Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Alpha Ads

I have a like-dislike relationship with the advertising industry in that I like the creativity, but dislike the manipulative undercurrents. I usually ignore any ads in newspapers and magazines and, whenever I have control of the remote, I mute the commercials that interrupt my Bravo and VH1 reality shows. But, as someone in my circle recently pointed out, most people aren’t anything like me - so the artistic predators have now set their sights on what their market research has identified as 3 new “types” of women:

The Indie Woman
Age: 28-34
Marital status: Single

Career-driven with a healthy dose of cynicism, especially when it comes to romance, she relies on her friends as influencers more than the man in her life. To that end, she's not afraid to talk about topics her mother shied away from (birth control, tampons). She's also not afraid to splurge on big purchases, especially online.
Biggest splurge: Designer clothes and accessories (bought for a bargain)
We recognize her as: One of the Yaz besties who “dish” on birth control over cocktails. The snarky Kotex tampon comedienne that makes fun of other tampon commercials. T.J. Maxx's Maxx-inista.

The Mom Achiever
Age: 35-45
Marital status: Married or in a relationship with a child

She's a high-powered career woman who contributes heavily to the household income, and may even be the main-breadwinner in the family after the recent "man-cession." Unlike the homemakers in detergent commercials of yesteryear, she isn't the family washing machine. She also places a premium on alone time, away from work and family, which is why you're not likely to see her forking over Stovetop to a table full of neighborhood kids.
Biggest Splurge: Gadgets, beauty products
We recognize her as: The successful female celebrity (SJP, Kelly Ripa, etc) in anti-aging skincare ads. The woman in the Tide commercial who hands her baby over to her husband to change the diapers. The lady who needs some Laughing Cow me-time every now and then.

The Alpha Goddess
Age: 55-64
Marital status: Divorced, widowed, or single

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, [there] is the single woman over 55. She's a smart investor that's as tech-savvy as someone half her age, and she's becoming one of the most powerful consumers in the country. Prepared to reap the benefits of her independence by spending more on her own self-improvement, the quest for dream-fulfillment makes this female prototype a target for vacation packages, luxury cars, home improvement and, notably, anti-depressants.
Biggest splurge: Travel, luxury cars, prescription drugs
We recognize her as: The woman in the Pristiq ads who has to wind herself up to sell antiques. Martha Stewart.

Other than the term “Yaz besties,” the only thing I love about this presentation of easily-targetable pigeonholes is that it’s ultimately a celebration of alpha women, and particularly the aging alpha women – a group that rarely gets its props.

My most cherished mentors have been women in the 55-64 age range. I’m happy to report that none of them are manipulable enough to allow commercial advertising to influence their decision-making about anti-depressants or any other Big Pharma products. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about their susceptibility to gimmicks involving cars or travel plans.


  1. I am an Alpha Goddess! Sixty-three and counting. Summary, it's all about me at this stage of my journey. By the way, no pills at all. Only vitamin C and multi-vitamins for me as of today. Tomorrow, who knows. Life is short, and extraordinarily beautiful. To the younger chicks, I would say, lighten up! At the end, all you will remember are the great and fun memories, no bad moments apply.

  2. I'm with you despising the mass manipulation behind advertising. Just the other day I was watching a KFC ad on tv... the subtext being that if you don't eat KFC you'll never be happy or beautiful. Which is ironic because if you do consume mass amounts of KFC, you wont be "beautiful" or happy ;P

  3. I don't seem to belong to any of these groups. I'm in the general age range of the Alpha Goddess (a little older), but I'm not single. I don't have money--definitely no luxury cars in my present or my future. I recall that in the 1960s and perhaps the 70s, there was much talk about Madison Avenue's controlling the American public. I do think that a shift has been taking place, and that now the bigger influence may be the celebrity culture, much of it tied to Hollywood and also reality tv. I read something interesting not long ago about advertisers: because the public is so blase about ads at this point--often, as Kadzi, clicking out when ads start to play--the race is on to find other ways to get attention. Sometimes they do this through sponsoring charity events, or giving away products in a spectacular manner, or whatever. I've always been glad I never had a desire to get a job at an ad agency.

  4. I'd think that being "in a relationship with a child" would land you in jail, which is a completely different and heretofore unmentioned demographic! *wink*