As you know from my previous rants on the subject, I am involved in
encouraging young women to enter technical fields, and from that aspect,
Garnett's ad is great. Too bad it didn't run in teen magazines. Young
females are very concerned with image, and if the image of women in
technical fields is severely-dressed women with glasses and their hair in
buns, or sloppy developers, this discourages them. The stereotype in the
masses is that techie females are probably ugly. Example: A friend of mine
brought her engineering yearbook home from college and her mother was
surprised to see that "some of these girls are actually pretty!".
Also, I don't know why the men in the industry seem to get so much more
press -- maybe it's just the size of the company. I hope someday a female
exec gets some real media exposure, because right now young girls don't
exactly key on Bill Gates as a role model.
Maybe I should find a copy of this ad so I can bring it to my conference
workshops with girls...
I'd like to point out that other high-tech companies have sold themselves
based on who runs them.
Can anybody else whom this ad bothers put a finger on why it bothers them?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rohit Khare [SMTP:email@example.com]
> Sent: Monday, October 26, 1998 9:59 PM
> To: FoRK
> Subject: That Dress... no, Katrina Garnett's, not Monica's...
> It still bothers me... I know the real goal wasn't even to sell Enterprise
> Software -- whatever that is -- but to sell *stock*: to get the company on
> potential IPO subscribers' radar screens. So it works, and as an economist
> have to favor that, and politically, Katrina's right, too: it is a
> statement about gender. I guess what annoys me is that this is *supposed*
> be a business about stuff, not people :-)
> Well, OK, I know that's wrong, too. EVERYTHING is a people business. So
> just at a flat out loss to say why that campaign of hers bothers me. At
> least it got us the wonderful shot back across the bow from Junglee, right
> before Amazon bought them out... Go visit both URLs for the photos:
> Naked Business
> June 23, 1998
> By Tia O'Brien
> My niece and I are sitting here looking at an ad in the New York Times
> Magazine. The question is ... what's on sale? We're not sure.
> Let's just say that our focus is drawn to CEO Katrina Garnett's plunging
> neckline, not to the tiny, tiny print mentioning the enterprise
> products of her startup, CrossWorlds Software Inc.
> All I see when I look at this full-page color ad are the words "Trail
> Blazer" and Garnett's taut, buffed body looking mighty sexy in a skimpy
> black cocktail-style dress. With that earnest look and her cocktail dress,
> Garnett could be hawking Bombay gin.
> But I'm not a techie, so in the name of fairness, I handed the ad to my
> niece, a generation X-er who's worked in the Valley for several years.
> puzzled. "Is this an ad?" she asks. "It looks more like an article about
> top 50 most beautiful people in the business world. My instinct is to just
> flip past her and see if there's anyone I know."
> Is this the response CrossWorlds is looking for? CEO as Babe? Confusion
> whether this is an advertisement or a "beautiful people" spread?
> If I was a CrossWorlds investor, I'd question dropping $1 million to
> CrossWorlds a la Garnett's body in such publications as Forbes, Fortune,
> political magazine George, Vanity Fair and even Variety. (The price tag
> includes a companion TV campaign on CNBC that features Garnett in attire
> other than the cocktail dress.)
> But Garnett is thrilled. "It's been way more successful than I dreamed.
> Every customer I've called on has seen it!" boasts Garnett as we chat on
> She can't quite understand what all the fuss is about. For the record, she
> says, "I have almost no cleavage. Maybe it shows how parochial the
> industry is."
> She gives her husband, Venrock Associates venture capitalist Terence
> Garnett, chairman of CrossWorlds' board, full credit for dreaming up this
> unusual branding campaign. "A lot of the CIOs I work with are women. Most
> them like to buy a relationship, not just software. I'm putting a face on
> the company."
> That's one way to put it.
> So, if this is just one more effort to promote a dull technology company
> turning the CEO into a personality--think Bill Gates--then why is she the
> butt of so many Valley jokes and critics who predict the campaign won't
> boost sales for the startup?
> Suggests Garnett, "Maybe they're jealous. There are a lot of people who
> can't wear that dress. Here I am showing that you don't have to look a
> certain way to be in technology, showing myself as a woman, and I am
> "Who suggested you wear the dress?" I ask, figuring she'll blame the
> on some insensitive, unenlightened marketing guy.
> "I chose the dress myself," says the CEO, who takes pride in her
> as a feminist--she's founded an organization that encourages young girls
> pursue high-tech careers. "I wear that dress often. It's a statement about
> who I am."
> Well, that's not exactly the same image Garnett was trying to project just
> one year ago.
> Check the news clips.
> In June of 1997, Garnett was studiously cultivating an image as an
> ambitious, serious, polished executive. When her startup was picked for a
> magazine's 20 "coolest" companies list, she refused a photographer's
> to pose in a bubble bath, on her bed or by the pool.
> Garnett explained her rationale in an UPSIDE story: "I said, 'We're going
> be using this article for a long, long time, and that's not something we
> want to hand out to CEOs that we want to take me seriously."
> She also told the UPSIDE reporter why she wears unrevealing Armani pants
> suits: "They're more androgynous. I don't want to be overly noticed in the
> executive meetings. I want to fit in like a man."
> So what's with the cocktail dress? Garnett spells out her dilemma: They
> to make CrossWorlds stand out among its competitors.
> "What else should I have been wearing that would have provoked this much
> interest?" she asks me. "Standing there with golf clubs wouldn't be quite
> the same thing."
