Remember the old Hanes hosiery ads? As a comely model turned male heads while sashaying across a crowded room, a chanteuse crooned: "Gentlemen prefer Hanes." Whether or not gentlemen still do, Hanes has decided that women don't prefer that sort of ad anymore. "We decided we really needed to walk away from the whole thing," says Lyn Salzberg, a senior vice-president at Hanes's ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide. Now, Hanes uses photos of accomplished real-life women, such as Diane English, the creator of TV show Murphy Brown, in a suit with a short skirt.
'BIZARRE.' Like Hanes, many fashion companies that honed marketing to women to a fine art have had to revamp their strategies to appeal to professional women. Maidenform Inc., for example, spent decades running its famous campaign, "The Maidenform Woman. You never know where she'll turn up," which depicted scantily dressed women in various public places. "The Maidenform woman ended up at the opera in her bra--mostly bizarre situations," says Marilyn Bane, Maidenform's vice-president of advertising. An effort to change with the times backfired in the early '80s, when the underdressed woman was a stockbroker or a doctor. Bane says women wondered: "Why is a doctor there in her bra and panties?"
So Maidenform replaced the campaign with black-and-white ads featuring such male heartthrobs as L. A. Law's Corbin Bernsen and Superman Christopher Reeve, who explained why they liked women in lingerie. But that, too, had sexist overtones. This year, Maidenform decided to take a more politically correct route. A new print ad shows a baby chick, a Barbie doll, a fox, and a tomato. The tagline: "A helpful guide for those who still confuse women with various unrelated objects." Says Bane: "We feel we've taken a little bit higher road. This is not an ultrafeminist statement. This is just a reminder."