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Jimmy Iovine + The Art of Mansplaining

Mansplainin' + Marketing Jimmy Iovine, one of the most famous producers of all time (and one of the head honchos at Apple Play) showed up on CBS This Morning to explain the new Apple marketing push focused around the inclusion of women (they were premiering the Mary J. Blige commercial aimed at women).

Mr, Iovine said:

“I always knew that women, some women, at times find it very difficult to find music, and this helps make it easier with playlists, curated by real people, not by algorithms alone,"

And:

“I just thought of a problem. Girls are sitting around, talking about boys, right?" he continued. "Or complaining about boys, when they have their heart broken or whatever, and they need music for that, right? And they need music for that. So it’s hard to find the right music. Not everyone has the right list or knows a DJ.”

And then Twitter went insane...mostly because he seemed to be saying that women need men to Mansplain music to them.

There is probably a reason high-ranking executives are rarely the actual PR voice of their companies...Turns out they almost always suck at it.

The First Quote

“I always knew that women, some women, at times find it very difficult to find music, and this helps make it easier with playlists, curated by real people, not by algorithms alone,"

I am really not sure what the hell he meant by “some women, at times, find it very hard to find music.”

His apology kind of cleared it up a bit:

“We created Apple Music to make finding the right music easier for everyone — men and women, young and old. Our new ad focuses on women, which is why I answered the way I did, but of course the same applies equally for men. I could have chosen my words better, and I apologize.”

So what he was saying was that, if you accept him at his word, that lots of folks male and female have a hard time finding music, so it is nice to have a professional (who could be a woman) curate the music discovery process for you.

Okay, I guess I can see that...but, there is something icky about the way he apologized too...

So, you are saying you showed up to present a marketing campaign to women...but, did not think through what you were saying about women in your remarks?

You are running a HUGE multi-million dollar operation, and you are about to launch a marketing campaign for women and did not think about women...except to mention them accidentally?

Something doesn’t make sense here

Maybe it was just arrogance?

But okay, let's pretend we accept that... then what explains the second quote?

The Second Quote

“I just thought of a problem. Girls are sitting around, talking about boys, right?" he continued. "Or complaining about boys, when they have their heart broken or whatever, and they need music for that, right? And they need music for that. So it’s hard to find the right music. Not everyone has the right list or knows a DJ.”

Let's assume first you are not being sexist because you assume that is a girls problem..kind of a stretch but okay.

If I accept that, you are saying women, if they were talking about those things, would not know how to find breakup music?

That is pretty much every song ever.

Like literally every song ever….In the 80’s Big Black put out an album called “More Songs About Fucking” they were saying the whole music industry is based around nothing but love songs….It is over 30 years since then and that is still pretty much the case...No?

Men know this...women know this...everyone knows this.

Hell, even I know that 3/4s of Taylor Swift’s catalog is breakup songs (and I would probably rather eat my own liver than listen to TS)...you are saying women need you (or your curators) to know what to listen to?

Even if I accept your explanation, are you the most paternalistic man on earth, the most clueless, or the most underprepared?

And the idea that not everyone knows a DJ? Have you heard of Pandora? You enter in stuff you like, and for like 10 years now, they play songs you would like….Or how about Spotify, where you can check out every playlist every friend of yours listens to...Or how about….well, anything.

You want us to believe that you don’t know any of this?

It really feels still, even post apology, like you were sitting around the Iovene cave and said

We need a marketing strategy for our service to women….

“I have the answer, I can tell women the right breakup music to listen to…”

“Because women don’t know breakup music”

“And one thing women need is breakup music”

“Because, all they do is sit around talking about men.”

How does your explanation explain away any of that….Just because you think all people (men and women) need music curation? And access to breakup songs?

I am trying to imagine this scene of a group of women meeting to talk about those damn disappointing men...but wondering “is there a place we could find songs about men being to blame for a breakup.”

Then, out of nowhere, wearing his Apple superhero costume comes Jimmy Iovene ready to save the day…”Oh, I know of a place...Ladies”

Building A Better Jimmy Iovine Apology

We all have moments of stupidity.

It is probably not optimal to appear on television to launch your marketing directed towards women and then say a bunch of stuff that offends women.

I guess I am saying be prepared?

But, once you finish making the mess...Maybe just go over the apology a bit.

How about something like this:

I just reread what I said on CBS earlier this week, my comments were really paternalistic and stupid.

Women do not need me to explain music to them. What I should have said, but didn’t, was that our service has a TON of great people curating...Including great artists like Mary J. Blige (who was sitting right next to me).

Whatever kind of music you like, we probably have someone curating. Which could save busy people time and/or help people find songs that they might not have been exposed to otherwise. We hope we help bring people and music together in new ways.

I really just said a bunch of really silly and ill-conceived things, and I apologize. I should have prepared more for the interview.

I also need to take time to consider my thoughts and question my conclusions.

I feel horrible, and apologize for offending so many of our great Apple fans.

Apologetically Yours,

Jimmy

I am not saying it fixes everything, but at least it’s not the “Who Me” apology you gave...or the “My best friends are women” apology.

I guess what I am saying is that the apology is often worse than the original offense….And remember, this is a guy trying to launch a product in a way that appeals to women….My goodness.

The "He Man" Marketing Machine

There might be something to the idea that marketing inherently breeds "isms" because it is a business that tries to root out tendencies (which ultimately could be called stereotypes) and use those to sell products.

It is why men always find beer attached to women in bikinis. Men like women in bikinis + marketers want to tie product to this "like" button in men's brains.

It is why marketers sell the idea that all women think about is family, home goods, cooking, and shoes. Research tells them women buy these things, so, BOOM ad campaigns.

Jimmy Iovine may have just been contextualizing his own market research.

But, the problem is, while people might sometimes fit into shopping categories, they don't like being defined by those categories socially.

Not at all.

In other words, our brains might respond to the connection of certain images and have our purchasing behavior stimulated...But those purchasing behaviors do not always have anything to do with how we define ourselves as human beings.

It might be wrong to market using these cues...That is a topic for a different discussion. But, even if we do tend to follow shopping patterns, we still do not want to become stereotypes.

If a woman likes to buy shoes, she probably doesn't want to be defined by that behavior.

If a man drinks beer and watches football, he probably doesn't want people to describe him as the sum of these behaviors.

Jimmy Iovine was probably guilty of thinking people are what his demographic information tells him they are.

But people are complex and fierce, for instance, I have cognitive dissonance over football and the NFL right now, but I still watch football sometimes.

I am both participating and resisting the stereotype...often at the exact same time.

I think what we all should try to do is see people less for their stereotypical actions and more for their complex relationships to those actions.

This is not to say that he is right that women sit around talking about men and just need some music mansplaining to make it all better.

But, I suspect he was thinking more like a marketing algorithm and less like a human being.

What did you think of Mr. Iovine's statement? Of his apology? Feel free to comment, I love hearing your opinions!

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