> Before selecting the photo for the ad--taken by celebrity photographer
> Richard Avedon--they tested several shots with employees of Crossworlds.
> "People said this one looked the most corporate, confident, powerful and
> too sexy."
> I'd love a look at the rejects.
> This shot was Garnett's first choice. "I'm not smiling--other photos show
> smiling. There are too many teeth," notes Garnett, who sounds a bit
> Isn't Garnett just a tad concerned about sending the wrong message to
> women who want to pursue careers based on their brains, not Barbie Doll
> bodies? She acknowledges receiving one angry email from a woman who
> her of failing as a role model.
> "But I've received hundreds of other emails saying, "It's great to see a
> woman who's not trying to fit the corporate mold."
> The bottom line here is simple: Will this branding campaign boost
> CrossWorld's sales? The answer is no--if people don't even bother reading
> the small column of minuscule type next to the photo and learn that
> CrossWorlds sells enterprise software.
> I go back to my own focus group--my niece (we'll call her Betty so she
> can have lunch in the Valley)--and ask her to take another look at the
> The Harvard grad pulls up a chair. "My first thought is, 'Where did she
> her dress? Where does she work out?' Seriously."
> I gently explain that apparently this is not supposed to be about
> physical assets, but about her highly respected startup. I direct her to
> fine print.
> She starts reading down a thin side column of vital statistics, stuff like
> "Age: younger than Bill Gates, older than Michael Dell."
> "Birthplace: Australia's gold coast."
> "Background: Ten years on the firing line at Oracle and Sybase."
> "Recent Thrill: Flying 360 degree inverted loops in an SF260 Marchetti."
> "Mission: Build software applications that unite the operations of global
> Betty chuckles, "Well, that's about as vague as it gets. I can name five
> companies trying to do the same thing. And they're not startups."
> She skims the rest of the text. "It doesn't say if she's got a family, and
> you can't tell if she's married since her hands are behind her back and
> can't see a ring." (Garnett's the proud mother of a young daughter and
> but hell, toddlers and sex appeal just don't mix.)
> Maybe both Betty and I are too nurtured on women's liberation to see the
> light. But maybe young girls will see this picture and say, "I want to be
> CEO, too."
> So I show the ad to my 8-year-old daughter. She starts giggling, "Her
> boobies are showing! Who is she?" When I explain that Katrina Garnett is
> important businesswoman who's trying to sell computer products, my
> looks thoughtful and suggests, "She should put pictures of computers on
> dress. Then people will understand what she is selling."
> Naked Business
> No Wonderbra for This Cross-Dressing CEO
> July 22, 1998
> By Tia O'Brien
> "Now bring your eyes to me, press your lips together and smile!" coaches
> UPSIDE photographer.
> "I don't know why the Junglee board doesn't take me seriously."CEO Rakesh
> Mathur flashes his most coquettish look. And what a look.
> If I might say so, Mathur, CEO of Junglee Corp., looks quite fetching in
> black cocktail dress. Instead of breasts, tufts of chest hair peek out
> his plunging neckline. Thankfully, the picture cuts off at his hem line,
> hiding Mathur's muscular, hairy calves, argyle socks and topsiders.
> "This is a bold move, yes! But we are trying to separate ourselves from
> pack," explains Mathur as he thrusts out his chest to reveal a bit more
> "I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille."
> A Silicon Valley CEO doing whatever it takes to win recognition for
> astartup? Where have I heard that before? Technology developed by
> two-year-old Junglee is already touted for its ability to turn a jungle of
> Web sites into a superstore so users can comparison shop online. But the
> competition is brutal.
> And so when Mathur and his scrappy staff at Junglee spotted CEO Katrina
> Garnett in the New York Times(and Forbes, Fortune, the New Yorker and
> advertising CrossWorlds, her enterprise software startup, in a revealing
> black cocktail dress, they knew she was onto something. (Her logic--if
> that's the right word--is explained in "CEO in the Flesh.")
> "Sure, Mr. Jobs, I'll lend you my dress. Anything to help the Apple."To
> date, no other CEO in Silicon Valley has tried to boost sales and
> recognition by selling software with breast power. Industry sources tell
> that Garnett's ad blitz, costing something on the order of $1 million, has
> infuriated some board members, who can't see how a full-page glamour shot
> Australia native Garnett will help the company. The only mention of
> CrossWorlds is in tiny print. The board was kept in the dark about this
> unusual marketing strategy.
> Details, details. When brilliance strikes, who needs a board for approval?
> doubt that Mathur, a native of India, got a nod from Junglee's board for
> little excursion into cross-dressing. Lacking a major advertising budget
> this promotional stunt, aides asked UPSIDE if he could appear in this
> column, trying to out-dress Garnett.
> "CEO on the go."
> Mathur admits he was a smidge hesitant when the stunt was first pitched to
> him. But in the spirit of all great innovators, and with an eye on
> "Trail Blazer" ad, Mathur countered with a dare of his own: If he could
> Junglee shopping software online and assemble a Garnett look-alike outfit,
> he would model the dress.
> "We took her idea to the next level. We related it to our product," says
> Mathur, pursing his lips for his best "naughty" look. "If I can put
> a glamour outfit on the Net, then online shopping is ready for consumers."
> Understand the distinction here. Garnett was hawking a name and her bod.
> Mathur is attracting attention to his product.