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Offensive Reading Material?


We've all seen ads that reinforce gender stereotypes. In fact, some of us have had to work on them (next time you talk to Walter, ask him about the Creative Director who made him include a scantily clad model in a car ad for no good reason). No matter how much we all enjoyed seven seasons of Mad Men, I don't think any of us really want to go back to the days of using gratuitously sexy women to sell everything from cigarettes to liquor to automobiles. Or depicting subservient housewives catering to the kings of their castles.

Then again, sometimes a sexist ad is an honest mistake.

Just ask the marketing team at Australia's Sofitel Brisbane. Or, ask their ad agency.

The hotel is currently running an ad that probably seemed harmless enough. A handsome couple is relaxing with breakfast is bed. They're wearing matching Sofitel bathrobes, and contrary to many similar set-ups, the gentleman is actually showing a bit more skin than the lady. The problem comes in when you take a look at what each person is reading. He has a copy of Financial Review. She's browsing through a coffee table book entitiled, Chanel.


Faster than you can say "equal reading rights for women," social media lit up. As it is wont to do these days for offenses large, small and minuscule.

One person came right out with the issue at hand and tweeted, "No more diminishing please, in any form."

Others displayed more of a sense of humor ...

One reader tweeted, "Ah yes, those hotel mornings when you wake up, put your hair in a nice chignon and read a coffee table book about Chanel."

Another tweeted, "Your breakfast looks delicious … just wanted to let you know I'm a woman and I also read the Financial Review every day."

And still another, "Of course, the fruit platter is on her side, she'd be loath to touch the baked goods." 

The Sofitel Brisbane, who had clearly fallen into this quagmire by accident, responded quickly and completely:

"Hi, we appreciate you voicing your concerns. There was no intention of portraying a stereotype, but we recognise it & apologise for any offence it has caused. The creative has been pulled from any future activity. Feel free to send us a DM if you'd like to discuss further."

Nicely done. In fact, we give them extra props for offering to continue the conversation. Brands that listen and respond promptly, apologizing if and when necessary, are to be commended. 

The Sofitel may actually gain customer loyalty for handling the issue so well.

(For the record, the Queen B would rather read the Chanel coffee table book any day. But that's just personal preference.)

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