smarts") to fulfill this task best.

5 comments:

Brooklyn said...

Wow--This is so crazy. A few weeks ago, I noticed that the clothing section of the weekly ad had something equally gender-deterministic: "lucky girl, you saved on style" for the women's clothes and, "great buys for smart guys," for the men's.

Ohh the things we can learn from target.

Kelly said...

It really pisses me off that Father's Day gift ideas include electronics, whereas Mother's Day gift ideas include movies, makeup and chocolate. Because, you know, women aren't smart enough to use computers and flat-screen televisions. We'd rather eat chocolate and watch Steel Magnolias anyway, right?

Tracey said...

Agreed. So much of the Mother's Day marketing sends the message that mothers need to take a break from all of their hard work, while fathers just need toys to play with.

plumpdumpling said...

I really am under the impression that men have no idea how to bargain shop, though. I'm totally the one figuring out how much body wash costs per ounce at CVS, while Kamran's the one simply choosing the scent that appeals to him the most.

I assume that this is because I have more practice at it, though. And also because he's not poor.

Tracey said...

Socialization, all the way!