Target: Matthew Juaire, Marketing and Sales Director for Voco
Goal: Express extreme disappointment in Voco for its sexist ad campaign.
“Sex sells” is one of the most accepted axioms of advertising. And yet when it comes to ad campaigns there is a thin line between sexiness and sexism. Voco, a voice control company, has clearly crossed that line with its most recent ad campaign. Sign the petition and tell Voco’s Marketing and Sales Director that the extreme objectification of women is not an acceptable means by which to sell products.
The ad campaign in question, criticized in detail by journalist Jolie O’Dell, features isolated images of women’s body parts–legs in high heels, a red-lipped open mouth–combined with sexual innuendo so explicit that it practically ceases to be innuendo at all: “Play with my V-Spot,” urges the ad featuring the legs, while one featuring the open mouth asserts that “oral is better.”
While the company has defended the campaign as harmless and “playful,” there are several troublesome points that intersect here. The first is the extreme objectification of the woman in the ads–in fact, there is no woman in the ads, since only her legs and mouth make appearances. This is not a depiction of a woman who happens to be sexy; it is a depiction of a woman who is nothing but sex. It is her only purpose for existing in this advertising campaign and it eclipses her every other personal attribute. The innuendo-laden slogans that accompany the images complete the image of women as existing simply to satisfy the sexual fantasies of others.
The second problem with this ad campaign is that it reinforces the image of the tech industry as one that is dismissive and hostile toward women. The ads’ clear target is heterosexual men, perpetuating the idea that tech-related things are “manly.” Thus the campaign kills two sexist birds with one stone, excluding female consumers from the tech market while relegating them to nothing more than personifications of sex.
This advertising campaign is offensive, but moreover, it is incredibly degrading and harmful to women, especially those involved with the tech industry. Sign the petition demanding that Voco pull its raunchy ads and issue an apology to its customers.
Dear Mr. Juaire,
“Sex sells” is a long-established truth in advertising. However, there is a thin line between sexiness and outright sexism, and Voco’s “Play with My V-Spot” campaign is clearly over the line. Voco should pull these degrading and offensive ads immediately and issue an apology for having released them in the first place.
The ads are far from the “playful” spots Voco claims them to be. They strip away the identity of the woman in the photographs, reducing her to nothing but a personification of sex. Her legs and lips no longer constitute parts of her own body but are instead portrayed as the sexual property of the (presumably male) viewer. The sexually explicit puns accompanying the images only serve to underline the woman’s status as a sex object rather than a person. What is especially disappointing about this campaign is that it comes out of an industry that already has a reputation for being hostile toward and dismissive of women. The campaign reinforces this negative image in two ways: it implicitly excludes women from its consumer base, choosing instead to target heterosexual men and exclude all other demographics, and it perpetuates the idea of women as sex objects rather than as human beings with brains.
It is clear what must be done. Voco must remove these degrading ads immediately and apologize to those affected.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: cobalt123 via Flickr