Mic Mac Mall in Halifax, N.S. was recently forced to take down an ad campaign for back-to-school shopping. While no one complained about the idea of shopping or of school beginning in the fall, many people were upset about the sexist overtones (and undertones, and, really, just tones) of the ads.
“Mixing patterns — now that’s a science!” One pink-backgrounded ad declares. Another one has a girl saying, “My favourite class? Shop!” And a third features a girl asking if “posting my new boots on Facebook” counts as “social studies.” Because, as we all know from ad campaigns since time immemorial, women hate science but man, oh man, do they love shoppin’ and talkin’!
After the mall presumably vetted and approved the advertising concept, and no one along the way thought it might cause any upset, and it was released to the public, some people got upset. The mall was, evidently, completely taken aback. They took down the ads and promised to pay $5,000 to “a local organization that focuses on empowering girls.”
In 2013, it’s a little surprising that businesses still think ads of this nature are acceptable. It’s not surprising because sexism is over (lol) or because the business community is particularly enlightened (rofl), but the sheer number of similar fiascos in recent years should have clued in any moderately savvy capitalists to the fact that this kind of in-your-face sexism no longer flies.
Please, advertisers, stick to the subtle stuff when you’re peppering us with sexism. It’s much more palatable.