Half of the story found in Brandsplaining reveals what the marketing industry makes for female audiences, and their analysis of the assumptions that are inherent in many ad campaigns is initially depressing - and then curiously inspiring. It charts the way in which the feminine mystique gave way to ‘fempowerment’ from the 1990s onwards. Ostensibly liberating, this way of thinking about women turns out to be just a ‘sneaky’ way of further disenfranchising women by the back door. But a more hopeful picture for the future is painted in the shape of brands that are made for women by women: see the success of brands led by female founders such as Starling Bank.

This leads on to the second message of the book: who makes the ads? Understanding ‘what women want’ is a hard task if you are not a woman: in the movie of the same name, Mel Gibson had to be electrocuted to be able to listen to female desires. But there’s a simple solution: why not hire more women to make the ads? And not just at the bottom of the organisation, but right at the top, where the decisions are made?

This seems like good public policy – and good business sense. While it is possible for male executives to ‘get inside the heads’ of a female audience, it is more of an effort than it is, say, for female executives.

The same logic holds true for age groups or ethnic identities. A young, ambitious ad exec has to work very hard to empathise with the lived experience of an older, more established audience – but that comes as standard with his older colleagues. What makes us think that a white researcher has an Olympian view that makes it easy to understand a multi-ethnic audience, but this is denied to a researcher from a more diverse background?

By changing the make-up of the marketing team, we may well change the marketing that gets made. It’s something that the team at Lumen need to take very seriously: many of the accusations levelled at the ad industry could just as well be levelled at us. But this is happening, and Phillipa and Jane’s book has helped to make it happen faster.