A message to companies relying on outdated gender roles, misogynist objectification and patriarchal stereotyping- do better!
Here are some problematic ads from over the decades that go from slightly questionable to downright misogynistic:
A car ad had a cartoon showing three bound and gagged women in the rear of a hatchback to promote Ford’s Indian hatchback. Intended to illustrate the small car’s rear storage space, the ad used the tagline: Leave your worries behind with Figo’s extra-large boot.
The idea behind this sewing machine ad is a sexist notion that women or rather wives must know "domestic duties" like sewing to be ideal "housewives". This misogynist ad sets a bar for women to be ‘ideal’, putting pressure on the woman to live up to a patriarchal standard of the perfect housewife.
‘Don’t hold back’, usually an empowering message, is used as a catchy phrase for a man to assert his power over a woman. This ad seems to glorify workplace sexual assault. Many ads, like this, objectify women by using them as ‘props’ with their presence being reduced and limited to the background to provide a sexual appeal.
Nando's had been known for objectifying the female body by drawing parallels to the food products they offer. Playing into the trope of "sex sells". While this ad was to promote their "double breasted burger" in the UK, another such example of their ad copy was: "We don't mind if you touch our buns, or breasts, or even our thighs. Whatever you're into, enjoying any Nando's meal with your hands is always recommended."
This Pepe Jeans ad imposes gender stereotypes and biases by depicting a young girl in feminine clothes post-makeover. Implying that a child enjoying sports in clothes she is comfortable in is inappropriate and undesirable for a girl.
This ad for a bank's savings accounts implies that the only reason to open an account and save money for a girl child would be in preparation for her marriage. Her education is secondary, but her future is one that ends with a wedding.
This ad for a weight loss programme is problematic on many levels. One, it is equating beauty and health to weight and fat. Two, the only reason for a woman to practise self-care is to please a man.
This ad for a home economics course states that it is solely the bride's duty to educate and prepare herself to maintain the household. Inadvertently perpetuating the idea that a woman's place is at home and in the kitchen, responsible for all visible and invisible household labour.
Sexualising and objectifying the female body is not new in advertising. This ad implies that the only hard work a woman could possibly do is cook and with the bathroom fittings she can transform from the tired (read unattractive) woman on the right, to the refreshed (read young and sexy) woman in the centre.
Instead of picking up the slack and contributing to the household work, this ad just perpetuates the problematic notion that a woman's place is in the home and kitchen. And if your partner is asking you to help out more, it's not your responsibility to step up, but instead give the gift of another woman to do the work any responsible adult should be capable of doing.
In attempting to run a special women's day promotion, this online marketplace ended up perpetuating gender roles by identifying and celebrating women by implying that the best gift for a woman would be kitchen appliances. Once again impressing the idea that women belong in the kitchen and thus the kitchen is their whole world.
Keeping with the trend of exploiting the problematic trope of "a woman's place is in the kitchen", this ad suggests that a woman's unpaid household labour is not enough and by gifting her this pressure cooking she can direct her already overworked mind and body to "other, more useful work".
Matrimonial ads have a long and problematic history of being sexist and just downright derogatory towards women. This one in particular seems to be suggesting that beauty is dependent on weight and her body size makes her undesirable, a poor match. Thus, promoting a weight loss programme for a hopeful bride to snatch up a good match.