April 9, 2007

"Some of what we've been hearing is that women would like to have a place where they can connect with other women..."

Says American Airlines in an email, directing me to their special women's page:
This web page is about you – our valued customer. We've listened to women like you and recognized the need to provide additional information tailored to your business and pleasure travel needs and lifestyle.
It's so Oprah-esque, there are even book recommendations:
We asked travelers what books they enjoyed reading on their last flight, and came up with a list of interesting, inspiring, and sometimes surprising suggestions. Here are our top five picks –

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim by David Sedaris
Snow by Orhan Pamuk
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Absolute Friends by John Le Carre
Oh, yeah, of course, we want inspiring. Got to have things for my soul. "Eat, Pray, Love." Or should that be Eat Airline Food, Pray, Love?

And butter me up for more travel by telling me about the charities you support.
As women, we naturally want to assist where we can....
Unlike those selfish men!

Let me guess which charity you support? Breast cancer research!
American Airlines is a proud sponsor of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Lean more about our sponsorship of the Komen Foundation and how you can get involved...
How did I get that? ("Lean more"? Where are my diet tips?)

I'm sorry, but I'm in a big rush to get to a meeting or I would mock this website more systematically.

You know how we women are so busy! And anyway, leave it to the guys to be systematic!


Scott said...

I would like to know a corporation that doesn't support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. It's presumably a worthy cause, but the foundation's name is becoming a corporate communications cliche for "we're pandering to women."

XWL said...

You know how we women are so busy! And anyway, leave it to the guys to be systematic!

Sorry, I'll do a lot for the sake of snarky comedy, but delving deeper into the site you describe is far more than I'm willing to endure.

cardeblu said...

Despite my 46XX chromosome status, I find that I have pretty much nothing in common with those who use such phrases as "As women, we naturally...."

Even the reading list is foreign to me and, imo, looks like it consists of insipid pap. Give me some Peter Hamilton or Larry Niven, please.

Beth said...

I want an affordable price. That's it. Fly me where I want to go for a reasonable price. That's it. Fire everyone you have working on these stupid marketing ideas and use the savings to reduce the cost of my ticket.

Ron said...

Why do Midwesterners like to fly?

Because of the food!

Peter Palladas said...

OK note this really well, because it's important and it's true.

Death and taxation - the two great certainties in life?

Wrong, there are three.

The missing third is that whenever an airline wishes to advertise its wonderful long-haul 'seat becomes a bed' facility, it shows a photograph of a reclining male executive right next to a woman.

She's asleep, he's smiling - can't wait for fantasy midnight mile-high nookie with a complete compliant stranger.

Every darn time they do it. I doubt he gets laid more than 1 in a zillion, but these advert dudes know what hits the button.

P. Rich said...

Coochie coo, snoogie woogums. Hey. At least they aren't handing out teething rings and cute little plastic toys to mature females. Yet.

Edgehopper said...

P. Rich--

Aren't fruity drinks and Oprah-esque book choices a close equivalent? Delta had expanded its drink selections last time I flew with them...

Bruce Hayden said...

Why do Midwesterners like to fly?

How about to get out of the midwest? Food is lousy now anyway, if you are served anything beyond crackers, etc., which is rare.

hdhouse said...

I'm either getting old or a little cranky or both....but I found the entire idea and execution a bit irksome...and I'm frankly put off by it. It isn't intended for me so it isn't my business but knowing that there is a "woman's (only)" after years of hearing about the perils of Men's only....

oh well.

Synova said...

My sister-in-law likes girl stuff.

For me, any marketing aimed at women is a pretty reliable way of knowing what I won't like.

"Peter Hamilton or Larry Niven"

Yes, or Stross if you haven't tried him yet. Bujold if you like Niven.

Suzanne Brockman for Navy SEAL sexy action adventure.

And if you know that traveling means you're completely brain fried, some Louis L'Amour from the nearest thrift store or a couple Harlequins.

