Kwikfit Fail

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This week, I got some post from KwikFit. Addressed to “Mrs.” me (incorrect title) on a bright bubble-gum pink background, it advertised a ‘Ladies Only’ evening for car owners.

On turning the card over, I discovered that it planned to cover:
– Whether your car had enough petrol for your journey
– How to check the oil
– How to check the water level
– How to see whether your lightbulbs were working
– Whether your tires were up to scratch

I guess I’d better start forgetting how to check all those things, then (along with passing the Haynes manual I own and use to someone male), because apparently I shouldn’t know anything about them – regardless of the fact that most of those were necessary to know to pass my driving test.

Anyone want to put money on whether they have a blue-backgrounded ‘Men Only’ evening? Oh, sorry – that’d be silly. #MFIF

Deirdre

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20 Responses to “Kwikfit Fail”

  1. Jen Says:

    Perhaps the ‘men only’ classes could include how to maintain control of your car whilst leering/shouting/hanging out of the window like a dog when they drive past a woman…

    Seriously though – how effective can that marketing campaign possibly be?! I’d like to have heard the conversation that decided it…

  2. Lyris Says:

    I’m glad that women are just as pissed off at “Women-only” events as I am. I always figured that they were insulting to both “sides” (and I use the term “sides” ironically).

  3. Sarah Says:

    I don’t have a car but I think I’d feel more comfortable learning about them in a women-only environment, to be honest. I also think it would be great to have men-only events but don’t know how many men would be willing to admit what they don’t know about their cars. But perhaps that’s terribly sexist of me to say so.

  4. Lyris Says:

    Feel some sympathy for me, I’d hate to have to sit with a bunch of “blokey” lads. Maybe we should have a “Manly men” event and an “everyone else” one…

  5. Dude Says:

    I’m a dude and I know nothing about cars. I would just check Google.
    And although the advertisement is sexist, it’s probably effective too. I’m guessing that women know less about cars than guys in general (I don’t know for sure). Companies that advertise towards a target audience are more successful.

  6. Katia Says:

    My usual car place had one of these (it was the idea of the owner’s wife, who also works there). I went.

    I was a bit insulted by it, but I understand that some women are intimidated by learning stuff like that in front of men (I’m personally not, but okay). I also understand that not all women have someone to teach them that stuff (let’s face it, boys are probably taught by default, just like girls are, by default, NOT taught, so a woman is more likely to need to learn it later in life). I also figured they probably WOULDN’T have a class like that for the general public, so if I wanted to go and learn something, this would be my chance.

    I honestly think they just wanted to do something for their women customers–I’ve never been talked down to there as a woman nor seen it happen to other women I’ve seen there. I also think it’s probably not something that the guys there would’ve thought of without the prompting of a woman (who for all I know, may’ve listened to countless female customers say how they wish they knew more about car care and was spurred to action), so…

  7. Rikibeth Says:

    You’d think they could have just called it “Cars 101 — For new drivers or anyone else interested in safety and maintenance basics!” and then listed the covered topics. Because, seriously, when I was a teenager, I knew plenty of people male AND female who needed to be shown some of that. Me, I had my dad showing me how to tweak the idle set screw on a carburetor — mostly because I learned to drive on an elderly station wagon that NEEDED that tweaked pretty often or it wouldn’t run right. It was annoying, sure, but it did let me know that cars weren’t that intimidating. But plenty of people ARE intimidated, and could use those lessons. REGARDLESS OF GENDER.

  8. snobographer Says:

    They could have just made it a “basics of automotive maintenance” class and left sex and gender out of it. Yes I think women tend to know less about cars than men, but that’s just because people have historically been less likely to talk to girls about cars as they’re growing up, because girls don’t understand cars. See the cycle? How to check your fluid levels isn’t inherent knowledge that just comes along with having a y chromosome.
    The men I know who grew up in commuter cities know less about cars than women like me who grew up in more rural or suburban areas where car-ownership is pretty much a necessity.

  9. Nic Says:

    It would be one thing if they were teaching actual useful things like adding air to yrou tires or changing your own oil, headlamps or windshield wipers. But the things that ad listed were things any idiot with a set of keys should know. It sort of frightens me that there are people driving who don’t know those sorts of things. Then again my daddy wouldn’t take me to my driver’s test until I could change a tire.

  10. A Different Sam Says:

    “Ladies Only” things are bad enough in general, but what makes this particularly insulting is just how basic most of this stuff is. How do you see whether your lightbulbs are working? You try turning them on and see if they actually turn on, of course! You wouldn’t see that sort of information in a “Men Only” event, even if such a thing were to exist; apparently, being a woman means you don’t have a functioning brain.

