Why Can’t Car-Loving Moms Get a Break?

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My Other Car Is A Camaro – Why Can’t Women Get A Break?

You can’t turn on a television without seeing car ads, and when it comes to car ads there are really only two types:

1. Ads that portray buyers who are concerned about safety, features, fuel economy, etc.
2. Ads that portray cars in a sporty, performance oriented light.

To my eyes (and perhaps my eyes are biased as a result of the fact that I’m a male), TV ad format number one is directed at women, while TV ad format number two is directed at men. Let me tell why I think that’s fundamentally screwed up.

Women Buy Most Of The Cars On The Road

As someone who worked in car dealerships for nearly a decade (mostly as a sales manager, but also as a salesperson and finance manager), I feel qualified to say that women buy almost all cars. Even in situations where a man is buying a car by himself, there’s usually a woman somewhere who has signed off on this purchase. Setting my anecdotal evidence aside, R. L. Polk found that 80% of automotive purchase decisions are made by women.

Frankly, women ought to be in charge of major purchases. Studies have shown that women are better at making financial decisions than men. While this isn’t to say that men aren’t capable of making good financial choices (they are), the point is that there’s a rationale to explain why women buy most of the cars on the road today, either directly or indirectly.

Therefore, if women purchase and/or sign off on most vehicle purchases, why aren’t most TV ads directed at women? This Kia commercial, for example, portrays sexy fembots taking violent action against the proverbial tire kicker:

I’m no expert on women (not even close, in fact), but I fail to see how this ad appeals to them. This seems like a contrived male “hotbot” fantasy turned car commercial. At best, it’s weird.

This Dodge Dart commercial is another great example. The male narrator puts a male race car driver behind the wheel of a new Dart and shows him doing a bunch of ridiculous, irresponsible things in the name of “testing for fun.”

To my eyes, this is a male-oriented ad that’s trying to portray a pretty basic economy car as some sort of sports car. Since women buy cars, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. What’s more, why can’t we see a woman in this ad somewhere? Woman can test a car for fun as well as men, can’t they?

Women Like To Drive Fast Too

There’s nothing that keeps a woman from racing. In fact, a lot of women – Danica Patrick, Simona De Silvestro, Susie Wolff – are quite good at it. While I acknowledge that most of the women in my life have little interest in racing, I’m of the opinion that this is as much a result of stereotypes as anything else.

For decades, we’ve all seen male-oriented ads for performance vehicles. Perhaps as a result of these ads, our society has accepted the stereotype that men like to drive fast. What’s more, because we haven’t seen many female-oriented ads for performance cars, perhaps our society has accepted the stereotype that women don’t like to drive fast…and that’s a shame.

women buy cars,sports cars

As a wanna-be racer myself, I must confess that driving fast is a blast. I wasted many nights in my teens and twenties at the drag strip (or, unwisely, trolling city streets) looking for a good race. There’s nothing quite like hitting all your shifts perfectly and pulling away from the car in the lane next to you. It’s a blast. Women should be just as encouraged to do this sort of thing as men are, and I think it starts with asking car companies to broaden their advertising.

I’d also like to point out that a lot of women actually enjoy driving fast, and that they deserve to be marketed to just as much as men. Women (many of whom are Moms!) own and drive Camaros, Corvettes, Mustangs, WRXs, etc.

The fact is, the status quo doesn’t make sense. It’s time for a change in automotive advertising, one which recognizes the import role women play in the purchase decision, as well as the fact that many women love racing as much as the next guy (or gal).

Author Jason Lancaster is the editor of AccurateAutoAdvice.com, a website that helps car owners make the most of their vehicles. When Jason isn’t racing, he’s writing articles like this one for GMPartsOnline.net, a website that offers OEM GM parts online.

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About Author

Jennifer Regan is the owner/editor-in-chief of Eighty MPH Mom, a family-friendly blog. She is active in Brand Ambassadorships and campaigns, and is active in social media, helping brands promote!

6 Comments

  1. Christine M on

    I think those Kia commercials are the dumbest ones out there. If it were a male robot who beat up a female that kicked the cars tires all heck would break loose. I too feel the need for speed and am encouraged by my kids to “go faster Mommy!” ;). I currently drive a minivan but used to drive my Mom’s mustang and man ohh man those were some great times. I told my hubby that when I get down to my goal weight I want to go to one of those race driving schools out east =)

    • Christine – Great call on the Kia fembots…if you can’t flip something around like that (i.e. switch genders of the people involved), you’re probably doing something you shouldn’t.

      No one should say something about a woman they would never say about a man (or vice versa) – at least not in any scenario I can think of.

  2. So it’s ok to stereotype that women are better at financial decisions, but not that they are less interested in taking risks and driving fast even when the latter is borne out by many behavioral studies and speeding ticket + other violation analysis? It isn’t about blaming society if simply not very many women are naturally interested. You aren’t going to achieve 50/50 gender interest in every activity in the world, and doing so against people’s wishes not only doesn’t work but is severely misguided.

    The reason why few performance oriented auto ads target women is because it’s a niche market it isn’t big enough to put on standard TV advertisements in a cost effective manner. Advertising agencies target large demographics because it works. Maybe if they found a place like 80MPH mom or a female auto enthusiasts’ club it would be a great place to run one of these ads.

  3. I don’t watch TV….and all I know is that I love love love sporty cars! Traded in my beloved 4th Gen Camaro Super Sport for an even more fun Mazda MX-5 (Miata). Doesn’t have much of a trunk, but can haul more than my Suzuki SV650! 🙂

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