Incidentally... I know that "women" like books that are good for their soul, but women read far more than men and read far more romance than anything else. Sales figures don't lie. And I realize that a whole lot of women don't want to admit it, but what is wrong with reading something *fun* on an airplane? Why does it have to be good for you?

Here's a generalization, for what it's worth... we don't give ourselves permission to do things that we can't justify as worthwhile. Men can get all passionate about things that are the biggest time and money sucks possible and women limit their hobbies to constructive activities or else they feel guilty for time wasted. Read something with absolutely no value? Heck, no. It's got to be uplifting. Fun just isn't good enough.

Oh, I suppose I'm wrong about that (maybe) because I'm sure that my SIL really does prefer her preferences.

It has suddenly struck me as weird that I don't consider brainless romance novels as "girl stuff". Maybe it's because Harlequin found out that women who watch NASCAR read significantly more romance than women who don't? Or maybe it's just that they are just as much about entertainment and escapism as a military thriller.

There's a time for efficiency and there's a time for *rest*.

I'm definitely in the "give me my ticket information, tell me how to claim my lost luggage and shut-up" side of the isle.

Peter Palladas said...

side of the isle

Isle or aisle? On my side of the Island Nic Kidman dances naked beneath the mango tree. On yours?

Jeff said...

Doesnt heart disease kill far more women? Wouldnt a women friendly company be kicking in some bucks there? Or, since it would also help men, be considered tainted?

SteveWe said...

Pandering is epidemic. It won't stop until the panderees take offense. I won't hold my breath.

Wurly said...

Well, since American Airlines doesn't think that I, as a man, am special enough to pander to, I suppose I will just fly U.S. Airways, which treats all of its customers like crap regardless of sex.

John Kindley said...

Scott said...
I would like to know a corporation that doesn't support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. It's presumably a worthy cause, but the foundation's name is becoming a corporate communications cliche for "we're pandering to women."

All this racing for a "cure" while hypocritically keeping from women knowledge of the most avoidable risk factor for breast cancer, the avoidance of which would be the most effective way for a woman to prevent breast cancer from occurring in the first place . . .

tiggeril said...

Frankly, I don't give a damn about my "sisters," but a specialty airline for people with manners? I'd give a kidney for that.

Synova said...


I do, actually, know it's not isle if I thought about it. Which I pretty much didn't.

The one that grates most when I see it is peak for pique.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Peter Palladas: Isle of Ewe.

ron st.amant said...

Please...I beg of you...for the love of all that is holy...
Do NOT give Oprah ideas about potentionally owning her own airline...I shudder at this thought.

Fen said...

Interesting marketing approach, esp when contrasted with female responses on this blog.

Good idea to target women -they have more education and capital than ever, more professionals jaunting all over the country on busness trips. And the ads on the site appeal to wives like my own who tend to micro-manage every aspect of our expenses, vacation planning, etc.

But horrible perception on the marketer's part [are they male?]. Their view of what appeals to the female client base is almost insulting - appeals to Katie Couric conformity, celebrity fluff, innane self-help chatter. When in reality, their client base is much more pratical and like our Beth:

Fly me where I want to go for a reasonable price. That's it. Fire everyone you have working on these stupid marketing ideas and use the savings to reduce the cost of my ticket.

and Synova:

give me my ticket information, tell me how to claim my lost luggage and shut-up

Cedarford said...

My wife and me love the pandering of niche marketeers working for the same company account. We get pandering ads targeting what they think they know about us. Plus, I get the Afro-American ads from checking off "black" on several questionnaires for the heck of it.


Me: Citibank is now a globally interactive firm with instantaneous access in 178 of 193 countries for the man who just can not wait on results..

Her: For every family Citibank is that caring friend you need. Women can count on Citibanks accomplished staff of professionals for ever need from setting up a child's 1st bank account to the investment advice successful women need for their independence and security...A portion is donated to the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer foundation.

Black "not" me: For over 80 years, Citibank firms have been instrumental in the black community in helping those in need start businesses, maintaining the bank accounts of civil rights leaders. Citibank has been with African Americans, every step of the way...Join us so we can help that march continue...

