Girlputers by "Della"
May 16, 2009 5:29 AM   Subscribe

Dell have recently opened a new sub-site called "Della" aimed at women in the most offensive way possible. Bereft of any technical information about their hardware, or indeed any information at all, the site instead includes "Tech Tips" about keeping track of your weight...

Unsurprisingly, most people aren't too happy about this - and indeed Dell have already backtracked a little - the most offensively stupid "Tech Tips" (like keeping track of your weight) are now gone from the site.

But the site itself is still up. It's perhaps unsurprising that Dell wanted a more "feminine" way to present itself to its customers, given the amusing "masculinity" of the main Dell site - with phrases like "engineered for maximum performance and scalability" and "HP and IMB should be very afraid".
posted by Zarkonnen (114 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm really glad that when I bought a netbook last month, I didn't get the Dell.

Even though I was awfully tempted by the pretty colors.
posted by Jeanne at 5:33 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's lamentable that something only popularized in the last few decades is still subject to gendering in the most crass and offensive way.
posted by Sova at 5:43 AM on May 16, 2009


I for one am glad that a computer manufacturer has released a product that perfectly matches my every mood- and I'm not even a woman.
posted by mattoxic at 5:53 AM on May 16, 2009


I didn't realize that women like to do things like check their email or eat yogurt in flocks? And how is she getting a wireless connection?

Also: Math is hard.

Still, I like the concept of marketing laptops that *look* more personalized and less utilitarian. I would totally choose a patterned laptop shell over the plain gray one that I have now, but I don't think this is a gender thing. (Yes, it's a Dell. I like it because it's discounted through my school and when stuff breaks they fix it for free and quickly with my extended warranty, so there.)
posted by archofatlas at 5:58 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


How the hell can they call that "Promise Pink" pink? It's not even a proper hot pink and has peachy and plummy undertones to it. *furious*
posted by adipocere at 6:01 AM on May 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


I could use some tips for keeping track of my weight...


(male, last time I checked)

posted by spoobnooble at 6:01 AM on May 16, 2009


I can just see the Marketing droids now...staring blankly at their matrixes and demographic studies and countless Excel columns...wondering just how the consumers got it so wrong.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:02 AM on May 16, 2009 [20 favorites]


"HP and IMB should be very afraid".

IMB is shaking so hard they're invisible.
posted by Skorgu at 6:05 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bereft of any technical information about their hardware

Really? It took me two clicks to get to a page giving me the basic technical specs on their computers, which is pretty much what you have to do if you go the main Dell page. I'm also not sure why I should be too outraged that a company produced a website to market themselves to a group that clearly exists. Young women who want a cute, light laptop? These people do exist, and they want to buy a laptop that has some cute colors, and use it shop for shoes. They don't care about technical specs. Not all women are like this, but there clearly are women like this, and there's nothing wrong with the fact that they exist.

It's not as if Dell has said "Della: the website for women, so stop using our old one, that's just for men." They've produced a marketing campaign that describes how their products meet the desires of a specific group. It's only offensive if you assume that it's saying something it's not.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:06 AM on May 16, 2009 [17 favorites]


HP and [IBM] should be very afraid, eh? But I love my HP dv 6775, more than I loved my HP nx 7300. Mostly because my distro runs perfectly out of the box on either model. Plus, the nx7300's factory installed operating system wasn't Windows; it was FreeDOS. Free-effin'-DOS. Advantage: Hewlett-Packard.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:07 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm the type who is usually trying to explain to others why something is sexist or misogynist, but I don't see the problem here.

It seems to me to be aimed at women who don't care much about computers, and Dell is just trying to widen their customer base. I know women (and men) who don't know what specs mean, and they don't care, and they're the ones who might lose interest in a computer if they see a bunch of jargon -- not because they're dumb, but because they don't care enough to go through the hassle.

These ads aren't aimed at women in general, or at women like me -- they're for a certain type of woman, who is getting along fine with minimal computer use and spending her money on other things. Dell is trying to change that.
posted by Toothless Willy at 6:13 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


archofatlas: "And how is she getting a wireless connection?"

Wireless? Hell, you can't even see laptop screens in sunlight that strong.
posted by pwnguin at 6:15 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


(I was still typing when Bulgaroktonos's comment was posted, which explained what I was trying to say, only better.)
posted by Toothless Willy at 6:17 AM on May 16, 2009


(Note that the site is really toned down a lot from the original 1950's-housewife-esque content it had at the start.)
posted by Zarkonnen at 6:19 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Della" eh? I'm reminded of Perry Mason's secretary, Della Street.

That is all.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:21 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Note that the site is really toned down a lot from the original 1950's-housewife-esque content it had at the start.)

Well that's good, isn't it? That means they made a marketing error and responded positively to feedback. More companies should follow that lead.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:21 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where is the list of cooking, sewing, cleaning, and sexual tricks websites?

They should have just hired Cosmo marketeers.
posted by quanta and qualia at 6:24 AM on May 16, 2009


It's not as if Dell has said "Della: the website for women, so stop using our old one, that's just for men." They've produced a marketing campaign that describes how their products meet the desires of a specific group. It's only offensive if you assume that it's saying something it's not.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:06 AM on May 16 [+] [!]

but that's exactly what they ARE saying, by creating a separate website "for women" it implies (not so subtly) that the regular website is for men.
posted by fancyoats at 6:27 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm imagining David Walliams calling Dell as Emily Howard and asking for "A Lady's netbook, for Ladies, something frilly I can use to keep track of Ladies' Things, un ordinateur portable rose, s'il vous plaît" and a manager listening in on the call and furiously scribbling notes.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 6:28 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't see any problems with the site as it is now.... This feels like a bit of an overreaction...

If you don't like it, protest with your pocketbook (or purse, or wallet, or whatever)....

And... Della Street was hot in a 50's kind of way...
posted by HuronBob at 6:28 AM on May 16, 2009


Della Street was hot in a 50's kind of way...

