22 June 2012

#sciencegirlthing: the PR guy's take

FINAL UPDATE AND THEN (MAYBE) I'LL LET THIS GO: It's great that the science/science comms community is stepping up with some references to role models, as the EC asked.  As important as that is, however, it's not the only thing we should do.  We have to remember that the primary audience for this campaign is not scientists, it's girls in the EU ages 7 to 13.  If I were a smart science person, I'd start reaching out to the advertising community - I'm a fan of my pal Liz Gumbinner, though (and this is a plug for my colleagues) the amazing team at Strawberry Frog would probably rock on this.  They focus on cultural movements, and that's exactly what we need here.

UPDATE II: An official word from the EC science comms spokesman:

This is a good move.  I also like this:

I've read that the campaign's target audience is girls age 7 to 13, or at least they held 5 focus groups of girls in that age range for something.  That's younger than the "millenials" category.  Looking at the video though, I still think it misses the mark for the audience.  The ad firm will likely look at its research methods.  Either that or I weep for the future.

UPDATE: The European Commission pulled their video (though it exists elsewhere).  Smart to eliminate that distraction.  Now they should focus on what their target audience thinks is important and demonstrate the relevance of STEM.  They'd be smart to ask the many critics of the video to participate.

The Twitterverse 'sploaded over #sciencegirlthing, a new campaign intended to encourage girls in the European Union to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.  They include some good profiles of women in STEM, but they also have this:

and I find it interesting that within minutes we learned that the ad firm that produced it also did this:

Scientists, especially female scientists, are not pleased. And the damage control begins, and frankly it's not good:

This video should be pulled immediately. It distracts from the central purpose of the campaign. It shouldn't be pulled simply because it's silly and offensive to many female scientists. It should be pulled because it's clear the video won't appeal to its target audience - millenial women. Millenals care about contributing to something greater than themselves. They don't like stereotypes.  They want to know that what they do produces results - quickly.  Makeup and glamour and all that are fun, but they're not what dominates your life. Millenials don't expect to be in a single job their whole lives.  Millenials want to know why whatever it is you're selling is relevant to them - in a meaningful way.

This video reflected none of the well-established research on what the target audience wants.  Instead it just re-purposed the strategy selling the smartphone app that lets you "take pictures of yourself" with soccer babes.

I think the EC went to an ad firm, and said, "we want you to make science sexy."   What they should have done is asked millenial women what was important to them and then tried to make the case that careers in STEM would help them achieve that.

This stuff isn't hard, people.

You want role models?  try #realwomenofscience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this is a very bad strategy. It's never good to repel the people you're trying to attract.

Not only should the EU fire their ad agency, they should get their money back plus damages.