Sexism in advertising

Heineken Robot

An article on AdAge this morning slams a new Heineken ad that features a sexy blond robot who serves beer from her (its?) abdomen. I watched the ad, and thought it was bizarre, mildly entertaining, slightly crude but memorable. From the title of the article, I expected a more obvious sexist joke, perhaps with the robot in a french maid’s outfit with a toilet scrubber in one hand and a beer on a tray in the other, and titles labeling the robot as the “perfect woman.”

We have come a long way from the days when tv ads featured perfectly coiffed women with 12-inch waists in heels and pearls selling soap and discussing ways of removing “ring around the collar” from their hard-working husbands’ shirts. I think these days we have swung pretty hard the other direction, with the typical family ad featuring the husband/father as a bumbling idiot who wouldn’t be able to tie his shoes without his patient and amused wife’s steady hand to untangle his fingers. So who’s being sexist to whom?

Once again, creativity in advertising has hit the PC barrier. To sell your brand, you want to appeal to your target audience without enraging the other folks. But there are so many groups of “other folks” out there who just want to be offended by anything that this can sometimes be a very tricky road to navigate. So here we have an example of an ad meant to appeal to young men of beer-swilling age, who appreciate technology, sexy girls and easy beer. This ad hits that right on the noggin. At the same time it makes the statement that it would be really great to have a sexy female robot serve you beer from her ice-cold chest cavity and then do a hot little dance for you with her clone bot girlfriends.

Ok, so what? They’re selling beer. Since when is that a politically correct product?

Let ads be ads. All those creatives out there will have a lot less headaches that way.