Heh. When I was a little boy (circa 1963), and I'd watch Perry Mason with my grandma, Della's appearances were the high point of the show for me. I think I had a six-year-old's crush on Della.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:32 AM on May 16, 2009




Well that's good, isn't it? That means they made a marketing error and responded positively to feedback. More companies should follow that lead.

Sure - but do you see any signs that the people who are defending Dell ("of course young girls need simple computers") and are downplaying the complaints in this thread noticed that?

(On the other hand, discussions about women and technology in public forums always follow the same boring pattern, whether it's on snarkfilter or flameit. You could probably write a one-page lisp program that simulated the typical discussion. I'm glad that there are things like the ABI out there, and I'm proud to work for a company that spends lots of time and energy working on issues like this.)
posted by effbot at 6:35 AM on May 16, 2009


Most techies are men, but most men aren't techies. Most ordinary people choose a laptop based on price, and form-factor (and possibly colour), whether they're men or women. As long as it's 'good enough', there's little interest in the technical detail. Which is fair enough - how many people look into the detailed spec of their car engine and drivetrain before they buy a new car?

The netbooks are proving very popular because they're cheap, small and light. There's absolutely no reason a section designed to flog netbooks has to be 1950's style housewife marketing, it's quite easy to demonstrate the lifestyle uses for them that apply equally to men and women. Hell, I've got one, and I'm a professional techie. (I also have 8 other computers, but yeah)

Every single one of their surviving 5 tech tips apply to men just as much as women. Styling it like a crappy tampon advert site is basically an insult - "this is where you should be ladies, buying pretty pink mini laptops. Don't bother with that dull main site, the soft focus photos and pastel colours and lack of detail is designed just for that girly girl in you." I shudder to think what it looked like *before* it got edited.
posted by ArkhanJG at 6:41 AM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I AM HAPPY THIS POST IS BEREFT OF EDITORIALIZING.
posted by kbanas at 6:41 AM on May 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Their target market appears to be women in their mid-20s to early 30s, judging by the stock photos. This is an age range that's been using computers since they were in junior high, at least.

They may not know (or care) about the difference between AWESOME Video card X2000 and EVEN AWESOMER Video Card X2300, but they use computers for more than shopping online and tracking their weight. I work with women like this, and while they might not be able to swap out a memory chip, their computer use and knowledge is as sophisticated and wide-ranging as that of a regular-computer-user who's a guy.

Why talk down to your customer base? Bad marketing, bad research, bad presentation. Way to go, Dell.
posted by rtha at 6:44 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, discussions about women and technology in public forums always follow the same boring pattern, whether it's on snarkfilter or flameit. You could probably write a one-page lisp program that simulated the typical discussion.

Oh, definitely, and rtha above me here makes an excellent point as well - people of all reproductive systems who are in their 20s grew up with the internet and computers. Girls even use their machines the same way boys do. Anecdotally, I have male friends who torrent Steven Seagall movies and female friends who torrent House and Boston Legal.

If we can agree that men and women in this age group are aware computers exist and know how to use them, then I think the target audience Dell is really going after here is the technically clueless. In which case, maybe they should branch out to include laptops with camouflage patterns on them, called "Leatherneck Green", to compliment the already-existing "Power Pink". They could provide tech tips such as how to get the most out of your freeweights training, or gauge the mileage of your Harley.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:50 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Just bought a Dell laptop a few weeks ago. I'm glad I didn't buy the extended warranty. It's clearly overpriced (they actually tried to get me to buy a $300 warranty on a computer I paid $600 for!) and it seems that the money they get is going to pay for incredibly stupid marketing. I'm curious if they market the extended warranties differently on the Della site -- do they try to scare customers into thinking, say, that they'll spill makeup on the computer? Find a recipe, take the computer into the kitchen, and accidentally melt it on the stove?

And netbooks are for all genders. Full-size laptops are heavy. I don't have one, but I can see the appeal. Just because I am physically capable of carrying something heavy around doesn't mean I want to.

Also, from a couple weeks ago, take a look at Laptop Gender Wars: What your netbook or toughbook says about you (what's a "toughbook", anyway?) and Does this laptop make me look gay?
posted by madcaptenor at 6:50 AM on May 16, 2009


Their target market appears to be women in their mid-20s to early 30s, judging by the stock photos.

That's because Old People Are Ugly and nobody bothers to market to them, even though they have more disposable income.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:51 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, I see a lot of this in the tech industry - women are steered towards the tech-light section of the store so they can pick out a nice colour laptop bag, while the men are assumed to know what they're doing and are flattered by having the tech spec reeled off to them. I was in a computer store a while back - the woman next to me got a spiel assuming she knew nothing, while I happened to have been talking to her a few minutes earlier, and she knew exactly what she was after, and knew her stuff. Plenty of women have grown up with laptops, and know their way around them - my other half, for a start.

I on the other hand, was assumed to be technically orientated before I said a word. I've worked with female techies, and there is absolutely no justification for women to be treated any differently than men - yet there's an ongoing undercurrent of misogony in the tech world, with women talked down to, assumed to be idiots, and often the most common thing she encounters is 'omg, a girl on a tech forum. Is she hot? Pictures!!'. This assumption, and social pressure, is the primary reason women don't become techies, certainly not any lack of aptitude. It's barbie 'maths is hard' bullshit.

As usual, xkcd say it best.
posted by ArkhanJG at 6:53 AM on May 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'm saving my outrage for the day when my mouse clicks detect my chromosomes and force me to go there while blocking me from the rest of site.

As near as I can tell, it looks like they took some style and content cues from women's magazines. Which are full of diet tips and pink and recipes and shopping and yogurt and babies and yet women buy them without feeling marginalized. There are also plenty of women who don't buy them, and I doubt they'd be going to this marketing subsite if they weren't directed there by, oh, I don't, know, posts like this.
posted by sageleaf at 6:58 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want the fear inspiring technology, not goddamn pastel frou frou stuff. If they want to market to me they need to make a yellow steel Tonka laptop so I can beat the shit out of it and spill coffee on it. I would also like a Nerf iphone please.
posted by little e at 7:03 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I could use some tips for keeping track of my weight...

