Sony commercial hits record number of female stereotypes

What exactly is Sony trying to say in this ad for the Bravia TV ?   It’s a farce of an ad for a movie, and it features scenes of a man lawn mowing and power drilling, and scenes of a woman sketching fashions and applying lipstick.   The voiceover goes like this:

NARRATOR: A man with a passion for performance… a woman captivated by beauty…

MAN: No, I’m listening – I’m just chewing gum.

NARRATOR: Their X and Y chromosomes kept them apart.   But one thing…

WOMAN: I love that color.

NARRATOR: …would bring them together: an awesome HD picture that looks really stylish on the wall. Bravia: the world’s first television for men and women.

Really?   Which chromosome was I using when I bought my HD TV so I could watch my action videos in such high quality it shows up the flaws?   I’d like to take this as kitschy and ironic, but it’s not: in the end, it is clearly saying that men want really super HD TV’s, and women just want it to look nice in the room.   Men seek function; women seek style. Because men are substantive, and women are superficial.

Regardless of whether you find the sexist suggestions in the commercial offensive or not, Marketing to Women Online makes a good case for how Sony has utterly failed to grasp what women want, yet purports to be selling to them.   It smacks of an afterthought: “Oh, and hey, can you make us a commercial that emphasizes why women would like this TV?   We really only made it for men, but you can just make something up.”   And be sure to check out the online ad, which takes the riff even further.   When M2WO first reviewed it, the ad made you choose whether you were a woman or a man to see the ending.   Now it asks you a question, but your choice of answer still leads you clearly to the blue man’s side or the pink woman’s side.   The two movies men get are about football coaches and video game heroes.   The movies women get are “Shoesical” – a musical about shoes, and a lucky gal who gets to become a shoe model, or a movie about a female heart specialist (oh, isn’t it cute?).

Hitting on several topics we’ve been discussing lately, M2WO sums it up very well:

Let me warn you – it is dangerous to separate out men and women unless there are truly different products for each gender.   (think clothing)    When you do that, you are stating “this is what we think of each of the sexes and what they want”.    You risk stereotyping at best, and offending at worst.

Why not have an assortment of endings and let people self select which one they would prefer?    Women are video game enthusiasts – perhaps they’d like the video game action hero ending.    Men are doctors or look up to them – perhaps they’d like the Heart Specialist ending?


  1. sbg says

    Every time I see that commercial I have this urge to commit a violent act. The girl-and-boy finally meet story is dreadful on its own, but couple it with the stereotypes (of both men and women, I think) and it just gets worse.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    I don’t even get what they’re trying to sell. They seem to be suggesting that men who want big screens are hampered by wives who think they’re too ugly to have in the living room. But there are plenty of unobtrusive big screens out there already.

    And I’ve never heard anyone complain that big screens don’t fit the decor. I’ve heard “too expensive” and “literally won’t fit in the room”, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest prettiness is the only thing keeping a household from buying a big screen.

    This is one of the stupidest ad campaigns I’ve ever seen, in addition to being sexist. Must’ve been written by a fourteen year old for a high school marketing class.

  3. sbg says

    I know quite a few guys who DO care what their electronics look like (and various other things). I also know quite a few women who DO care how their electronics perform. Separating the “pretty” from the “functionality” in this case is stupid.

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    And they could have simply used both – it works great, and it looks great. No gender implications, just a simple statement of the traits.

    They overcomplicated it by introducing this poor attempt at gender humor… or whatever it was.

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