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?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

8-year-old NHS PSA causes fresh outrage over victim blaming

Via Daily Mail

Patrick, a reader, made me aware of the latest example of an anti-binge-drinking ad that ends up promoting the culture of blaming victims of rape.

In this case, it's the UK government's National Health Service that is causing outrage.

The Drum reports that the poster actually dates back to 2006,  part of the "Know Your Limits" campaign, but it is still available as part of an online toolkit and posted in some health facilities.

A petition, launched recently, states:
Two honourable intentions -- to stop people drinking, and to stop rape happening - are being completely deformed. Of course we don't want people to drink so much they make themselves ill, but threatening them with rape by implication is not the way to do it. Of course we don't want anyone to endure sexual assault and rape, but making them feel like it's their fault if they do, is so far out of order. 
It is not consistent with the NHS' own guidelines on 'Help after rape and sexual assault' in which they say 'If you have been sexually assaulted, remember that it wasn’t your fault. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, where you were or whether you had been drinking. A sexual assault is always the fault of the perpetrator.' This is a much more helpful approach, and we ask the NHS and the Home Office to destroy this poster in all formats. 
It currently has over 62,000 signatures.

There have been a number of prominent anti-alcohol campaigns in recent years that have hit these same triggers, including PSAs by MADD, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, CabWise and West Mercia Police.

The fact that the NHS campaign is an older one shows how far we've come in understanding the cultural issues around rape in just a few years, but it is also a reminder to keep your PSA libraries up-to-date.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Van rental company makes sexist jokes part of its marketing plan

An Australian company that calls itself "Wicked Campers" has pissed off thousands of people with its on-vehicle slogans, prompting a massive online petition and complaints to regulators.

The campaign was led by Paula Orbea, who reacted after her 11-year-old daughter told her about the "little slut" slogan she had seen on a Wicked Campers van.

It is inconceivable that Wicked Campers choose to not only write the misogynistic 'joke' but also then publicise it through their moving, billboard vans.  
Disgustingly they have also promoted that, 'Fat girls are harder to kidnap.' 
Shame on them. 
Adult females are also degraded into sexual objectification and disrespect - with slogans on show for people of all ages to indiscriminately see and absorb:  
'A wife: An attachement you screw on the bed to get the housework done.''A blowjob is a great last minute gift!''I wouldn't trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn't die!' 
Racism has also played a part with slogans such as:'Save the whales, harpoon a Jap.'
The company, which markets mostly to young backpackers, has gotten in trouble with Australia's Advertising Standards Board before. Many, many times. But according to Marketing Mag, they have failed to respond to any rulings, whether for or against, since mid-2010.

This time, however, the company seems to have rolled over, and Ms. Orbea declared victory:
Wicked Campers have apologised, and committed to removing all misogynistic slogans from their vans within six months. Nothing has shifted them in the past. Complaints. Fines. But after initially responding to the petition saying they "didn't care about the uproar" – after your massive support for my petition, they've apologised and will re-spray the offensive, sexist vans.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Now you can protest with #Femen without taking your shirt off

It's been a while since I've written about Femen, the Ukrainian-born topless protest group that has since gone global. But this tee, just Tweeted, and on sale at their web site, seemed timely.

Considering that the group considers their bare breasts "weapons" in the war against misogyny, creating a clothed toplessness raises some questions: Is this self-aware parody? Commoditization of their tactics for fundraising? Or just a more accessible form of solidarity for shy women (and flat-chested men)?

There's another version of the shirt that reads, "Every Woman is a Riot" in reference to Pussy Riot - the allied Russian punk protest band that won the world's support when some members were jailed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DDB Amsterdam thinks 1:11 of slow-motion bouncing boobs will sell tech to runners

That's right — over a minute of blurry (?), slow-mo, mammary movement because someone thought up a bad pun.

According to the TomTom YouTube Page, which claims this ad was "banned," the subject (or rather, "object") is American model Alexandria Morgan. Ads of The World lists an all-male creative team with apparently zero interest in selling any TomTom Runner Cardio watches to women athletes.