Scales work pretty good.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:05 AM on May 16, 2009


It seems to me to be aimed at women who don't care much about computers

If you replace women with people, couldn't that be said about the entirety of Dell's consumer line?
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:20 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


what's a "toughbook"

Toughbook
posted by MikeMc at 7:21 AM on May 16, 2009


I can just see the Marketing droids now...staring blankly at their matrixes and demographic studies and countless Excel columns...wondering just how the consumers got it so wrong.

Are there really marketing departments this analytical? In the ones I have seen in operation, the entire decision-making process goes more like this:
Marketing worker: "I have an idea."

Marketing boss: "Great, let's bet the company on it!"
posted by FishBike at 7:25 AM on May 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


They should have just hired Cosmo marketeers.

I laughed myself sore last month when I walked by a magazine rack and saw a Cosmo guaranteeing tips to "Give Your Man the Most Bad-ass Orgasm Imaginable... And You Too!"

First of all, who in the world uses the word "bad-ass" to describe an orgasm? And the "...And You Too!" was tacked on as such an afterthought that I couldn't help giggling and then calling my sister to tell her about it.
posted by hermitosis at 7:29 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unsurprisingly, most people aren't too happy about this...

Most? Are you sure? I could care less.
posted by ericb at 7:34 AM on May 16, 2009


Maybe you meant to say "some people..."
posted by ericb at 7:35 AM on May 16, 2009


Give Your Man the Most Bad-ass Orgasm

At this point I'd settle for a half-assed orgasm.
posted by digsrus at 7:40 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know women (and men) who don't know what specs mean, and they don't care, and they're the ones who might lose interest in a computer if they see a bunch of jargon...

You've described my parents. Bought them two Macs, set them up, gave some quick lessons. They use them to e-mail their kids, grandkids, read online news and research geneology. That's it. They get turned on once-a-day (at best) for very limited online sessions.
posted by ericb at 7:41 AM on May 16, 2009


ericb, just like yourself, the people that aren't too happy about this could care less. They could care so much less that they wouldn't care at all, even. If that were the case, then they would be at so low a level of caring that they couldn't care less.
posted by Dysk at 7:41 AM on May 16, 2009


That means they made a marketing error and responded positively to feedback. More companies should follow that lead.
"The resounding blowback prompted the company to amend the Web site, along with a note that stated, 'Some of you have read this article over the last several days & will notice a few modifications. You spoke, we listened. Thank you for your ongoing feedback.'"*
posted by ericb at 7:45 AM on May 16, 2009


It seems to me to be aimed at women who don't care much about computers, and Dell is just trying to widen their customer base.

But the men who don't care much about computers can hack it on the regular Dell website? I don't think there's anyone saying that there aren't women who are not tech-minded - just that there are plenty of men who aren't as well, but there's no special website with minimal specs and tips on how to organize their life on the internet.
posted by lullaby at 7:48 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


'Listen to music, view pictures or even watching a movie.'

Jesus, Dell, edit your ad copy much?
posted by Huck500 at 7:52 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


...they should branch out to include laptops with camouflage patterns on them, called "Leatherneck Green", to compliment the already-existing "Power Pink".

Yeah -- follow the lead of Taser International which now offers its TASER® C2 "personal protection device" in pink, joining their TASER® C2 Desert Camo model.
posted by ericb at 7:54 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll tell you something else that chaffs my hide. I was shopping the other day and the store I went to was out of my brand of razor. They come in packs of five, have three blades per head, and an aloe vera strip. This exact same design - only in a pack of four, and pink - cost more than the five-pack of man razors. I told this to a female friend of mine and she shrugged and said, "Uh, yeah. We find this out pretty early on. That's why you won't find any pink razors in my bathroom."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:00 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


A laptop with a built-in taser? Dude, I'm getting a Dell.
posted by box at 8:01 AM on May 16, 2009


...but that's exactly what they ARE saying, by creating a separate website "for women" it implies (not so subtly) that the regular website is for men.

Just like how American Airlines, Southwest and other airlines have sub-sites for gays/lesbians which imply (not so subtly) that the regular website is for straights."

/sarcasm
posted by ericb at 8:01 AM on May 16, 2009


which now offers its TASER® C2 "personal protection device" in pink

Awesome. Now all I'm waiting for is Glock to manufacture a pink pistol for me to use.
posted by lullaby at 8:03 AM on May 16, 2009


A laptop with a built-in taser? Dude, I'm getting a Dell.

Add in the optional built-in wallet and vibrator and you've got yourself a winner!
posted by ericb at 8:04 AM on May 16, 2009


A bit off topic:

I am male. Once I was channel surfing and I ended up on one of those cable 'woman's tv channel' networks. They happened to have a program on automobiles.

Most males stereotypically know lots about cars, and women stereotypically know little about them, and this program seemed to be organized in that light: teaching the basics of automotive functions, presuming no real prior knowledge of cars.

Now, I know little about cars in spite of my male-ness, so I thought maybe this might be good to watch, I might learn something. So, I started watching.

The topic of the day was turbocharging. They explained that they increased the density of air prior to it going into the cylinder. However, when the engine compresses the air, the air temperature rises too. [They didn't mention it but it's the ideal gas law, pressure is proportional to temperature, so if P goes up, T goes up too].

So to cool the air, the engine sends the air to an auxillary radiator, which is separate from the main engine radiator.

The somewhat effeminate male car expert explained it thus, in a bit of a high-pitched voice, the same voice you use when talking to a small child: "Now, over here we have the mommy radiator [the main one], and over here we have the baby radiator [the aux. one]!"

I laughed, shook my head, and turned the channel.

