Will Sexist Marketing Campaigns Please Go Away? #NowWhat

Sexist marketing campaigns are so 50 years ago.

ColumnAll news is good news… It’s that mentality that allows big, mega brands to write and publish national campaigns that are “edgy”—which is most often just code for sexist marketing campaigns, racist marketing campaigns… you get the idea.

The most recent brand that created a low-brow, offensive ad campaign is Sprite Ireland. Last week, Jezebel called the soda brand out for its new slew of creepy, sexist ad copy.

The campaign, #BrutallyRefreshing, is filled with “hilarious” little phrases that come off more slut-shame-y than funny. Here are just a few, dumb things Sprite marketers have come up with:

“A 2 At 10 Is A 10 At 2.”

“She’s Seen More Ceilings Than Michelangelo.”

“You’re Not Popular, You’re Easy.”

One would think that a room full of 18-year-old, soon-to-be frat boys came up with these ideas. But no, it was a well-paid group of professionals.

Now, we’re not prudes. In fact, we enjoy edgy ads that make people think or feel uncomfortable emotions. But we draw the line—a big, bold, red line—when ads start poking fun at people… especially women who choose to embrace their sexuality.

Because all of Sprite’s “brutally refreshing” catchphrases are some seriously sexist things dudes say to each other after they’ve tied on a few too many. And take note—we aren’t fans of any type of sexist remarks. So, if Sprite decides to release a new collection of scandalous phrases that say things like, “You know what they say about men with big trucks… They’re compensating for something,” we’d be equally angry.

And this leads us to our point. Technically, we’re falling right into Sprite’s trap by even commenting on ads like these. But we’re kind of stuck here. If we let brands go unchecked, they continue to do boneheaded things. After all, the fact that campaigns like these get greenlit explains why network television company executives don’t blink at publicly saying women don’t care about watching sports, they just “love the story,” and “news magazines” are comfortable writing stories about how “messed up” Renee Zellweger‘s “new face” is. Basically, sexism is everywhere.

And it appears that speaking up did something… this time.

Coca-Cola, Sprite’s parent company, ended up pulling the series of ads in Ireland and released the following statement:

“We’re sorry for any offense caused by the #BrutallyRefreshing Sprite campaign in Ireland, which was intended to provide an edgy but humorous take on a range of situations,” the company states.

“Since its introduction in Ireland, Sprite has been associated with individuality and self-expression and we have always been committed to ensuring we deliver the highest standard of advertising. We recognize that on this particular occasion the content did not meet this standard and we apologize. The campaign has now come to an end and the advert in question will not appear again.”

So, we can’t stop calling these companies out for doing silly things. Heck, maybe the businesses will eventually learn that smart, kind marketing does work—even if it does take a bit longer for it to catch the public’s attention.

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Image of soda via Shutterstock

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.