Technology was meant to make life so much easier. Paperless offices. Cheap communication tools. And, of course, robot vacuum cleaners. But instead we're lonelier, more stressed and getting our hair eaten by our electronic assistants. Woman's Day has noticed this shift as well, so, as part of a big—and quite rare—$1.5 million campaign via FCB, it's foisted a Zsa-Zsa Gabor-esque character upon the nation in an effort to give its readers permission to take a break without feeling guilty about it.
Womans' Day editor Sido Kitchin says the campaign, which features the tagline '30 minutes of fabulous', is based on the shift she has noticed in her and her readers’ lives recently: women are struggling to cope with the host of different demands imposed upon them and aren't taking time out for themselves.
She made sure it wasn’t just a sample of one and conducted some research among Woman’s Day’s target 25-54 audience through Bauer’s 3,500-strong All Women Talk panel. And her hunch was proven correct, with many of the respondents just happy to be asked how they're coping.
"Whether they have children or not, the response to the survey was similar: women are feeling overwhelmed by the constant juggle of trying to do too much, and it seems it’s always their own needs that suffer as a result," she says.
There has been a rising awareness of the danger of busy-ness and the importance of mindfulness recently, with the likes of Arianna Huffington extolling the virtues of 'sleeping your way to the top' and a number of businesses realising they stand to improve productivity if they make their staff switch off. But she says none of that was really speaking to the Woman’s Day reader so it approached FCB about a year ago.
She says the agency didn’t come back with a number of ideas, it came back with one idea that turned this serious issue on its head and gave women permission to think about themselves for a change. And she reckons "they nailed it."
FCB's executive creative director Tony Clewett says Bauer has relied on quite traditional retail activity in the past and focused on promoting new issues. That's had limited success, he says. So they were really trying to find a better way and make the magazine more relevant and give it a real point of view. Enter Yelena.
While not necessarily representative of a typical New Zealand woman—or a typical Woman's Day reader—he says using a "purposefully OTT", slightly eccentric, "probably had a couple of husbands" character of unknown Eastern European provenance, is about being bold and trying to get some real cut-through.
"Modern day women are under a huge amount of pressure. We expect them to run the house, have great careers, predominantly take care of the children. They have more expectations placed on them. There’s a sense they have to be super women, as clichéd as that sounds. So there was a role for the magazine to play, to give them permission to think about their own well-being and show that it’s okay to switch off."
He says the campaign is trying to walk a fine line between outrageous and tacky and bringing attention to a serious issue, and because each of the ads is based on a human truth, like everyone's friends on "the book of faces" pretending their life is better than it actually is and therefore making everyone think they've got boring lives, he feels these issues are discussed quite strongly in her own distinctive way (despite rumours to the contrary, he says ads were not shot at Bryan Crawford's house).
Not too many brands mention death in their ad taglines. But Kitchin says Yelena's ‘nobody die’ is about being brave and bold (and potentially tapping into the increasing number of oligarch wives visiting New Zealand on super yachts). It could also be taken two ways: 'let me have a break or someone will get hurt', as seen with what Clewett calls the "subtle innuendo" involving the carrot chopping, or 'if I have a break, it’s no big deal'. And, given FCB has proven to be quite adept at creating catchphrases with its ads, she hopes Kiwi women might start using this one too (the ad screened on Sunday but Kitchin says it showed them to the merchandising teams around the country, many of whom are in its target market, last week and they loved it).
As for the '30 minutes of fabulous' phrase, she says the average Woman's Day reader reads for a lot longer than 30 minutes, but in a world that’s often determined by an Outlook calendar, trying to convince them to take 45 minutes off was seen as being a bit of a stretch.
According to Aztec supermarket data, Woman's Day is in the top 45 most bought items and ranked within the top 40 for dollar sales within supermarkets, but, in comparison to some of the other products in that group, the amount of money it spends on marketing is paltry. So while Kitchin isn't saying this campaign will reverse the steady decline Woman's Day and the other weekly magazines have been battling with over the past few years, she does believe it will steady the ship.
She says she's been wanting to do a big marketing campaign for a few years now, but the marketing budget is usually the first thing to go in times of economic pressure. But Bauer has shown a willingness to invest in marketing—and in magazines in general—and, as opposed to retail efforts, Kitchin says Yvonne Bauer has said that brand campaigns show that the magazine understands its readers and can do a good job of convincing them that it’s worth the cover price.
And while this campaign is still focused on paid-for print, she says it is confident the campaign will also rub off on its website, which was launched last year and has experienced good growth (it's thought Bauer New Zealand will be following Bauer Australia’s formula with a series of digital hubs based around love).
At a time when magazine publishers are under pressure here and around the world from the shift to online, it's a bold move to invest this much in an above the line campaign. But Kitchin says there's a bigger job for this campaign to do for Bauer and the industry in general because if readers don't make time to read, they won't have a business (The Wall St Journal's latest campaign also focuses on finding time to read).
"The message is true of any magazine ... We want to reignite the whole category," she says.
And she believes investing in a campaign like this also sends a good message to its advertisers.
"Ad teams at Bauer relay on people believing in the power of advertising, but we haven’t walked the talk. So finally we are."
The campaign stretches across TV, radio, online, outdoor, mobile and social. And Yelena will also be making an appearance instore (not in person, unfortunately) on trolleys and on shelf.
The campaign also extends beyond advertising. It has been running a women’s panel on Good Morning with a range of high profile women weighing in on the discussion, which Kitchin says has been received very well, and it has dedicated a number of editorial pages to the mission under the sub-brand ME-volution.
ME-volution spokesperson and life coach Sarah Laurie, who is joining Woman's Day with a ten-week course to help women find a more balanced and happy life, said in a release that she believes fixing the guilt factor will have a major impact.
“If we can help women to stop feeling guilty about looking after themselves, then hopefully they will be more comfortable taking time for themselves. So many of the questions I get from women are about how they can help others. We need to have this much concern for our own well-being,” she says.
Insights from the study revealed the tension points in the lives of New Zealand women including:
- More than half of mums working full-time say they work because they have to, not because they want to.
- Almost a third of New Zealand women feel resentful towards the amount of domestic chores they do but see them as a fundamental part of their lives.
- Despite increasing numbers of women in the workforce and working longer hours 64% of women said they were responsible for most of the household shopping.
- 63% of those with children at home agree they do most of the parenting.
- A third of mums working full-time pay for home help, mostly in the areas of child care.
- 50% of women using social media feel constantly connected and one in three say Facebook makes them feel like everyone else’s life is more exciting than theirs.
- 55% of women believed there were too many expectations of them, and that “having it all” was an unrealistic idea.
- 65% agreed they were happy with their commitments, but would like more time to themselves.