In terms of Dull Dell I think this website is an act of desparation. With a poor economy, stiff competition, they are desperately seeking to increase their market share by aiming at technophobes who historically have avoided computers because they're too intimidating. But that really doesn't make sense: if you go to school, or have even a menial job, you're expected to have the basics of computer literacy.

Does anyone have a screen grab of the website before it got cleaned up?


I don't like Dell. I bought a high performance desktop a few years ago, its Raid drives failed under warranty, the tech came and swapped then out, but left me to getting the PC to re-recognize the drives, and then re-install windows. Getting everying working again practically gave me an ulcer. Their tech support help line is worse than useless. Hearing the guy in India tell me, "have you seen our new support website?" or listening to the recorded audio when on hold tell me, "most problems can be solved by rebooting!" made me want to grind my teeth. When it comes to Dell, "just say no".
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 8:04 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


kbanas: "I AM HAPPY THIS POST IS BEREFT OF EDITORIALIZING."

You should have seen the first draft...

Dell are such sexist assholes. What's up with that?
posted by Joe Beese at 8:24 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd be more shocked about a Dell sub-site, geared towards women that was tech-light if I thought anyone going to Dell was going there because of their keen interest in technology.

In related news, I think the tech divide between men and women is getting smaller and smaller but not in a good way, so I don't thing the problem is that the Della site is wrong. It's that there isn't a Delbert site with a free web cam ap that let's you keep tabs on your hairline.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:29 AM on May 16, 2009


I named my first laptop "Della Street." She was the brains of the whole Perry Mason operation.

And sexier than hell.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:35 AM on May 16, 2009


It's really a fembot pretending to be a femputer ruling over a tribe of giant amazon women. (Snoo snoo!)

(Aw, now I made myself sad, because Bea Arthur is dead.)
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:36 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm really not buying that by setting up a website for a certain type of woman(young, cares little about technical details, etc.) Dell is marketing the website to all women. If a women looks at that and it doesn't appeal to her, she can go use to regular Dell website, where nothing suggests that the website isn't for her. Also, if you actually try to buy a laptop off the Della site, you get technical details, just like you would anywhere else. It's not like they've set up a website that only lets women pick colors, and then sends them a box they know nothing about.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:37 AM on May 16, 2009


This is standard gender-based market segmentation and it happens everywhere. I was laughing after I saw Pert Plus for Men. You can tell it's for men on the shelf because it's darker and desaturated compared to the regular shampoo.

Marketers make different products for men and women because it's a trivially identifiable sub-group and then they try to trick consumers into thinking that each of them have different needs. Some products might have good reasons for gender-based segmentation (e.g. vitamins), but for a lot of products (e.g. computers) it's irrelevant.
posted by demiurge at 9:02 AM on May 16, 2009


"That means they made a marketing error and responded positively to feedback. More companies should follow that lead."

I doubt this was an error; after all it got the site posted to the front page of Metafilter. You can't buy that kind of traffic. First they get to generate a bunch of traffic from the outraged blog-o-sphere and then they make brownie points by changing it and apologizing.

"First of all, who in the world uses the word 'bad-ass' to describe an orgasm? And the '...And You Too!' was tacked on as such an afterthought that I couldn't help giggling and then calling my sister to tell her about it."

Am I the only one getting the obvious implication?
posted by Mitheral at 9:12 AM on May 16, 2009


Marketers make different products for men and women...

Brings to mind Philips/Norelco Bodygroom for "manscaping" and its other related website: shaveeverywhere.com.

Previous FPP -- Groomed kiwis
posted by ericb at 9:17 AM on May 16, 2009


I doubt this was an error; after all it got the site posted to the front page of Metafilter. You can't buy that kind of traffic. First they get to generate a bunch of traffic from the outraged blog-o-sphere and then they make brownie points by changing it and apologizing.

Yeah, I was just giving Dell the benefit of the doubt. They might have purposefully engineered outrage, and then backpedalled to look like well-intentioned guys who made an oopsie. But if they're that devious, how come their laptops are boxy as hell looking?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:17 AM on May 16, 2009


Heh madcaptenor, there's a brilliant link to a toughbook advert in that article. About all it needs more is a couple of jet flypasts and some boxers to be the ultimate joke advert. "Toughbook. For manly men, doing manly things."
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:23 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Real manly men let their daughters put flower stickers on their laptops.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:25 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I laughed myself sore last month when I walked by a magazine rack and saw a Cosmo guaranteeing tips to "Give Your Man the Most Bad-ass Orgasm Imaginable... And You Too!"

First of all, who in the world uses the word "bad-ass" to describe an orgasm? And the "...And You Too!" was tacked on as such an afterthought that I couldn't help giggling and then calling my sister to tell her about it.


My favorite Cosmo cover featured the words "tips for erotic sex." In all the years of giggling at cosmo I've never be able to better state the essential sadness behind it all.
posted by geos at 9:31 AM on May 16, 2009


Dell's not the only one targeting women with specific netbook models. HP came out with the HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam edition.
The perfect fashion accessory
The Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition is so small that you can carry it in your purse
posted by smackfu at 9:37 AM on May 16, 2009


there's a brilliant link to a toughbook advert in that article. About all it needs more is a couple of jet flypasts and some boxers to be the ultimate joke advert. "Toughbook. For manly men, doing manly things."

Followed by Brock Samson beating a wild dog to death with it.

HP came out with the HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam edition.

Oh wow!
Tired of sacrificing glamour for digital accessories? Now you can have both: fashion and cool technology. ... Stylish and alluring, with vibrant peony blooms signifying good fortune and prosperity (matching silk sleeve included)
I guess the male equivalent would read, "Decorated with ninjas and pirates fighting each other with legs of mutton, signifying you're one bad dude who don't take no shit from nobody."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:45 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Which are full of diet tips and pink and recipes and shopping and yogurt and babies and yet women buy them without feeling marginalized.

Sure. And the magazine racks also feature Maxim and men's mags that push motorcycles and stereo systems and play on men's fears of having inadequate penises or being perceived as gay. Or so it seems. But I bet there's plenty of Metafilter guys who don't read those, or only at the dr's office when there's nothing else to read. Because they're stupid and insulting to men, even if some men read them.

