Ad ban of the week: gender stereotypes in shower gels for kids banned in Sweden
I feel for my old co-workers at Oriflame for being slapped with this ad-bannage. First off, Oriflame is a bit like Avon in that there are troops of independent salespeople, and they are all armed with the all powerful catalogue. This catalogue is distributed to 38 different countries and 3.5 million consultants.
There's a silly amount of meetings discussing every detail of a layout where top execs from several different countries will offer their invaluable input such as "we need more glamour, can you print glitter?" and "She needs to smile more" followed by "No, smiles don't sell in my country" followed by "In my country she needs to smile like Mona Lisa" and so on.
Provided you haven't turned skitzo during one of these many meetings you will soon enough (read: six months) have a layout that has turned into a mishmash of details and additions much like that "if microsoft designed Apple packaging" video. Despite all that, you manage to produce something... And then the Swedish Reklamombudsman bans it because the girls looks like a ballerina-girl and the boy looks like a tool-loving boy.. It's enough to drive an art director to drinking the kid-bodywash advertised.
Translation of the Reklamombudsmans call:
The Advertising Ombudsman's opinion committee finds that the advertisement is sexist. It therefore contravenes Article 4 of the International Chamber of Commerce rules for advertising and marketing communications (ICC Rules). Opinion Board also finds that advertising is designed without the special duty of care to be taken in marketing directed at, or showing children or adolescents. The advertisement therefore contravenes Article 18 of the ICC rules.
Look, I really don't like sexist ads, I think that sexist ads are bad for everyone, and I've nodded approvingly at the fourth graders who made the pottery barn change as well as twelve year olds who taught Toys-R-Us about modern children. I've complained that girls just wanna have fun, not pink, but in this case with Oriflame it seems they could never win. And, more importantly, there's a different between sexist and gender normative, which the Reklamombudsman doesn't seem to notice. Lets see what article 4 of the ICC that the reklamombudsman calls upon states, shall we?
Advertisements should not condone any form of discrimination, including that based upon race, national origin, religion, sex or age, nor should they in any way undermine human dignity.
Advertisements should not without justifiable reason play on fear.
Advertisements should not appear to condone or incite violence, nor to encourage unlawful or reprehensible behaviour.
Advertisements should not play on superstition.
Oh I get it. The whole ballerina thing is a superstition, right? Like the Cottingley Fairies. Wee ballerinas don't really exist.
Joking a side, make a catalogue that works in thirty eight different countries and pray that it'll work everywhere. Yeah. Good luck with that.