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Earlier this week Belvedere proved that everything a Brand says in social media is an ad in the eyes of a consumer, and in a related story everything founders of a new hot startup says represents their brand in social media. The Guardian's tech editor Charles Arthur storified the exchange that still has discussions and threads going - "OH HAI SEXISM". Cliff notes: Shanley Kane, a lady in tech was using her personal twitter account to talk to the founders of Geeklist, on their personal twitter accounts, about a little video she found "fucking gross", where Geeklists logo was prominently displayed.
The video is a "behind the scenes" photo-shoot study set to terrible dubstep, where a model and a guy who is a bit of a comedian are photographed in clothes made by "Design Like Whoa". The designer of the clothes was there witnessing as the Geeklist commissioned video was shot, but she didn't create the video, just the clothes. At the end of the video the comedian guy in it channels David Bailey and pretends to photograph the model to ever more high-pitched squeals of "that's it! Yes!" until he suddenly comments on needing new pants. Yes indeed, there's an "I came in my pants" joke at the end, and lots of people would label that "fucking gross" or at least "not very funny". And in this context, it becomes sexist. See, Geeklist isn't Victoria's Secret or some sort of "make men jizz" pheromone perfume, it's a Social/Pro networking site for programmers and other IT-nerds. The male at this shoot is wearing T-shirt and cargo-shorts, typical geek-wear laid back and fit for a (geeky) day of work, whilst the woman is wearing a T-shirt and a G-string. She's a few items short to be able to go to work. Unless of course her job is to be the pretty eye-candy that only hangs around high-tech startups to allow the frustrated programming geeks to unload in their pants on occasion.
Oh yeah, it's insulting to both genders working in tech. Geekhumor is a lot funnier than that.
And sure, we can argue that she's in the panties because she's showing off the logofied products for sale, no other reason, it's harmless you see. Me, I'd prefer underwear with jokes like "achievement unlocked". I'm not about to wear your logo on my ass and I've never quite understood why people make such logofied items. Do they seriously expect that a conversation will happen between two individuals upon the sight of this strategically based logo "Oh baby you're so hot.. heeeey, I'm on geeklist too, what's your username?". Is the best place for your logo to be on my panties? So yeah, even going there - that is, making panties with logos on them - is a douche move to begin with. Because somewhere someone thought "nobody will miss this logo if we put it on her ass" and that is pretty telling regarding their train of thoughts. Hey. Eyes up here mate. Or you know, it's just tacky.
But the most fascinating thing is what happened next. The curt twitter exchange got heated beyond belief, with Geeklist pulling out the old "does your employer know you're tweeting this?" crap. The conversation spawned threads like this fourhundred and fifty comment long one on Metafilter which seems to never die, and countless posts have been made on how they destroyed their own brand with just a few tweets. The debate about women in tech is now thoroughly infected. Next person who suggests a booth babe at a tech-event gets replaced by a very small perl-script. The main points made by those who disagreed with Shanley Kane's "hey guyzzzz..?" on twitter was that "She was aggressive, yo".
But wait, it gets better...
Geeklist have apologized: their public apology lays the blame of the creation of this video in the T-shirts designers lap, and she's stated that the video was commissioned by Geeklist lobbying the responsibility right back like a tennis-pro. Geeklist might be really sorry, but they keep stepping in something that smells.
And somehow they've rubbed this shit off on other brands. @Adainitiative got involved, they are "A non-profit initiative to increase the participation of women in open technology and culture". Sometime during the big storm Aurora at ADA has an idea to have Geeklist apologize in their underwear - remember kids, two wrongs don't make a right but two Wrights can make an airplane. People get wind of this and soon Valerie Aurora at Ada Initiative consulting apologizes on their official web page. It's catching on like the flu.
What we've learned here is that everything posted in social media under your brands name is an ad. And everything you post under your name represents the company you founded as well. Quick! Gag all CEO's and take my @dabitch twitter away from me before I get in trouble.
Also remind me to use the "I have a family" shield next time someone accuses me of promoting my brand in a sexist fashion or anything else for that matter. -"Don't park there, it's the handicap spot yo" -"HOW DARE YOU I HAVE A FAMILY!" See, it totally works.
It's not all that surprising that a tech startup runs with a pretty girl in panties when one of the most successful tech related companies in the US have been doing this for years. There's a massive difference though, Godaddy are appealing to idiots they can suck in and then hang on to by designing a page that's impossible to escape. Geeklist is appealing to brainy people to share their brainy skillsets with each other.