'Diana', the women's magazine of a bank to attract clients in the 70s

Susana Martinez-Rodriguez

SUSANA MARTINEZ-RODRIGUEZ University Professor in History and Economic Institutions, University of Murcia

In 1969, Banco de Bilbao, one of the most important Spanish banks of the time, launched Diana, a women's magazine whose main objective was to attract female clients. Why a magazine aimed exclusively at women? Because the entity was aware of the poor financial education of Spanish women and a publication of this type gave them the possibility of offering them financial products, teaching them their uses and promoting their consumption.

The initiative, a pioneer in Spain, followed in the footsteps of the interest that women had aroused in banking throughout Europe. In France, the recruitment of financial clients intensified once married women were able, in 1965, to open a current account in their name, without the consent of their husband.

Banks realized the convenience of educating women about the advantages of financial products: flexible loans, credit cards, and savings and debit products.

Women had less access to banking entities and less financial education. Hence, the banks thought that advertising could be a good instrument to transform them into consumers of banking products.

It is paradoxical that even today surveys show that men have more financial knowledge than women, and this has an economic impact.

New times, new clients

In the 1960s, although still under the Franco dictatorship, things were beginning to change in Spain. Women began to enjoy greater civil and labor rights. Loopholes of freedom appeared, for example in the press, and there began to be a greater openness to foreign novelties. Even so, there was still no legal equality between men and women.

Until 1975, the marital license did not disappear, the legal authorization that, in Spain, married women needed from their husbands, to carry out various acts of legal and patrimonial content. However, private banks (perhaps influenced by their French colleagues) set out to conquer female clients through advertising campaigns that were reflected, above all, in the press.

This editorial initiative of BB stands out because it was one of the strongest banks of the time and because its initiative connects with an international trend.

The dimension of the strategy to attract female clients was unprecedented. It launched an advertising campaign announcing the opening, in its main agencies, of the Women's Bank and created Diana magazine for its clients.

The magazine was aimed at women with resources and training, offering them typical content of women's magazines (home, fashion, beauty...), although it later put the emphasis on the professionalization of women.

Diana emulated fashion magazines, using models on her covers and giving fashion a starring role.

When the magazine opened its focus to professional women, it tackled new topics: the world of work and the importance of higher education. However, it continued to offer content related to fashion and beauty, without questioning the traditional female role.

Diana offered her readers financial advice through the information she provided about the bank's products. In addition to the fact that women went to banking facilities less frequently than men, once there they did not receive the same advice as men. Thus, the magazine was a channel to bring financial information to the private sphere of the interested parties.

Diana magazine cover.

Why a women's magazine with financial content?

The Freedom of the Press Act of 1966 led to an increase in the number of publications and in the variety of their content. In the 1970s, women's magazines experienced tremendous growth in Spain due to the rise of consumerism and the incorporation of women into economic life.

Meanwhile, banking advertising had been characterized by giving the client a formal and courteous treatment to inform him of its products and advantages, since the seriousness of the corporate image did not allow any concession to proximity. However, fashion and beauty became new communication tools, essential to attract clients. Advertising began to sell financial products and pleasant lifestyles, generating aspirations in readers and giving them recipes on how to fulfill them.

We have made a detailed study of the contents published in Diana between 1969 and 1978.

The advertisements were inserted on the back covers, spaces of great publicity value, and came from the magazine's financing entity. The content varied but followed a prescribed sequence: slogan, logo and name of the financial product advertised.

A BB advertisement aimed at women from 1969.

Analysis of such financial advertising revealed three standard features:

1. The use of colloquial language, using the familiar and informal form of you and direct questions that simulated dialogues, to explain financial and technological news.

2. Didactic and pedagogical descriptions of the products, adapted to a non-expert customer profile.

3. A careful image so that the reader sees herself as a potential user of financial instruments.

Financial education with a gender perspective

Were private banking institutions the first to realize that women's access to finance favored the generation of social wealth? The work of these institutions to educate women in finance through informal instruments – at a historical moment prior to the appearance of the concept of financial education – opens a debate on the bias that can be introduced in the dissemination of information.

In the 1980s, some Anglo-Saxon financial institutions recognized that women could be a profitable market segment and introduced policies that positively discriminated against them. The fact that a bank has made similar decisions in Spain reinforces the relevance of this research for future international comparisons.

Diana was an advertising medium, but the magazine was also aware of its social role, which is evidenced by the explicit references to its commitment to equality and women's rights. This study underlines the importance of disclosure to empower women with information on financial resources, although the magazine's leitmotif was, above all, economic.

The discussion shows the construction of an innovative narrative in Spain, although it has also been critically evaluated because its female representations are subject to the canon of women's magazines. Future research will provide more information on the initiatives of financial institutions to attract female clients.

This article has been published in 'The Conversation'.

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