Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Scottish anti-independence ad goes "bad" viral #PatronisingBTlady

You might wonder what they were thinking.

The "no" movement in the Scottish independence referendum, Better Together, recently released this video ad featuring a woman soliloquizing at home after sending off her husband and kids:

Almost immediately, a backlash began. Under the hashtag #PatronisingBTlady, an explosion of memes started circulating to criticize the gendered clich├ęs around a stay-at-home housewife who finds politics confusing:

The viral activity has since spilled over into mainstream media in the UK. However, the people behind the campaign defend it:
Despite the fact the film has created a vociferous internet response punctuated by a series of caustic retaliatory memes, campaign director Blair McDougall has defended the piece’s cinematic integrity. McDougall suggests the piece is flavored with social realism. 
The ad uses words“taken verbatim from conversations on doorstops with undecided women voters,”and from the“opinion of women in dozens of focus groups around the country,”he claimed. While the ad has heightened the campaign’s profile considerably, the precise nature of publicity it has garnered may not be warmly welcomed.
Certainly, there are individual women in Scotland who resemble the stereotype. But does that mean it's something that should be reinforced in a national advertising campaign?

Scottish social anthropologist (and "Yes" man) weighed in with a meme of his own:

But the real question is whether this ad will sway any voters. And moreover, which way will it sway them?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is this any way to change the perception of women in tech?

An specialized underwear company called "Dear Kate" had a cheeky idea to promote its wares while also celebrating diverse women who are crashing the technology industry "boys' club": get a bunch of female CEOs of tech companies to pose in their skivvies for the online catalogue.

Dear Kate is not an ordinary lingerie company. Its products were originally designed as a less-Dependsish for women suffering from incontinence, and has since branched out into promoting leakproof "period panties."

The Drum reports that the Ada Collection is named after Ada Lovelace, the woman who created the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. And despite criticism, the women participating felt they were doing the right thing:

Adda Birnir, founder of SkillCrush [seen below] admitted to Time that she did have doubts: “I run a company and you’re trying to have gravitas when you’re a CEO. I was a little bit like, ‘Is it a bad idea to participate in an underwear modelling shoot?'” 
“But it’s a feminist company…and I think it’s so important to support companies that are doing work like that. That overshadowed any of my concerns.”

These women are clearly not just models, but willing participants in whatever this is trying to say.

Adrants quotes Dear Kate CEO, Julie Sygiel: "I think a lot of traditional lingerie photo shoots depict women as simply standing there looking sexy. They're not always in a position of power and control. In our photo shoots it's important to portray women who are active and ambitious. They're not just standing around waiting for things to happen."

However the blog's author, Steve Hall, counters:
Hey, I'm all for women wearing underwear and lingerie as often as possible but when so many are doing so much to battle stigmas and stereotypes relating to the perception of women in the workplace -- and the world at large, this just smacks the face of logic.
I'm not so sure, though. While this could have come off like the European Union's appalling "Science: It's a Girl Thing" video, it just doesn't feel the same. The photos are contrived, sure, and even a little silly. But SOMEONE has to make and model underwear for women. Why not use the opportunity to also demonstrate and inspire female leadership in business and technology?

All images via Dear Kate

It's not really up to me to decide if this is good or bad for women overall, because I'm not a woman. In my opinion, this campaign doesn't feel degrading or objectifying. But I urge women readers to weigh in.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Jack in the Box campaign mocks little people

I really long for the day when people with dwarfism are not a visual punchline in popular media.

Today is not that day:

Thanks to @copymatt for the tip.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dumb e-cig ad is a throwback to a more racist era

This ad, from Belfast, is kind of shocking in its cluelessness. Taboo love between a mature white woman and a young black man! The scandal!

Fortunately, according to campaign, the Northern Irish didn't like it much either. The Advertising Standards Authority received several complaints, and ruled that "consumers viewing the ad would believe it was presenting a relationship between an older and younger individual, particularly an older woman and a younger man, and a couple of different races, as something that was unusual or socially unacceptable."

The ad has been ordered removed, which is always a touchy subject. I far prefer when brands willingly remove ads because it's in their best interests not to piss off customers by pretending it's still the 1950s.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Vancouver Transit Police apologize for victim-blaming ad

Another day, another ad campaign accused of blaming sexual assault victims. But this one has a positive lesson in it.

According to CBC, Vancouver Transit Police have agreed to remove this ad from Skytrain, following public complaints.

Transit Police spokesperson Anne Drennan stated that the victim-blaming was entirely unintentional, but added, "we see where they are coming from."

I work on campaigns like this, too, so I can see how this happened. The Copywriter was trying to use a clever turn of phrase, but didn't consider the unintended triggering of the word "shame" in the context. Neither did the client.

To their credit, however, Vancouver Transit Police have responded in a way that should be a teachable moment to other authorities creating campaigns that address the issue of sexual assault, either directly or indirectly.

First, they apologized with an acknowledgement that the wording could cause unintended harm. Then, they committed to removing the ads and replacing them with "new posters with wording approved by an advisory council that includes representatives from women's support groups."

Understand, apologize, fix the problem and show how you'll avoid it in the future. Is that so hard?