makita-girls-2015-WhatIt’s 2018, and I’m Still Wondering Where are the Real Makita Girls?

Back when I first published this post, I never thought I’d be resurrecting it from the archives. Then Simone Giertz shared this tweet and my anger and frustration at Makita boiled over again. The video Simone was referencing has been taken down by Makita, but here’s another upload of the Makita Girls behind the scenes video:

It’s been three years Makita, why are you still using the same tired marketing campaign? Your transparent attempts at finding spokeswomen who actually use power tools is laughable. My 14 year old son even pointed out that Miss Makita can’t actually build shelves with a sander. Sure, she can finish them with a sander, but any avid power tool user would not choose a sander as their favorite power tool (give me a recip saw or a sliding compound miter saw any day over a sander!)

In the three years that have passed since I was angered by Makita’s Miss and Senorita Makita campaign, I added four expensive power tools to my toolbox. And you know what? I consciously steered clear of the Makita brand because I don’t want to support a brand that objectifies women and doesn’t recognize that there are many of us that use power tools for more than “building shelves.”

Get it together Makita! It’s 2018, time to retire the women in bikinis and find a woman who gets her nails at the hardware store (not the salon.) There are so many women who can guide potential buyers to purchase tools based on their expert opinions. Let’s see this campaign retired or start searching for all the women makers, contractors and builders out there. Am I right?

This is my open letter to Makita in 2015:

Oh Makita, why did you have to go and do this?!

Makita announced its 2015 Makita Girls and where you can go to meet them. Initially, I reserved my opinion until I learned more about these new spokesmodels. But, after reading their bios, I was angered. Not a single mention of enjoying woodworking, building or carpentry. Where is the DIY love? What will they talk about at these appearances?  I’m disappointed that Makita would choose their spokesmodels for looks and not skills. And, I question their decision to maintain an advertising program that perpetuates the stereotype that only men use their tools.

Don’t they realize that they are alienating a huge growing market of DIY women? Would I have been offended if they selected an attractive woman who had Mad-DIY skills? Definitely not.

If they wanted beautiful women using tools, there is no shortage of kick ass female builders out there. This ever changing world of Do It Yourselfers is filled to the brim with amazing “Real Makita Girls.” Some of these women have the right to hold their Makita tools proudly. They can tell you the difference between a bevel and a miter; a cross cut vs. a rip cut and they know that brushless is a good thing and has nothing to do with long flowing locks of hair! These women choose quality tools that are strong enough to stand up to the current and future projects they are completing.

Am I angry? Yes! Am I going to stop using Makita tools? No, because frankly they make great tools. My Makita 10″ Compound Sliding Miter Saw is my baby:

Makita Girls | Pretty Handy Girl

It’s the first tool I’d truly cry over if it was stolen. This saw has been with me through 100’s of projects, a kitchen remodel and countless fixes. I have never had to adjust the laser or to square up the tool. It is a quality power saw made with aluminum and metal parts, not cheap plastic. But, despite my undying love for my Makita tools, their advertising tactics make me embarrassed to confess my love.

Do you want to help me change the search results right here and now? Let’s show Makita what a Real Makita Girl is. Please visit these accomplished builders and DIYers. Pin their images and title it “Real Makita Girl” or use the hashtag #RealMakitaGirls.

Makita Girls | Pretty Handy Girl
Sara Bendrick – Landscape Designer, Woodworker and DIYNetwork TV Host of I Hate My Yard


Makita Girls | Pretty Handy Girl
Kit – Blogger, Builder and Kick Ass DIYer at DIYDiva.net

Makita Girls | Pretty Handy Girl
Kim – Blogger, Builder and Creative Genius at TheKimSixFix.com

Hey, do you use Makita tools, too? If so, show me your…tools! (Email me pictures of yourself using your Makita tools, to PrettyHandyGirl (at) gmail.com. I’ll add your photo to this post.)  Let’s take over the search term “Makita Girls” and show them what a Real Makita Girl is!

#RealMakitaGirlsMary Hunnicutt another one of many #RealMakitaGirls

Cottage at the Crossroads #RealMakitaGirlsJane from Cottage at the Crossroads

In the meantime, I have to ask:

Makita, when you make awesome tools, why do you have to stoop to such slimy advertising tactics? The 1980’s called, and they want their tight spandex and scantily clad women back. Please remove the blinders and take notice of your growing customer base.  Women are shopping in the tool department. They are your consumers. They are smart and savvy. They want to purchase tools that will last. They want to hear about what makes a Makita tool great and why they should spend a little more to purchase a tool that won’t fall apart in a year or two.

A few weeks after this post was published in 2015: I spoke to Wayne Hart, the communications manager at Makita tools after this post initially published. We had a pleasant conversation and he seemed to understand my concerns about the Miss Makita and Senorita Makita models. I offered to let Mr. Hart make a statement to my readers but never heard back from him. In the meantime, the program has continued in 2016 and 2017, but I noticed that at least two of the models have used some of the tools outside the program. At least that’s some progress, right!? What do you think about tool companies continuing to use models as spokeswomen?

