What A Girl Wants

Here’s a tip: Getting a girl to desire your product isn’t that different from getting a girl to desire you. So if it didn’t work in your dating life, don’t try it in your print ad.

So says This BusinessWeek article about marketing to teenage girls. It was written by 3iYing, an all-female market and design strategy firm that specializes in marketing to girls ages 15 to 25.
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But the interesting part of the article is the deconstruction of this Jansport print ad.

What message is this ad sending a girl? It screams: “JANSPORT DOESN’T CARE.” Clearly the company isn’t looking to establish a happy relationship. Here are three negative signals that will turn girls off.
Start with arrogance. JanSport’s ad says, “Take it or leave it, sister. I’m a big brand already, and I ain’t changing for nobody. So stop being so hung up on looking cute. Just use this bag for your stuff, and zip it!” Well, excuse us, JanSport, but appearances matter to us! If we want an attractive backpack and you don’t deliver, we’ll search elsewhere. We’re looking to form relationships with brands that respect our priorities and put in the extra effort to meet us halfway. And sometimes that means working on your appearance.
Problem two, insensitivity. JanSport says, “I’m not your shrink, I’m just your bag. Your self-esteem and boy issues aren’t my problem, but I thought I’d bring them up just to push your buttons. Now buy me.” JanSport, why are trying to upset us? Boys and self-esteem are two top priorities for girls, so if you’re mocking these topics, you’re either cruel or just clueless. We don’t expect your bag to do miracles, but we do expect a little respect. We respond to care and compassion.
Finally, negligence. JanSport doesn’t seem to notice that its relationship with girls goes way back and, more important, that us girls have worked to overcome our first dull and ugly impressions. In fact, we’ve moved on to developed a happy decorative partnership. For years, we’ve prettied up JanSport bags with markers, patches, keychains, iron-ons, embroidery, and glitter. We love it when people appreciate our efforts to make things work. We want the same thing from a brand.

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About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.