— Nine West (@NineWest) August 1, 2014
Every woman owns a pair of Nine West shoes. I would bet a whole dollar on that. So you would think the company would know a thing or two about this demographic. Or at least what they do in their shoes. Their latest marketing campaign indicates they do not.
For their latest, they’ve accompanied some glamour shots of their shoes with phrases like the one above. Or a picture of flips flops in a handbag with the phrase “Anticipatory Walk of Shame.” Not cool.
Of course, the ads are sparking backlash. Ad Age editor Abbey Klaassen says here that she thinks the campaign could help the company because at least people are talking about them; basically the “there’s no such thing as bad PR” argument. But generally, when a company’s ads or social media activity goes viral, they don’t want it to be because people are calling the company “offensive” or “stupid.” The fact that Nine West hasn’t commented on the criticism indicates either they want to wait for it to simply die down or they actually do regret the decision to go forward with this mush.
The bigger issue is that the ads are tone deaf in a way that indicates they may not be fully aware of who the “modern woman” they’re targeting really is.
Modern women are looking for things that will make the rigors of their day a little easier, a little more snazzy and as enjoyable as possible. That could mean hanging out with friends, running to meetings, taking care of children, or any number of other things. The emphasis on getting a man is, as one commenter in that Mashable story notes, really old fashioned.
It’s clear that Nine West wanted to be funny while also reflecting the woman who — let’s just say — knows what she wants and will go out and get it. Maybe whoever came up with the ads saw a couple of episodes of Inside Amy Schumer and thought they could do their best impersonation in a shoe ad. #Fail. Though the shoesare pretty snazzy.
The problem is the message lacks the part where they acknowledge that they’re just joking. They were striving for something that’s fashion-forward and confident and aspirational with a little wink and nod to some of the sexier aspects of life. But they left out the wink and the nod. Their shoes sound like they’re for the desperate lady troll who just wants to have a warm man body to call her own. And what about the ladies who aren’t into men at all? Once again, very out of step Nine West. (You see what I did there?)
In the CBS clip, you hear Gayle King say, with reference to the “walk of shame” ad, “Some would call it a victory lap.” Good for you Gayle King with your cheeky self. That’s how it’s done.