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Is sexism rife in the marketing world?

19/09/2013

Some companies have made a huge success of advertising campaigns that are a little near the knuckle.

Plenty of marketers have fastened on to the old adage that "sex sells" and have produced, shall we say, trashy content that many people would find indecent and offensive.

Brands that want to evoke a "laddish" image - bookmakers and lager manufacturers specifically - are constantly facing criticism for their degrading campaigns, but are these the only culprits?

There are numerous examples of businesses inadvertently coining slogans and adverts that have been labelled as sexist.

The Mic Mac Mall in Canada was recently forced to apologise after it offended plenty of people with its back to school ad campaign.

It featured a drawing of a girl holding a dress and smartphone and used the phrases "Mixing patterns ¬- now that's a science!" and "Social Studies? Does posting my new boots on Facebook count?".

Unsurprisingly, more than a few members of the public were outraged by the suggestion - whether it was intended or not - that young women are more concerned about fashion and gossiping on social networking sites than their education.

Earlier this month, Toys R Us announced it will stop advertising its products in a gender specific way.

It is working alongside campaign group Let Toys Be Toys to ensure future marketing campaigns are a little more neutral and so, one assumes, we will no longer see images of girls playing with the latest dolls or boys using games consoles.

Campaigner Megan Perryman said: "Even in 2013, boys and girls are still growing up being told that certain toys are for them, while others are not. This is not only confusing but extremely limiting as it strongly shapes their ideas about who they are."

It just goes to show how delicate the situation has become for marketers.

Consumers now have access to a plethora of social media sites, where they can leave as many bad and potentially damaging reviews as they like. So, it has arguably never been more important for marketers to consider who they might be offending when devising their next promotional campaign.

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