Posted by Mark Grainger 19 Aug 2015

Bic, Bush and sexism in adverts

We’re currently caught in a more ferocious battle for female equality than we’ve seen for a long time, with feminists of both genders fighting exasperation to become increasingly vocal about the very real divide about how women and men are treated and spoken to by corporations.

Last week there was a small uproar (amongst my twitter followers at least) about this wine advert from Premier Estates.

wine advert bush

It’s worth pointing out that Premier Estates wine are currently trying to promote/flog shiraz from Australia, hence the ‘cheeky’ wordplay and imagery. Still, the implication is muddled to say the least. Sex sells, as the old saying goes, but is anybody really going to buy wine based on the idea that it has a palette akin to pubic hair? I doubt it. This one seems to be a bit of a creative joke that somehow got approved but still, it’s hard not to see it as alienating and sexist, designed solely to create engagement, especially as there is no male equivalent to suggest mere childishness.

Meanwhile, cheap and cheerful pen and razor specialists Bic have no real excuses for their latest advert. Pushed on social media to, apparently, celebrate South Africa’s national women’s day by telling them to dress like as young and nubile as possible but think like their manlier, presumably better, colleagues.

bic women advert sexist

It’s patronising in the extreme, and tone deaf to the point of being genuinely laughable. In fact, it’s a short step away from being a total anachronism, a throwback to the type of advertising we saw in the middle of the last century where men were industrious and women were simple, housebound creatures.

Bic apologised whilst Premier Estates puled the ‘tongue in cheek’ banter card, but the fact that Bic’s advert gained approval at all is arguably even more of a mystery than the bush strapline. Both however can be seen as symptomatic of a culture and viewpoint that just wont seem to shift, an idea that women are somehow fair game and to say otherwise is to be a whinge.

Of course it’s not just advertising ad marketing that’s guilty of perpetuating this approach, but it definitely is something that we should be more aware of as an industry. There seem to be two questions we need to ask; is the content derogatory to women, and are we doing it just to generate engagement. If the answer is yes to either then it might be time to reassess priorities.