Of course, nothing is quite as delicious as the mail I got and continue to get after I registered and incorporated an internet services company as President and CEO under Delaware registry. Right before I realized the business model sucked and pulled the plug on the venture. But that registry list is sold, I guess. You would not believe the conference invitations, the home wine cellar addition and jet leasing brochures one gets - and the "personalized politician letters" asking for money - once you are thought to be a member of the Ruling Elite..

Anyone want a brochure or two for an underground wine cellar with built in climate control for valuable papers, collectables, or cigars? With an option for security doors so it can double as a "safe room"?

Albatross said...

I don't know about other cities, but, here in San Antonio, apparently you don't even have to "race" for the cure. We give you credit for just sleeping in.


Internet Ronin said...

I think American Airlines is not stupid enough to have a men (or men) design a campaign like this one targeted to women and doubt they did. After all, AA is just about the only American airline that has not gone through bankruptcy (although they undoubtedly will end up doing it just to remain competitive with all the bankrupt lines still flying: Delta, Continental, Northwest, USAir (2 times or is it three times now?), United (twice?).

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

American Airlines is not stupid enough to have a man (or men) design a campaign like this one targeted to women.

You're likely right. I just can't place my finger on the disconnect here. Maybe its the culture of the marketing crowd, assuming that we idolize Oprah/Couric fluff as much as they do.

Fen said...

Just realized what the ad campaign reminded me of: the car salesman who pitches the vanity mirror to female customers. Not a completely fair analogy, but that the feeling I'm left with.

Freeman Hunt said...

A lot of commenters believe that this marketing approach will be ineffective. I beg to differ. While it may not appeal to me (see my list of favorite movies) and many others, it will appeal to a huge swath of the female market.

Don't believe me? How is Oprah so popular? Dr. Phil? Lifetime? Oxygen? All of daytime television? Nicholas Sparks? Chick flicks?

That sort of approach to the female market has been enormously successful. It isn't American Airlines's fault--they're just trying to sell tickets.

hdhouse said...

Just in passing, I don't think you can tell if this advertising/marketing was male or female generated. Frankly I would bet it is male simply because males hold the numeric edge in the creative departments of agencies.

The ad copy is chock full of female interest words - in particular look at the middle bottom text box "lifestyles"...all buzzwords.

Some interesting issues can be found at: http://www.roadandtravel.com/traveladvice/biztravelsafety.htm

Peter Palladas said...

We've this American Airline advert in the newspapers: a long - clearly boring - line of polystyrene coffee cups in the middle of which are three terribly sexy glasses of Scotch (or something brown) which are labelled 'London - Boston' or somewhere.

So the message is? Three drinks gets you there? Works for me.

I like one [several] drink to get the plane in the air, another [a few more] to keep it there and a last [quite a lot more] for a safe landing.

The Scotch has ice in it, so presumably it's for the women?

Ann Althouse said...

I never drink on a plane. I've always assumed it would make me feel bad -- I mean worse.

Al Maviva said...

I would drop a comment here, but just about anything I could say to express my honest feelings about this, would make me sound like Archie Bunker on meth. So I'll just stifle.

Oh, and Cedarford, your business model didn't suck. The idea is to pull a lot of money from investors, pay yourself an exhorbitant salary and bonuses by passing it through your startup, squirrel enough away to live off the interest, then buy a combination wine cellar addition / cigar bar / safe room / home theater for your house and do a little business in it, thereby making it a business location which justifies having the now-failing dot com pay for it. When the dot com startup goes bankrupt, you then sit back and enjoy independently wealthy unemployment, by lighting a cigar, sipping a delightful Barolo (thanks, SockPuppet.com!) while watching "Snakes on a Plane" on the 60 inch HDTV in the ampitheater seating in your safe room. By the standards of personal enrichment, it could have been a very good business model. Just not a viable one once the capital is all burned through.

dmfoiemjsof said...

Reminds me of the classic Onion article:

"6,000 Runners Fail To Discover Cure For Breast Cancer"


Galvanized said...

OK, I'll have to admit this post made me laugh out loud *snort*!