As are the women's mags to women, as are these laptop ads. Which is the only point really being made here.
posted by emjaybee at 9:47 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


They're stupid and insulting to men, even if some men read them.

As are the women's mags to women, as are these laptop ads. Which is the only point really being made here.


Precisely. Thank you.
posted by Zarkonnen at 9:53 AM on May 16, 2009


Marketing technology products specifically targeting women is nothing new. Sony has marketed its Bravia line of flat-screen TV's at women.

BTW -- check out Holly Buchanan's Marketing to Women Online and The Soccer Mom Myth ("Today's Female Consumer, Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.") blogs.

Also -- M2W - Marketing to Women Conference.

BTW -- women account for 66% of PC purchases.

January 8, 2005: Electronics and Fashion Merge as Vendors Begin to Address the Women's Market.
posted by ericb at 10:34 AM on May 16, 2009


I suspect that this reply may rub some folks the wrong way. Just understand I'm not trying to troll. I just think it's a legitimate point...

This thread reminds me a lot about a Seinfeld episode. George believes an African-American looks like Sugar Ray Leonard and he informs this person of that fact. Of course, this doesn't go over so well with the man who already believes George is insensitive, if not racist. At one point, Jerry remarks, "You still shouldn't say it."

And that's what I think. You still shouldn't say it.

Sure, there are women that these particular stylish aspects might appeal to, but why assume anything? Why not do what HP and Sony have done with their sites? They're pretty gender-neutral, as some of the linked articles in the OP point out and they do a good job of pointing out various aspects of each system without drawing hard lines that could alienate people. As others have said, technology is gender-neutral.

To me, the debate over whether it's okay or not is a little beyond the point. Would we even be considering whether the site is okay if the site pointed out how netbooks can help African-Americans find the "best deals on Fried Chicken?" Or how netbooks can help Homosexuals "hook-up in the local baths?" To me, the original site is just this outrageous. And Dell simply shouldn't have said any of it.
posted by tcv at 10:41 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


So I go over to a friend's house the other day, and meet his sixteen-year old daughter. My friends tried at some length to explain what I do, as a computer security professional. The eye glaze over effect is painful. I finally just interrupt:

"There are lots of broken computers out there. I fix them."

"Cool! See dad, that's all I was looking for."

Look. You like computers. I like computers. We, here on the Blue, love our little glowing boxes. It's what we do. It's not what she does. It's not what a lot of people -- guys, girls, whatever -- give a flying crap about.

I have a car key. I put it in a car. I expect the car to turn on. That's all I care about cars. That's OK too.

Some people really like pink. You may not. My last girlfriend certainly didn't. But you know, there's a lot of girls out there who love pink, and all it represents. All this controversy carries a somewhat disquieting undertone, like there's something wrong with those girls, like the only reason those girls are all fashion and shoe and pink obsessed is because of those evil men marketers. That's wrong -- not just morally, but factually. Lots of girls just like pink things. No reason to judge.
posted by effugas at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Homosexuals "hook-up in the local baths?"

That's actually not a half-bad idea. I mean, the stereotype you use is obviously horrible, and the actual marketing wouldn't be that explicit. But I could imagine a line of laptops marketed towards online dating.

You could setup deals with several major online dating sites to offer free 30-day trials. As soon as you turn on the computer, it could guide you through setting up profiles at several dating sites and social networking sites.

Then you realize that the needs of homosexuals and heterosexuals are different. They have different cultures, different expectations, and even different websites. For example, eHarmony and gay.com serve different markets. So what would be so wrong with marketing different computers to different self-identified sexual orientations?

Not that this Dell site is good. It's quite horrible to be honest. But we self-select our group memberships all the time. Sometimes it makes sense, both economically and socially, to sell to these self-identified groups.
posted by formless at 11:12 AM on May 16, 2009


...how netbooks can help African-Americans find the "best deals on Fried Chicken?"

Or write songs about Chicken McNuggets® and celebrate Black History month every month of the year.

Recent MeFi thread.
posted by ericb at 11:17 AM on May 16, 2009


Lots of girls just like pink things.

As a gay man, I can tell 'ya: so do a number of guys.
posted by ericb at 11:19 AM on May 16, 2009


Marisa--

Ha! Disposable razors for women are of much higher quality than the same product for guys. Just the raw surface area you girls have to contend with -- they give you better stuff, so that the amount of time the disposable is useful stays roughly constant across genders. I'm personally convinced the pink is there not to attract girls but to repel guys.
posted by effugas at 11:26 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


So what would be so wrong with marketing different computers to different self-identified sexual orientations?

Exactly.

Marketing specifically to LGBT people is smart and lucrative.

Marketers: Buying Power of Gays to Exceed $835 Billion.
posted by ericb at 11:29 AM on May 16, 2009


Damnit, I want a pretty netbook. With flowers on it. Purple ones. Or maybe butterflies.

DAMN YOU, DELL! WHERE'S MY FANCY BOY LAPTOP!?
posted by loquacious at 11:56 AM on May 16, 2009


I'd just like to point out, we've seen a number of comments at this point half-joking that that pink and girly stuff is A-OK, as long as the consumers for it are in fact gay men.
posted by effugas at 12:42 PM on May 16, 2009


Best Buy launched an experimental chain of computer stores aimed at women in the Twin Cities area called EQ-Life. These small shops sold vitamins, candles, cosmetics, and also had massage chairs and pharmacies. The stores were not pink or Best Buy blue, but instead were clean and refined with a little bit of an Asian design sensibility. All the other products were loss leaders for overpriced designer laptops and iPods on displays scattered throughout the store.