PHGFancySign

Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this post are my own. Sara, Kit, and Kim are DIY women I admire. They gave me permission to use their photos, but that doesn’t mean that they endorse what I have written in this post. 

133 replies
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  1. wilma
    wilma says:

    Augh!!!!!!! That sums up my response. And it’s WOMEN, not GIRLS. Using the word girls rather than women is just another way of diminishing the role and power of women. Words matter.

    Reply
    • wilma
      wilma says:

      Postnote: I think it’s different when women refer to themselves as girls, or in a group with their friends, or whatever, than when companies or other entities refer to women as girls.

      Reply
  2. Adam
    Adam says:

    This is the exact same reason I stopped using GoDaddy for my websites: it used to be a great inexpensive web-service, then suddenly they decided that racy models were what was missing from their business.

    Clearly there needs to be a shake-up in the ad department of Makita, inc.

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      I assume you aren’t including Danika Patrick as a racy model. I think she’s earned the respect in a male-dominated field. I do agree with you, Makita needs to take notice that they are alienating a segment of their customer base.

      Reply
  3. Aggie
    Aggie says:

    I grew up with Makita girl calendars in my dad’s workshop. I remember feeling like a deer in a room full of hunting trophies, and thinking my body was not good enough. I was twelve.

    Reply
  4. Robert Rada
    Robert Rada says:

    Makita makes great tools, but I don’t buy their product. Their marketing insults my intelligence. I’m only 34 years old, so I don’t remember a time before “Miss Makita” calendars and posters and whatnot.

    Reply
  5. Mary
    Mary says:

    Brittany,
    Thanks for featuring my picture! Lets show Makita what a real WOMAN looks like, who knows how to actually use the tools!

    Reply
  6. Funky Junk Interiors
    Funky Junk Interiors says:

    Well Brittany, I have to hand it to you. You know your tools, therefore you’re the perfect spokesmodel for this one.

    Before all this, I attempted to contact Makita to somehow put a positive spin on average women working with their tools. They responded with:

    “At this time we are focusing our product placement efforts on jobsites, skills training, and sponsored teams and athletes in racing and action sports.”

    Doesn’t exactly sound like the perfect place to target women that want to create.

    Which is fine. Not every company desires to be a part of the millions of DIY bloggers and their own communities, work with those that attend conferences and teaching workshops, or weekend DIY opportunities where locals can walk into a big box store and learn how to build for the first time.

    I’m just unsure why.

    Maybe this is what it’ll take to get the message heard?

    Makita, bloggers have a LOT to offer your tools and your company. Love your stuff. I’d be the first in line.

    If only you’d give us a chance…

    Reply
  7. Christina
    Christina says:

    Thanks for the heads up Brittany! My post on their Facebook page: “Wow, your new “Makita girls”… are they under 13 because that is, I believe, when you call women girls. Also, why not put them in string/thong bikinis? Truly a sad time in Makita history. You chose not to take the high road and use REAL users of your tools who promote the hell out of your great products. Hmmmmm might have to look elsewhere for my tools if this is all you think of women. Misogyny of 2015… you disappoint so many Makita. A sad, sad day.”

    Reply
  8. Khadija
    Khadija says:

    Yeah, like we have our boobs hanging out while doing diy.
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
    What a degrading ad!!!

    Reply
  9. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    You go girl!! This company must not have a woman in any position of power in their corporate office, or this “campaign” would never have happened. I have always had the tools in our family. My husband can hardly use a screwdriver. Companies need to realize a lot of women buy their tools and construction products. We don’t just decorate, we build!!

    Reply
  10. Priscilla
    Priscilla says:

    I wonder if they DO realize that most of their customer base is now women, and this is their way to bring men back into the market? Either way, I agree that this was a really bad move on their part.

    Reply
  11. SheilaG @ Plum Doodles
    SheilaG @ Plum Doodles says:

    I haven’t seen those ads, so I’m glad you sent out the alert. Ugh! Though I don’t have any of their tools, they have always been the “someday” in my toolbox wish list. I’m thinking the idiots in marketing don’t also design tools, thank goodness.

    Reply
  12. Julie - Being Home
    Julie - Being Home says:

    Yep, NOT impressed! Sorry, I will not be buying their products. Nope! Sorry, not sorry.

    I use Rigid and DeWalt and if they started this kind of advertising crap, I would stop purchasing their products.

    Well, I guess Makita does not want true Makita Girls (I mean women) who actually know how to use power tools. Asinine marketing move and I better not see those girly posters at HD or Lowes. What a messed up impression to little kids (shopping with mom) getting tools and supplies to build stuff with mom. 🙂

    Reply
  13. Serena @ Thrift Diving
    Serena @ Thrift Diving says:

    I have to say….this looks sooooo ODD. I could see if they were hot girls in work pants, fully clothed, with saw dust on them. But this just looks like some Rent-a-Boob chicks that think just by holding a power drill, with fake windblown hair, that this will sell. Well, then again, it probably will, to MEN. But there is a whole bunch of women who will resort to other brands, and that means, they’re missing a huge target population of DIYers like us. Over-the-top marketing….They’re marketing president needs a swift kick in the butt. 🙂

    Serena @ Thrift Diving

    Reply
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