Okay, the electronics industry in general isn’t known for its commitment to progressive views on gender. As Samsung has become a global brand, though, people are noticing the subtle and not-at-all subtle sexism of their advertising.
These ads don’t all filter out to prime-time TV ads, but they can tell us a lot about the companies’ corporate culture and the image they want to present as global brands. In an analysis of this issue, Youkyung Lee of the Associated Press notes that women used for decoration are common in South Korea, and are actually expected.
When the company has tried to launch new products without the babes, it kind of backfired. Journalists in Korea are so used to launches with babes that any product launch with no sexy chicks gets no attention. “In the past, it seemed that a lot of reporters were focusing on something else, not our TVs,” Samsung’s head of TV told the AP.
The culture of pretty models at product launches and in product photos doesn’t really explain why Samsung keeps portraying women as unable to operate their products, though. It is possible to send text messages while wearing a bikini top. An infamous New York City launch event for the Galaxy smartphone featured giggling ladies who needed a man’s help to operate the device.
In an almost unbearably boring long-form spot for its solid-state hard drives, three terrible actors are “interviewed” about how they use their computers and handed an SSD to try out. The woman is confused as to what’s in the box, and freely admits that she has absolutely no idea how one would install such a thing. She does, however, know how to use a screwdriver. It could have been worse.
The men in the ad are at least familiar with the concept of a hard drive, have an idea how to install one, and say that they use their computers to play games and conduct business. The woman uses hers to look at pictures, go online, and help her kids with homework. She says that her notebook computer overheats while she does “chores,” and is literally filmed sitting in her kitchen.
Of course, Samsung’s ads aren’t all insulting to women. Last year, we shared a commercial for Samsung’s TV evolution kits where a woman, given the opportunity to “upgrade” her oafish male partner, turns him into a housework robot. That was more creepy than sexist, but still a pretty stereotypical view of couples.
OLD HABITS AT SAMSUNG, LG EMBARRASS THEM ABROAD [Associated Press]