You can see the appeal from a marketing perspective: make an atmosphere where a busy upper-middle-class mom could relax for an hour or two without her husband or kids, then push her to buy a pricey laptop while her defenses are down. EQ-Life shut down in 2008, so maybe the target demographic was too smart to fall for the ploy.
posted by miyabo at 12:49 PM on May 16, 2009


Marisa--

Ha! Disposable razors for women are of much higher quality than the same product for guys. Just the raw surface area you girls have to contend with --


Huh. This is awkward.

they give you better stuff, so that the amount of time the disposable is useful stays roughly constant across genders. I'm personally convinced the pink is there not to attract girls but to repel guys.

Is this true? Are they using some space-age metal culled from asteroids for women's razors, while men are given what seems to be blades punched out of tunafish cans?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:55 PM on May 16, 2009


Marisa--

Re: Surface area, LEGS! Seriously. LEGS!

There's apparently a bunch of tradeoffs in razor design -- thickness of metal, sharpness of blade, quality of metal, quantity of blade, etc. Remember that guys' razors are usually designed for just the face, and the negative effects from a nick are more noticeable there than anywhere else. So it's not entirely a conspiracy for obsolesence -- just very different optimizations between the two.

Also, no offense, girls are a much more ... discerning lot than most of us straight guys are, when it comes to fashion accessories. Competition depends on a population that cares.
posted by effugas at 1:49 PM on May 16, 2009


"But if they're that devious, how come their laptops are boxy as hell looking?"

Marketing and product design are two different groups.
posted by Mitheral at 2:05 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


So they've finally released the lady computer they've been developing since 1969?

Now I'll be able to track my wife's clothing purchases while paying the bills!
posted by orme at 3:43 PM on May 16, 2009


I liked one of the comments on the site: "I found this extremely helpful. I'm buying a Mac." Snerk.

Yeah, this is just stupid, as far as I can tell.
posted by jokeefe at 4:11 PM on May 16, 2009


I am outraged. Just outraged.
posted by sfts2 at 4:20 PM on May 16, 2009


Guys, the problem isn't they're marketing to a demographic. The problem is (or was) the playing to stereotypes.
posted by tcv at 4:30 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Give Your Man the Most Bad ass-Orgasm

Ladies, please be careful about where you insert the hyphen during this procedure.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:34 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Young women who want a cute, light laptop? These people do exist, and they want to buy a laptop that has some cute colors, and use it shop for shoes.

Get serious. Find me a woman who wants a laptop in order to shop for shoes. Just one.

Show me the survey results where that box gets checked non-ironically.
posted by rokusan at 4:53 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I liked one of the comments on the site

The comments are a lot softer than the first time I looked, and a lot less.... numerous.

Does anyone have a cache of the site pre-editing? I tried to dig it out of my browser cache but it's long gone. I remember more diet tips and shoe shopping. :)
posted by rokusan at 4:54 PM on May 16, 2009


I have used many pink razors (when nobody was looking and my own were toast). No detectable difference.

Then again, I'm not picky. I have shaved with a kitchen knife and dish soap more than once.
posted by rokusan at 4:57 PM on May 16, 2009


jokeefe has a good point - the apple.com site is an *excellent* example of how to sell computers to people who aren't computer nerds, both men and women. It puts a lot of emphasis on the look of the things, hides the prices so people don't get sticker shock, and lays out in simple terms what each model is good for - the imac for example. "The all-in-one for everyone. More display for less. Ultrafast graphics. Double the memory. Organise your photos by faces, make movies in no time, learn to play music, and more."

At no point do they refer to shoe shopping, weight-loss plans, gym workouts, or other stereotypical gender reasons to own a computer.
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:08 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is a crucial and severe difference between the following two statements:

"Let's advertise to people who really aren't interested in technology but like cutesy colors and designs, and mostly just want to be able to shop online and keep up with friends."
and
"Let's advertise to women -- they're not interested in technology and all they really want are cutesy colors and the ability to shop online."

Of course there's nothing wrong with the former. Everyone in this thread who has said that these people exist and deserve to be marketed to are entirely correct. But the grotesque part is that they are saying the latter, not the former. Everyone is also correct when they point out that this kind of stereotyping is common and to be expected in advertising. But that still doesn't mean it's not grotesque to see such a painfully obvious appeal to stereotypes in a completely novel ad campaign.

Every time I see something like this stupid Della website, it hurts my soul just a little bit. (Yogurt commercials are particularly bad and make me want to kill kill kill.) It really doesn't matter if there are some women who perfectly fit the stereotype that "Della" is using. What matters, instead, is that they used such a stereotype to begin with, that they are so horribly broadcasting their beliefs and assumptions about what it means to be a woman.
posted by Ms. Saint at 6:13 PM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


You know what I'd kinda like to see Dell do? Buy a bunch of that carefully-collected data that people like Google and Doubleclick have been compiling about everyone for years, then use it for some of that real targeted marketing that advertisers have been teasing/threatening us with.

Do I visit Steam a lot? www.dell.com should redirect to a dedicated site about their XPS gaming PCs. Belong to .torrent sites? Upsell me a bigger hard drive. Hang out on Linux forums? Put the no-OS option front and center. Even if this meant that everyone who had ever visited perezhilton saw an ad for a pink laptop, it would still be less clumsy and ham-handed than the Della site.
posted by box at 6:22 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


As others have pointed out, the demographic they seem to be aiming for-- women in their twenties or early thirties-- have grown up with computers and likely use them at work or at home already. If Dell wants to market to people who are unfamiliar with the technology, why don't they aim at those in retirement age, who may just want email and a browser and so on? You could call it DellOld. Or something.

Della seems to aim here at teenage girls, rather than adult women, but they've missed the boat; teenage girls are huge users of social media (so internet savvy) as well as phone applications, and if they had wanted to market cheap small laptops in pretty colours to girls they may have had something ten years ago. Now, not so much. I mean, I actually like the idea of a tiny cheap (but powerful) laptop that would allow me to be online and use Word and iTunes-- that's probably 90% of what I use my Powerbook for. I even like the idea of pretty pretty colours and designs. But I wouldn't touch this site and all its bubblebath your way to empowerment nonsense.
posted by jokeefe at 8:03 PM on May 16, 2009


If Dell wants to market to people who are unfamiliar with the technology, why don't they aim at those in retirement age, who may just want email and a browser and so on?

