Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Is the boy in the Moschino Barbie ad a leap forward?

That wasn't a rhetorical question. While I applaud gender diversity in a traditionally female toy category, the portrayal of the boy seems a little... umm... stereotyped?

A video posted by Jeremy Scott (@itsjeremyscott) on

Not that there's any problem whatsoever with implying that the little boy is gay, but did they have to do it with such a cartoonish cliché?

People seem pretty happy with this development (at least the Buzzfeed set) but I'm not sure this is as progressive as it seems. The idea that Barbie is an obsession for gay men is not exactly new, nor is the conspicuous presence of gay men in the fashion industry.

Making the only male character in the ad a miniature Jeremy Scott is a big wink to insiders, but what is it doing to transcend stereotypes? Heterosexual — or less stereotypically gay — boys who want to play with dolls in this sexist, homophobic world won't be helped by this stereotype. They might even be hurt by it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bank of Montreal #RemembranceDay campaign does an about-face

A couple of days ago, I spotted this ad on Facebook:

Nice, eh? Except not really. It's a big bank, and they made a $1.2-billion profit in the third quarter of 2015. And they're buying social media engagement for $1 a pop?

I complained on Twitter, as did many other Canadians, but someone much more famous than most of us really got their attention:

It should be noted that this Sarah Silverman is a parody account. But it — and presumably the complaints of many other Canadians — seems to have convinced BMO to revise their message earlier today:

Can you spot the difference? The full donation amount is mentioned, and it is not contingent on the number of engagements or shares. The link still goes to their Thunderclap site. Here's how the promotion is worded now:

Remembrance Day is about taking pause to remember those selfless men and women who’ve put their lives on the line for our freedom. 
On November 11 at 11am, join us in a moment of social silence to honour these brave men and women. That means no status updates. No re-tweeting. No nothing. 
On behalf of all those who participate, BMO will be giving $50,000 to The Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command Poppy Trust Fund. 
Participants have until November 11 at 10:59 a.m. local time to sign up. 
BMO proudly supports Canada’s veterans through the annual Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Campaign and our long-standing commitment to the Canadian Defence Community.
Their hearts may seem to be in the right place, but keep in mind that this is branded engagement piggybacking on a solemn national day of remembrance for Canada's war dead. No longer holding people's emotions for a $1-per-engagement ransom is a start, but don't fool yourselves: this is private sector marketing trying to earn social media reach on the cheap. Its shareholders wouldn't have it any other way, no matter how they — or the employees of the bank – feel about our soldiers and veterans. (I'm sure they are as good-hearted as the rest of us; but like any corporation the bank's job is to increase share value at all costs.)

Regardless, their YouTube video for the campaign is excellent:

Take a quiet minute tomorrow to remember. Not because it makes you look good on Facebook or Twitter. Not because a brand told you to. And not even to get them to make a token donation to a good cause.

Do it because it's right.

This is the ad that's appearing now:

That's better.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Angry evangelical Christian starts viral campaign for Starbucks

A former Arizona pastor named Joshua Feuerstein was angry that Starbucks' Christmas cups this year have no recognizable holiday motif with the exception of the colour red. He is also angry that (according to him) Starbucks employees are forbidden to use the phrase "Merry Christmas."

So he took to Facebook with this rant and a video (which you can watch here):

Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus ... SO I PRANKED THEM ... and they HATE IT!!!!  #share
Follow --> Joshua Feuerstein
Posted by Joshua Feuerstein on Thursday, November 5, 2015

Not too bright, this fellow. But his post has been viewed more than 10 million times, and shared almost 400,000 times.

Which is really good for Starbucks.

After all, people will have to buy a Starbucks coffee to be able to pull off this "prank." Depending on the demographics of Mr. Feuerstein's followers, some might even be new customers. It's the exact opposite of a boycott, and the baristas will probably be mildly amused.

That is, as long as people don't bring their guns. That's just asinine.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

France 3's sexist boast about its hiring of women

Most of TV network France 3 on-air talent are women. Great!

But what was not-so-great was how they chose to communicate their pro-woman hiring practices:

That's right! Because they hired all the women, nor cooking, cleaning, ironing, toilet-seat-putting-downing, or dog walking is getting done.

In their attempt to look anti-sexist, France 3 brought back some of the worst anti-Suffragette memes from a century ago.

9 News reports that the negative reaction to this ad went all the way to the French government, with Secrétaire d'Etat chargée des Droits des Femmes Pascale Boistard Tweeting that the ad “does not seem like a good way to promote professional equality."

It has since been pulled by the network.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ads about periods too much for MTA

I don't really like these ads much, but I don't see anything offensive about them. The media agency for Metropolitan Transportation Authority (NYC) however, has issues with the imagery, and even the word "period." (MTA itself was not involved in the decision.)

From mic.com:
According to Veronica del Rosario, Thinx's director of marketing, the representative was concerned that children would see the word "period" in the ad and ask their parents what it meant. When Thinx later submitted the ad with the word "period" in the copy, the agency told them they could not run the copy "as is." 
"I stated [to an Outfront rep] that it was extremely disheartening that [certain other ads] could fly, but something for women that speaks directly to women isn't OK by them," del Rosario told Mic. "He replied, 'This is not a women's issue. Don't try to make it a women's rights thing.'"
Apparently, they were also concerned with the amount of skin showing in the Thinx ads, as well as the  cheeky use of a grapefruit and the contents of an egg.

MTA has run some rather obnoxious breast augmentation ads before, but apparently children are going to be more traumatized by being reminded of the very organs that made them.