What does Dell think women look for in a computer?

The computer company Dell has recently come under fire for a new ad campaign aimed at women and has taken interesting actions in response. The controversial campaign, called Della, is mostly an advertising push for a range of computers that have fancy graphic designs on their lids.

Yay! Our laptops are pretty!
Yay! Our laptops are pretty!

The Della web site shows different women using Dell computers that match their outfits — apparently every woman’s dream. The web site talks up the computers by discussing features like diet-tracking tools and the fact that the computer can fit in your purse. This is all written in a tone that tries to replicate a conversation between girlfriends, but it borders on condescension.

Now, I’m the first to admit that when looking for a new computer, the fact that computers can come in different colors was appealing. However, this is not something that is exclusively appealing to women. Not to mention the fact that processor speed, memory, and price are more important than color-coordinating one’s computer with her sweater. By underestimating women’s computer literacy and use of a computer, Della really shows a lack of respect for women computer users.

In spite of the fact that most of the information on the web site was about color choices and carrying bags, there is a Featured Artist page to draw in the women consumers. The connection between computers and the artist on the Featured Artist section can be somewhat of a mystery. Not long ago, in the Della Lounge section of the Featured Artist page, visitors got tips on vintage shopping from the author of Practically Posh: the Smart Girls’ Guide to a Glam Life. It leaves me asking What does this have to do with computers?

Dell made a mistake when they based a whole advertising campaign on the idea that women will buy anything if it’s pretty and comes with accessories. While Dell was making assumptions about their women customers, they inadvertently offended and lost some of their target audience.

With in the past few days, Dell changed some of the Della web site’s more demeaning aspects due to the strong responses of the web site’s visitors. The web site’s language is less condescending to women and now uses a more neutral tone and language that may apply to more people. In addition to this change in tone, the Featured Artist section introduces us to the woman behind the designs on some of the Dell computers, with a clear connection to the computers themselves. Because of their outspoken customers, Dell was able to recognize and rectify their mistake.

Although I wouldn’t say Dell’s campaign is now perfect, it is encouraging to see that they actually listen to their target audience. Web site visitors can leave their comments on the different sections for everyone to see (you can too if you go to their web site). Many of the comments are harsh, the fact that they have left those comments up for the public to see is a kind of apology. This, to me, shows progress.

— Ashley Yee

One thought on “What does Dell think women look for in a computer?

  1. Well, at least they responded- certainly more than other companies do.

    And it’s sort of hard to reconcile my views sometimes- I DO love the pretty laptops! But yes, I also care about performance. Good thing companies are learning that.

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