Discussion # 2 – Sexist, Sensitive, Insensitive, Racist, Ethical?

Outrageous! Here’s the story if you want more. Sexist Ad Banned https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51032631

One of Bly’s “11 Tips” is avoiding sexist language (even then.) Today, with our rapid-fire communications, social media, “one-minute news cycles”, instant protests and cancel culture, that is even more important. As we have seen, a misstep can break careers or companies (or not) in the “Me Too” era. The changing role of ethics in communication is volatile on the web, in business communications and in marketing. People are still “feeling out” the new rules of privacy, security, and intellectual property. Just ask Mark Z!

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In the old days, the “holy trinity” used to get attention in advertising was “pretty girls, puppies, and babies.” Nowadays you can’t really say that (the first part) but think about it – how many ads do you see that still feature attractive people… and puppies, and babies. But there has been a lot of change recently in the casting of those attractive actors, in the diversity of families shown, and in the range of scenarios presented. But not enough. Some companies are still encountering backlash, whether intentional or unintentional. The Protein World beach body poster (note the use of “you” and the question headline!) seems to pop up on every list of controversial messaging. (It’s in two of these articles.)

Here’s an article about how both VW and Kraft had ads banned in the UK for being sexist and using gender stereotypes:

Ads Banned for Gender Stereotypes


And one more about controversial ads:

Seven of the Most Controversial Ads of Our Time


For our discussion:

Read the articles/posts above.

Tell us what got your attention, and how you would consider the ethics, body-shaming, diversity, sexist roles and gender-stereotyping issues if, say, you had to write the next campaign for Protein World?! It seems it’s not possible to advertise anything without offending someone today. What’s the tipping point when offending a few turns into offending too many? Is it fair to say any publicity is good publicity in the current environment? Some companies seem to pay for their missteps – others survive the publicity and move on unscathed – why?

Remember to use an intriguing post title, not just Discussion #2.

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