Every year, I feel really bad for the interns stuck managing the social media accounts of advertisers spewing sexist stereotypes during the Super Bowl.
With millions of viewers using the Representation Project's hashtag #NotBuyingIt to tweet back at advertisers, it cannot be fun for them to have to comb through some much valid criticism. Although many have noted that the ads this year were less chauvinistic than they have been in the past (yay feminism!), many companies still tried to pull the same old tricks from the same old book.
Take Volkswagen for instance, who took the "doctor is his mother riddle" to a whole other level by codifying sexist assumptions about engineers into their commercial. Watch a father casually instill the idea that only men can be engineers by telling his daughter that every time a Volkswagen reaches 100,000 miles, "a German engineer gets his wings." Yes, you read that right. Apparently, this profession has its own gender!
Are all engineers old white dudes? Apparently Volkswagen thinks the answer is yes. Unless of course you're a hot engineer babe. Then you get to be the butt of a sexual harassment joke!
Thankfully, Goldie Blox was there to counter-balance this horrifyingly sexist message by reminding women and girls that they can be whatever the hell they want (and that includes becoming the best engineer the world has ever seen). The toy company's social media staff must have been much more amused by the tweets they were receiving last night. Volkswagen? Well, I certainly wouldn't bet on that.
UPDATE 02/03/2014: According to Edelman's Senior Account Supervisor, the aforementioned ad is part of larger marketing campaign that the Volkswagen team had been working on during the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. After the game, the company released a series of other commercials online, including the one below featuring a female engineer. It was shot before Game Day and was not issued as a response to the initial controversial commercial.
Is this Volkswagen recognizing its own sexism and being self-deprecating or is this just a poorly executed advertisement strategy?
Check out my full conversation about the Super Bowl and sexist ads with the Representation Project and Kat Gordon from the 3% Conference.