Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cherchez la femme.

         Political correctness being what it is, the goat of commercials these days has to be a man. The husband has to be dumb, illogical, and always the learner, never the teacher.

         I have to admit it took me a long time to get it through my head that the pronoun of choice is "she". A lot of my early experience in advertising was in Detroit, where men are men and everything was "he". According to the auto guys, "he" chose the make, the model, and of course, the engine. "She", on the other hand, chose the color of the car and maybe the upholstery.

         This male orientation, along with the blindness to foreign competition, is probably responsible for the American car companies going off the road and getting in such serious trouble. Contrary to the auto makers' beliefs, the average man doesn't know any more about cars than the average woman.

          I still don't know what rack and pinion steering is and I was co-creative director on Chevrolet. When I was appointed to that job, the first thing I did was go to a bookstore at lunch and buy a book that could teach me all that stuff. It was called "A Woman's Guide to Automobiles", and written carefully enough to explain things to me. There were no books like that for men. It was supposed to be in our genes. I kept the book on my desk in case of emergency.

         At that time, I think there was only one woman at the agency working on Chevy in a prominent way, a Vice President and account executive. Her name was "Hap" and she was an expert on auto racing. I met her only once; she was always out on the racing circuit.

         Today, of course, women might outnumber men at ad agencies. Several agencies are headed up by women.

         I also think women are better than men at interviews. In my experience, women do their research, ask relevant questions, and are ready to land running. Some men, on the other hand, just want to know what the job can do for them --- benefits, salaries, days off, vacations, potential for raises. When I did a lot of recruiting, several men put their feet up on my desk, sighed audibly, and asked what an ad agency did. Not only didn't they do their homework, they never went to school.

        One time, I couldn't decide between two art directors. Both had the same degree of talent and experience, both ready to jump in and contribute to the agency. One, however, sent me a thank-you note after the interview, and that broke the tie. I hired her immediately.

        The guy, I guess, was being politically incorrect.

No comments:

Post a Comment