THAT NOT-SO-FRESH FEELING

I entered the advertising industry at about the same time that women began to play a much bigger role in the field. It was long enough ago that the only way for a woman to break in was behind a typewriter (yes, we still used those) as a secretary (yes, we still called them that). I don’t ever remember men being asked about their typing speed during job interviews.

As in so many other fields, the old boys were terrified about the effect these chicks and broads would have on their profession, but looking back, I think that women may have been the best thing to happen to advertising.

I don’t believe that it’s a coincidence that the arrival of women coincides with a move toward advertising that’s more human and based in real-life, and away from shtick and corny slogans. There was a recognition that the words “yeast infection” could be spoken on TV without blinding the millions of viewers who were heretofore protected by ads such as the memorable one where a teen asks her mother, “Have you ever had that not-so-fresh feeling?” (men instinctively knew that women have these conversations) or made-up conditions such as “embarrassing feminine discomfort.”

Instead of housewives screaming excitement at the strength of a new toilet bowl cleanser or running to the backyard barbecue screaming “Open Pit!” and subsequently falling into one (yes, that was a real commercial), we got to see realistic glimpses of life and how the products gave us all more free time and more enjoyment.  Most of all, consumer product ads moved from slick and cheesy to something more honest and believable, and I’m convinced that that never would have happened if men still controlled the business.

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