Tuesday, 1 March 2016

HIT THE TARGET, MISS THE REST OF THE UNIVERSE by VALERIE LAWS

IDEAL MOTHER'S DAY GIFT!!! 
She gave birth to you, so show her you care with this thing for removing the dead skin off her poor peeling old feet. Yes, it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday in the UK, so there’s been an outbreak of ‘suitable gift’ ads, this one was on TV. I have seen in shop windows such things as kitchen waste bins, washing up bowls, and aprons displayed with ‘FOR MOTHERS DAY!’ signs, as if we’ve not suffered enough. On the other hand, when not scrubbing or throwing out rubbish, Mums are delicate creatures who can’t use anything unless it’s covered in pink flowers, even tools.
Flowery secateurs from M&S for when someone's about to be 'all thumbs' 

Like these secateurs: very useful, because when torturing one of your henchmen who’s been caught skimming off the top, it’s nice to have something dainty-looking to do it with. Of course there are masses of flower (though the prices are hiked up to their armpits for that weekend) and chocolate ads. Wimmins like chocolate, and cupcakes, and pink or lilac flowery tools. S’biology innit?

Resin meerkat family from M&S again. Because... erm...

They also apparently like meerkat statuettes. Now I’m a big fan of Sergei and Alexandr, the lovely gay couple from the Compare the Market ads, but I’d not really relish these bad boys yet there are quite a few of them about. We can all guess what Father’s Day will bring, beer tankards, slippers, golf clubs (all men play golf when they’re not using tools with no flowers on), things to do with cars (only men have cars you know)… ie stereotyped ideas, as if we’d all gone for another day trip to 1953. Stereotyping by marketing people really gets my goat (as long as the goat’s dressed by Cath Kidston).
Amazon suggestion for Mother's Day gift.  If your mother is an archaeologist maybe. 
Not only sexism but ageism too. Take a look at ‘Mother’s Day’ CD compilations – Tom Jones, Cliff Richard, Barry Manilow. Still, she could use it as a nice change for torturing the formerly known as ‘Fingers’ McGraw…

Which brings us to The New Day, a newspaper about to launch here in a mass of publicity featuring the word 'new' multiple times. They seem to think people have stopped buying newspapers made of dead trees because they can’t find one they like. I’d assumed it’s because they read everything online more easily, sooner, and free, but I wish them luck with this venture. However it is apparently aimed more at women though they seem to be playing that down now. They’ve stated that they are targeting people between 35-55, thus possibly alienating in advance everyone outside those ages and probably quite a few inside them as well as those men who are wary of 'more for women' buys. Does everyone of 55 have similar interests and do they all transform totally on their 56th birthdays?
Newspaper aimed at 35-55, because 'new' is not the new 'old'.
What’s this to do with ebooks and writing? Just that we might have a care that when ‘targeting’ a particular demographic we might be turning off huge numbers of people outside it. There might be lots of men who’d enjoy books about 30-somethings opening cupcake shops (men do make and eat cake) and moving to France, but are put off buying by the blizzard of pink and lilac strobing at them from the ultra-girly covers. Plenty of women don’t like this tendency either, though many of the novels so patronisingly called chick-lit are very well written, well plotted books. Ebooks however can reach new demographics, a fact revealed by the massive success of 50 Shades of Grey: women reported feeling less shy about reading spanking stories, as their Kindles didn’t shout their choices to the entire railway carriage. Similarly we can be careful about using age or gender stereotype in our blurbs and blog tours. Even if you hit the target, you can miss the rest of the universe.


Find out more about my various projects and productions on valerielaws.com (books, art installations etc)
Some of my thirteen books, including crime novels, are now on Kindle UK US, iBooks UK USKoboNook and more, on all platforms worldwide.
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12 comments:

Mari Biella said...

