The time has come for the industry to halt its wanton objectification of women.
Stop reading this post immediately and tell me what’s wrong? Yeah, right there! The attractive woman above, wearing whatever that is, using her sexuality to get me to buy that gear.
As a lifelong guitarist, I grew up with this kind of messaging in player magazines; from gear guides laden with scantily clad women showcasing product to advertising piled with innuendo. As the father of a 10-year-old daughter and aspiring musician, I’m disappointed with the ongoing objectification of women in the musical instrument manufacturing industry. As a marketer I’m blown away that, in the current economy, some brands are still using such tactics, which alienate almost 50% of their potential audience.
Even Guitar World, arguably one of the largest voices in MI publishing, has gotten the message. In March of 2016 they finally dismantled the infamous Bikini Gear Guide. This marked a huge shift in the way the industry is communicating to women and every music brand needs to take note.
Why it’s important that you stop now.
If you’re reading this post and identifying yourself as one of many manufacturers who employs these kinds of practices you should reconsider your tactics. Not just because we should be well past this kind of marketing but also because it could cost you. A little while back we talked about Generation Z and millennials. One thing these two audiences, the future of your brand, have in common is they are both socially conscious. What this means is that who you are is as critically important as the quality of your product. Gen Z is particularly aware of the state of the world and they’re committed to change. They crave brands that believe in what they believe in. If your brand communicates that it’s OK to objectify women you’re running a big risk. You could be on a path to excluding at least half of your audience, but very likely more, by showing it. They are more informed than any other audience; they’re paying attention, have loud voices and are social influencers.
What can you do?
A good place to start is by ditching the bikinis. More importantly, make it about the talent. There are so many great female guitarists, drummers and bass players out there. If you’re one of the lucky brands that have this kind of unsung talent in your stable, bring it front of house. Show your emerging audience and potential buyers that your brand is about skill and not looks. And remember not to identify her as a “female player.” She’s a player and her talent is above gender identification.
If you’re committed and want to take it a step further have a look at your copy. If you’re promising guys that they’ll “get girls” or be dodging panties onstage you’re just as guilty as the guys pushing product with supermodels. Speak to what really resonates with us–how will it help us play or sound better.
If you’re super committed take a look at your brand ambassadors. If you’ve got artists on the roster who are openly misogynistic with their lyrics or onstage antics you might want to consider removing them as part of your communications strategy.
Finally, showcase the pride you have in your product. You’ve spent a lot of time in R&D crafting a precision instrument. Let the world know why it’s so special in a way that makes sense to all of us as players. Go ahead and show us sexy gear—but hold the girls please.