Tom Jordan knows what women want

Tom Jordan’s new book, “Re-Render the Gender,” exposes the “vicious circle” at the heart of the advertising industry: women make or influence over 80% of all purchases, but men create 70% of all advertising.

The key to solving the disconnect lies not only in altering messaging, but also in changing the internal dynamics of a male-dominated industry, says Jordan, Hoffman York’s president and executive creative director.

Most creative departments will scorn the book, he feels. “If they do read it, they’ll just dismiss it with ‘oh, what does he know,’ because it will rock their world,” he says.

“Right now, some women in advertising are stuck in the ‘pink ghetto,’ creating only for female products. The only way to get out is by impressing men, and yet most of those ads don’t appeal to female audiences.

“Everybody is kidding themselves and continuing to ignore this huge market,” Jordan states.

Jordan, a 25-year industry insider, who got his start at Leo Burnett, founded The Kaleidoscope Group at Hoffman York as a dedicated business unit to address the gender imbalance

Four years of research and development at an estimated cost of $1 million was spent at detecting what resonated most and least effectively with women.

The results were an eye-opening, says Jordan. “We became a lot more sensitized to things that we would take for granted as men.”

One key discovery was the “Times Zero Effect,” referring to a threshold of taste. If the taste threshold is passed, women will no longer be receptive to a message, no matter what else follows.

Jordan sites a German TV commercial, intended to encourage women to shop online, as an example of how male-targeted humor is repelling the female market, but being rewarded within the industry.

The spot, recently listed as one of AdForum’s “Top 5” spots, depicts two women violently attacking each other over a clothing item.

“It’s a complete disconnect. We’re perpetuating a system that rewards poor messaging,” says Jordan. “I wrote the book to try to reverse this culture.”

Jordan’s book suggests that an internal culture fixated with awards and peer pleasing has stymied the ad industry’s ability to connect with female consumers. Not to mention a dearth of female input within creative department decisions.