I know what you mean, Valerie - I suppose I'm part of the target demographic for what's usually called 'chick lit', but the moment I see pink covers featuring women with shopping bags I start to look elsewhere. To play devil's advocate, though, aren't these marketing ploys generally so successful because they're based on sound research about the (general) likes and preferences of men and women, different age groups and so on? It's impossible to produce something that everyone in the world likes, but if you can capture a large enough percentage of your target group you don't have to worry about that. Big companies don't throw money away if they can help it. But then again, we've all heard of the marketing campaigns that have gone horribly awry, so I don't know...

Susan Price said...

I agree with all you say, Valerie - and personally I prefer something chunky when torturing henchmen, in a colour that won't show the blood.

And yet, and yet - I was less than thrilled when my partner bought me a tyre-iron for Christmas, and a smoke-alarm for Valentine's last month. As he said, I needed both (well, in his opinion, I did.) I would have been so much more pleased with some girlie chocolate and some girlie whisky.

Jan Needle said...

Girlie whisky. now THERE"S a gap in the market! Also, for Mother's Day, my old mum (were she still alive) would really have appreciated some gin that didn't make her cry!

Catherine Czerkawska said...

I was offered a CD compilation of Daniel O'Donnell's greatest hits in a store a few weeks ago. Since i was buying Alice Cooper's greatest hits at the time (admittedly for someone else, but still...) it didn't seem like a wise suggestion. I too noticed that about the new newspaper and was irritated by it. But the changing tastes of the older demographic is, I suspect, something young advertisers haven't even begun to come to terms with. Our local 'over sixties' group is now a shrinking group of mostly well over eighties. Meanwhile, the over sixties who might once have been members in a previous age are still working, still pursuing careers, and/or sailing and setting off on adventures to Antarctica. I think the whole advertising and marketing industry is working on a set of outdated assumptions, and that goes for book marketing as well. Whenever I speak to groups of older people, for instance, I realise that they almost all have Kindles.

Wendy Jones said...

Marketing can be a minefield as the demographics and appeal change in a flash. What works one week may not work the next. You've grasped the essence of it brilliantly here

Chris Longmuir said...

Brilliant post, I loved it, and you are quite right that the market can be stereotyped. I think it's likely that marketing companies are populated by whizz kid 'geniuses', who simply have no idea that older people in the population were ever young. After all, many of these 'older people', and that's anyone 10 years older than them, were the rebels of their generation. Think about 'flower power', and not forgetting we were the ones who jived, jitterbugged, and rock and rolled. And do you remember the Teddy Boys with their quiffs and suede shoes. All these people are grandparents now, and they've swapped their suede shoes and winkle pickers for zimmers apparently. Maybe a pair of dancing shoes would be a better Mother's Day present.

JO said...

In spite of people like us jumping up and down and refusing to be stereotyped, the marketing people persist - so I can only assume that we are in the enlightened minority who can think beyond gender.

And as for Mothers Day ... Grrrrr ... Be nice to you mother once a year, help her with the washing up. Then the rest of the year you can leave her to get on with it on her own .......

Gerald said...

Flowers and chocolates is too with apron to wrap it up! Betcha mom is gonna love that.






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Lydia Bennet said...

Thanks for your lovely comments folks!

Dennis Hamley said...

I always seem to arrive when the blogger has thanked everybody! No matter. Lovely post as always, Valerie. And, speaking as one who has just crossed the 80-year barrier, an occasion which concentrates the mind wonderfully, I find I'm getting progressively more left-wing as I grow older when it seems that I'm supposed to be joining UKIP, and finding the only use for Saga, Age UK and the like is as sources of cheap car and travel insurance. Bugger Saga holidays. Sex and games for the aged? They wish. Marketeers just don't have a clue even though they run the world. Jan, your mum sounds like a great woman.

Lydia Bennet said...

And an extra thank you to Dennis!

Reb MacRath said...

Beautifully done, Valerie. It's a minefield we all must all walk, in danger of losing some tootsies, or worse, whichever turn we take. 'Jack be nimble, Jack be quick...'?