December 19, 2007: Where The Bucks Are
"Youth-obsessed Madison Avenue is missing the biggest, richest market of the future. Boomer women have money to spend and make most purchasing decisions. Plus, they live 15 years longer than their husbands. So why aren't advertisers paying them any attention?"
posted by ericb at 10:36 PM on May 16, 2009


I look forward to Dell's attempts to market to the African-American, Latino, and Asian segments.
posted by moonbiter at 4:05 AM on May 17, 2009


I see your point about the "should be afraid", but calling the phrase "engineered for maximum performance and scalability" masculine just tells me that you're actually the one that thinks women won't care about quality engineering.

Every time I've scratched the surface of a collectivist I've found a bigot.

I don't believe in feminism, I believe in equality for all. And I don't believe in rights for women, I believe in rights for people.
posted by vsync at 6:35 AM on May 17, 2009


vsync: Please look up feminism in the dictionary. That crap you just said in your last line is tired.
posted by Toothless Willy at 9:26 AM on May 17, 2009


Just bought a Dell laptop a few weeks ago. I'm glad I didn't buy the extended warranty.

Why? This is the #1 (and #s 2-10) reason I buy Dell. I get a $900 laptop which would have cost $1200 from anyone else, add a $300 extended, accidents-included warrenty.

And then, when I drop it and the screen shatters - like would happen no matter what I got, because I have the coordination of a 6-year-old - they come to my house with a new LCD. Or when the cord starts cracking after 3 years of heavy use, they send me a new one, because it is still under warrenty. Or when a key gets a bit unresponsive, I get a whole new keyboard. I have saved thousands of dollars over the past three years, just from one expense of $300. In fact, I just paid to extend it, because it was substantially cheaper than getting a new laptop (full-fledged, not a cheap little netbook), but I know that if anything happens in the next two years, it will be repaired as if it were new.
posted by jb at 10:41 AM on May 17, 2009


Hysterical editorializing and blatant misrepresentation! Truly a good post for metafilter.

Seriously, have we never heard of marketing before?
posted by tehloki at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Let's advertise to people who really aren't interested in technology but like cutesy colors and designs, and mostly just want to be able to shop online and keep up with friends."
and
"Let's advertise to women -- they're not interested in technology and all they really want are cutesy colors and the ability to shop online."


So, um, as long as we're talking about guys too, you're cool?

What matters, instead, is that they used such a stereotype to begin with, that they are so horribly broadcasting their beliefs and assumptions about what it means to be a woman.

And you aren't? Here's an honest, seriously not-rhetorical question: What do you think of women who completely match the Della stereotype, who read Cosmo, buy pink things, and really, truly care whether Brad chooses Jen or Angie?
posted by effugas at 1:35 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't really understand your point, effugas. I'm cool if we advertise to people who have a certain subset of beliefs and desires, regardless of their sex or gender, yeah. And, while I don't have much in common with women who read Cosmo, buy pink things, and really truly care about Brad/Angie/Jen, I don't really care one way or the other about it. Why do you think I have to have some sort of judgment about women with those tastes, in order to find it offensive that Dell apparently thinks what it means to be a woman, full-stop, is to have those tastes?

It's like Carl's Jr. commercials, where guys are all "Raar! Need MAN FOOD! No frou-frou salads for ME!!!" Lots of guys like hamburgers, sure. But the fact that they are equating being a man with liking certain foods is just gross. To say that isn't to make any sort of judgment about men or hamburgers.
posted by Ms. Saint at 1:56 PM on May 17, 2009


Saint--

Look.

There are girlie girls.

There are girls who hate pink. I know, I like those girls, I tend to find myself dating them.

Ultimately though, I don't care which one someone is. I have wonderful friends on both sides of the spectrum. But if you don't think there's a war going on for the soul of femininity, you aren't paying attention. I don't think the Della people intentionally tried to alienate a large number of women. But I promise you, the pink-haters are sending a pretty clear message to the girlie girls that something is wrong with them for actually responding to this stuff.

I mean, seriously. The key word you yourself used to describe this in a male context, is "gross". Ewww, linking meat and manliness. Well, guess what. There are in fact lots of guys who see meat eating as a manly thing to do. You going to walk up to them and say, what's wrong with you, you should go eat a salad? You say you aren't making any sort of judgement, but let me tell you, it's not like those guys are ashamed of their proclivities, or are unreceptive to having those interests catered to. It's their appetite, and you're calling it gross.

That's OK. It's not for you. It is for them. That's kind of how I see the whole Della thing. It ain't for me. It ain't for you. It is for them, and I genuinely don't think those girls are doing anything wrong and I'm puzzled and saddened anyone might think they were.
posted by effugas at 2:27 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's kind of how I see the whole Della thing. It ain't for me. It ain't for you. It is for them, and I genuinely don't think those girls are doing anything wrong and I'm puzzled and saddened anyone might think they were.

I think because Dell didn't set out to launch a marketing campaign for "girly girls" but for women, in particular, young women in their early 20s. These are people who grew up with computers and the interwebs, but what Dell came up with was this very shallow and sterotype-laden take on what female priorities are. They didn't assume, as they and many others seem to do with men, that women would be interested in the tech specs as much as the cosmetic aspects, and instead took the strategy that women are clearly intimidated by machines and need to have their hands held as they're coaxed gradually into the big ol' scary tech world. Granted, they were good about responding to feedback and got a lot of things sorted. Kudos for that. But you have to admit there's a distinct feeling in the tech world that women are baffled by machinery, and the initial Dell campaign was just a part of that.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:56 PM on May 17, 2009


If so-called "girlie girls" think that they are more female than I am, then they are mistaken and offensive. If men who equate meat with manliness think they are more manly than a guy who likes salads, they are mistaken and offensive.