  11. justme Says:

    Can’t agree here. I’m female, and I know very little about cars. Why? My father doesn’t know much about them, and neither does my mother. I can tell you when something’s wrong with my car (usually during the early stages when it’s hard to pinpoint…I’m in tune with my car) and I know when to take it in, but that’s about it. Changing my own wipers a few years ago was a huge event for me. I don’t change flats–I have AAA here in the States. I know in theory how to jump a car, but that’s what AAA is for too. My car tells me when any lights are out. (A Different Sam–please tell me how I am to test my brake lights without assistance? I cannot hit the brakes while simultaneously going round the back and checking if they lit up. Really. Functioning brain, indeed.) I can’t replace my own brakes, but I can tell you when they’re worn.

    I know plenty of women my age (late twenties) who own their own cars and can’t do most of those things. They’d love to learn in an environment where there are no smirking males.

    I also know damn well that if I go anywhere but the one auto shop where they know me and my father that I had better bring a male because otherwise I’m brushed off and told they’ll find out what’s wrong…if I caught it early enough, they won’t find the problem. My usual auto shop tends to listen intently, have a look, and congratulate me on catching something that could have been much more expensive had it gone on.

  12. The Heff Says:

    Perhaps (and this is a perhaps) there was a reason behind this. Perhaps the garage had run evenings before and some women had suggested on the comments form that a ‘woman’s evening’ might be a better environment to learn in.
    Perhaps the number of minor car problems like oil and tyre changes are higher for women.
    Or it could be a well meaning but mis-judged marketing ploy.

    You’d need to ask Kwik-Fit.

  13. Chris Bosworth Says:

    Hi All,

    I’m Chris Bosworth, Marketing Director at Kwik Fit. The wonders of Google alerts brought me to your blog and I wanted to share a couple of comments if I can.

    Firstly an apology to MFIF, if we offended you then I’m sorry. We have been running Ladies’ Evenings for a while now in different locations across the UK and the reaction has been really good – it is this that encourages us to keep going. We recently appointed a female manager in our Exmouth centre where we held this particular event – and reacted to the comments of many of our female customers who expressed an interest in learning more about their cars from another woman. We try to get an environment where everyone is comfortable to ask questions about their cars, from the more basic to the advanced. No-one laughs or is made to feel that ‘they should have known that’.. our centre teams try to go through things at the speed that the group is comfortable, with lots of practical examples using the participants own cars. We pitched the invite to try to make it look unintimidating.

    We aim at people who are keen to learn a bit to help make them safe and prepared on the road.. most men are probably too proud to admit that they could do with some more knowledge, so we don’t do a men’s event.. (but maybe we should try one..). All our experience suggests that many women are more comfortable asking questions when there are no men around.

  14. mfif Says:

    Thanks for the reply Chris. On MFIF we offer stories for debate, not because we all think the same. Some people presumably like the ladies only sessions. I think the problem here was the ‘pinkness’ of it, which is a little ‘girly’. I think if women want to learn about cars with other women then that’s great. There’s just a way of promoting it that isn’t so clichéd. Really appreciate your interest though.

  15. Chris Bosworth Says:

    Point taken – we’ll get to work on some changes to the comms. Thanks for the feedback.

  16. Letter comment from Kwikfit « My Fault, I'm Female Says:

    […] comment from Kwikfit By mfif In this post on a Kwik fit marketing campaign our correspondent was pretty unhappy with the “bubblegum pink” invitation she received […]

  17. Deirdre Says:

    This is my post, and I’ve just seen the comments now.

    The thing that really irks me about this advertising campaign is the fact that the company seems to believe that (a) women know absolutely nothing about their own vehicles, and (b) this is an issue only for women. Like I mentioned, in order to pass my driving test I had to be able to check all of those things (apart from fuel, but then if you’re having problems dealing with that you’re not going to be doing much driving). The other mildly annoying part is that I can only assume that I’m on their mailing list from a wheel-balancing that I knew I needed last year. If I know that, surely I can tell if I have enough fuel.

    My (male) partner did consider going along to this event and assuming the ‘helpless female’ role, since he has very little experience with cars – but I think he’s mostly on top of that list now (we’ve been working on the tyre stuff).

    Surely a non-gender specific evening, covering a little more than the things that no driver should fail to know, would make more sense, as well as having a broader appeal? Thank you to Chris Bosworth, though, for his willingness to consider this issue.

  18. miranda Says:

    I agree, this event could have been advertised in a less sexist manner, but I personally would rather learn those things in an all-woman environment instead of having it taught to me by a man with a patronizing attitude.

  19. stickmanltd Says:

    As a man who didn’t grow up learning all that crap… can I sign up for that class? I’ve learned most of it by now just out of necessity. But there still might be a few things that I don’t even know that I’m ignorant of on those subjects.

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