TELEVISION / York on Ads: No 40: Woman magazine

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The Independent Culture
WOMAN magazine, like its IPC stablemate Woman's Own, has steadily been losing readers since the Sixties, when it sold over two million copies a week. It now sells less than a million. The problem is that the centre is not holding; definitions of women's interests have fragmented and a host of more targeted titles, focused on anything from great hair to power-dressing for the 50-plus, have been launched.

Woman is currently promoting itself by saying that it has changed, changed so much as to be amazing, and by exhorting women: 'Don't miss out on what Woman's all about.' This ancient approach - we're not as boring, down-market or old-fashioned as you think - is a staple of truly uninspired advertising. It rarely achieves its objective, of destabilising negative feelings about the product and making lapsed users reconsider it, because it compounds the negative by reminding people what was wrong in the first place - and because it's so obviously a substitute for change. If there are real developments, why can't you show them? The look-how-we've-changed line conveys a total lack of confidence.

In the commercial, pleasant-looking thirtysomething C1/C2 housewives jig about to a sub-disco track, doing things designed to show the range of their interests. They drive cars, they referee football, they go to places that have Chippendale-ish waiters.

But what this doesn't hint at for one moment is work or men. This is an utterly traditional women's world - the burden of children without the narcissistic pleasures of great hair. There's nothing Wendy Craig couldn't have done in Butterflies.

And, of course, as with all classic naff advertising, there's a pass-the-parcel sequence, which ends up cutting in on the excitement of a pathetically grateful mousewife, actually getting her copy of Woman. This one really has every cliche in the book.

Videos supplied by Tellex Commercials.

(Photographs omitted)

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