That doesn't mean that liking pink and what-not makes one less female, or somehow less worthy. That's just one way to be. The offensive aspect is when one starts saying that one standard of behavior and proclivities should be held for all people of a single gender, race, class, what-have-you.

Hamburgers aren't gross (I happen to like them quite a bit), and men who like hamburgers aren't gross. Carl's Jr. is, for trying to tell men that, in order to be men, they have to like hamburgers. Pink isn't tasteless (hey, I'm wearing a pink shirt right now! Irony!), and women who like pink aren't in any way wrong, undesirable, or less worthy than others. But the moment that any individual or organization assumes that what it means to be a woman is to like pink, they are making a terrible mistake.

It seems like our disagreement, effugas, stems from an assumption that one cannot look down on advertising intended for a female audience that assumes all women like pink without also looking down on women who like pink. I still don't get why you think that this is true. Yeah, some women who don't like pink do dislike women who like pink, and vice versa, but why can't both groups be upset, together, about the assumption that whether or not they like pink has something to do with their genitals?
posted by Ms. Saint at 2:59 PM on May 17, 2009


Saint--

Where did this one standard stuff come from? Who is creating this "one true woman" concept, Dell? Or the Della complainers?

The reality is, if you're a computer-savvy female shopper, Della is not the site for you. You know what you want to do with computers; you don't need to be convinced that they'll be something useful in, and compatible with, your life.

You know what? There are totally girls who need to be convinced this gear would be useful to them. How else would you advertise to them, but to call out their dreams and desires and say, heh, we've got you covered!

How else would you design these advertisements? The only thing different between what you liked and what you hated was the fact that "women" appeared to be explicitly called out. It seems like you're saying, if only there were more men in this advertising campaign, it'd be A-OK. I think that's very strange -- like, if you show a bunch of women doing something, clearly you are making some sort of argument that This Is The Way Women Should Be. When really, it's, Women Who Like This Stuff Should Give Dell Their Money. That is, unquestionably, what the campaign is trying to say.

Look. Car ads have no effect on me. I drive some amount, but I really don't care what I'm driving. I want to put in a key and have it go. I am not at all offended by ads that really cater to horsepower, or top speed, or whatever. But Toyota had a reputation for reliability and I tell you that's what I drive. When Chevy came out with some really great reliability numbers and a super-confident warranty program, I actually got interested.

I'm not bothered that there are guys into different things than me. That's not a bug, that's an explicit feature of niche-based adaption -- people *look* to be unique, to choose different archetypes amidst their siblings and peer groups. It's what we do, as humans, and is the source of wonderful diversity.

So that's the deal. Della is advertising to people who are not you or me. (Remember, I'm not a big fan of the girlie girl thing.) That's OK. But go check out the comments. There are just so many along the lines of:

"I can't believe you'd do this, Dell! I'm a woman, and I've been building up and tearing down your 1U's in data centers for years! How dare you imply I need my laptop to be pink."

...when it's like, WTF? Dell wasn't talking to you. It was talking to my friend's daughter, sixteen years old, supposedly 83 kinds of savvy because you know, kids these days, who straight up did not know and did not care if she had a Mac or a PC. And that's OK, isn't it?

Look. I come from San Francisco. If you can't get used to the idea of guys walking hand in hand at restaurants, or girls snuggling up to one another at the local park, you're in the wrong city. An intrinsic part of having an identity in a society is being able to be public about it, and that too is OK. I submit to you that part of having a public identity is it being OK to market to you. Southwest having a gay travel site couldn't have happened if it is was somehow "approving" of the "sinful" gay lifestyle. Dell is somehow "approving" of girlie girls who don't give a crap about specifications, but do need to count their calories. That's what's going on, that's what the debate is about, and frankly, I've got about thirty or forty pounds to lose, and guess what I personally am about to have to do?
posted by effugas at 3:45 PM on May 17, 2009


WTF? Dell wasn't talking to you.

They thought they were. They thought that the message they were sending was the appropriate message to send to all women. That's really what the issue is. They weren't marketing to some women, they were trying to market to all women.
posted by Ms. Saint at 3:50 PM on May 17, 2009


Saint,

All women? Really? I'm over in Asia right now. I'm a little confused, a rather large number of women around me speak no English. I don't see Chinese or Japanese or Indian or Thai translations, maybe Dell doesn't think they have actual women out here? Whoa, that breaks the Della scandal wide open!

C'mon. Dell was marketing to a specific psychographic profile, of which you were not included, just like the women out here aren't.
posted by effugas at 4:06 PM on May 17, 2009


rokusan--

Use a pink razor for like three days straight. Then use a blue one for a few days. You'll see what I mean.
posted by effugas at 4:08 PM on May 17, 2009


Toothless Willy:
vsync: Please look up feminism in the dictionary. That crap you just said in your last line is tired.
Do tell.
posted by vsync at 7:23 PM on May 17, 2009


"Ohhhh! Unh! Unh! Unh! Yes! Yes! OH MY GAAAAAWD!", she cried as huge, shuddering waves of warm delicious outrage engulfed her.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 5:24 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you guys are done dictating which things women are allowed to be annoyed by, I'd like to share a link to someone who's gotten it right.

One Million Women is a campaign to get women (you guessed it, a million of them) to commit to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. It's not aimed at the expert-green audience, it's aimed at women who would not consider themselves greenies. And it doesn't have a single pink pixel in there. It's realistic about the kinds of things women have to do in their daily lives, and that they make 70% of spending decisions in the average household, without any stupid "women love to shop" bullshit.
posted by harriet vane at 6:48 PM on May 21, 2009


Oh, and vsync, this gives a brief explanation of why equality for all doesn't address the same needs as feminism, with links to more info if you want to know more.
posted by harriet vane at 6:53 PM on May 21, 2009


Adage has a nice summary today of why people responded so badly to Della.
posted by zinfandel at 3:11 PM on May 26, 2009


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