Advert plays on stereotype for women but not men



I mailed one of the sponsors, Nyenrode Business Universiteit, to find out why they would back an advert like this. Just like one of the people commented in our first attempt at grasping this campaign, the point remains “don’t wiggle your arse and hope it’ll get you somewhere, instead choose the serious path”. Of course, we get that, but it misses the mark on stereotypes. Thanks to another person who commented on the latest Heineken advert where both women and men are stereotyped equally, I was able to make my point.

A nice communications manager over at Nyenrode called me and asked me why I thought this advert was sexist. I thought it was obvious, but apparently it was not. The male version of this advert, which I did not see but had vaguely heard of, has a man trying to get promoted by serenading his boss (also implied to be male) on the guitar. It might have worked if the boss was a woman, you could have had a cute Romeo and Juliet thing going, but no.

Coming back to the Heineken advert which shows women fauning over clothes and men over beer (both believable stereotypes), and the fact that the advert above has a male version allowed me to make my point that the female stereotype is very plausible (women could possibly get ahead by shaking their booty), while a man serenading his boss would never come to mind to a man trying to climb the corporate ladder. In other words, the adverts play on a female stereotype, but not a male one.

In both cases the managers are male, a stereotype that’s painfully true and bothers the Nyenrode man in his professional life, probably why he’s looking forward to seeing more women get an MBA at his establishment. He admitted having to explain the campaign to many of his colleagues, which I said had two possible reasons: one, the advert is brilliant and we’re all too stupid to get it or two, it’s poorly done and having to explain it means it’s a problem and could deter possible candidates.

Another reason why this advert doesn’t work is because in general Dutch women are not dyed-in-the-wool career women like in the US. I say US because the point of the advert is to obtain an MBA, which is an American concept. I also told him that since Dutch women aren’t big on careers (in general, no not everyone), the chances of them shaking their moneymaker to the top is even slimmer. He said, he wished Dutch women would understand that having a career is not something you do four days a week, something his busy career wife understands very well.


  1. I think that the Heineken ad fails really hard, because there is an enormous number of different types of shoes, while what the ad (boringly) shows is a walk-in fridge full of identical bottles of (boring) Heineken.
    Now, if that were a cellar packed with hundreds of different Belgian, Dutch, German, Czech beers… I too would squeal.

    Comment by Walter Aprile — February 9, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

  2. Imagine a fridge full of different Belgian beers and the women fauning over 50 pairs of timberland shoes or smth :)

    Comment by Orangemaster — February 9, 2009 @ 8:13 pm

  3. So the ad is bad, but not necessarily because it’s sexist but because its meaning isn’t obvious…?

    Comment by Barry — February 9, 2009 @ 9:23 pm

  4. Most attractive women these days are actually rather competent. This company ‘knows’ that, because they want their money, but they still do not ‘believe’ it.

    Comment by Mevr. Haus — February 9, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

  5. The ad is sexist because the stereotype is possible. And we all agree it’s not good either. I haven’t found a single person who likes it.

    Comment by Orangemaster — February 10, 2009 @ 7:58 am

  6. “He said, he wished Dutch women would understand that having a career is not something you do four days a week, something his busy career wife understands very well.”

    I think most Dutch women do understand, but with (small) kids it’s almost impossible to have a “real” career. But that is another discussion… I really enjoy my “Mickey Mouse” career, 3 days a week :p

    Comment by Astrid — February 10, 2009 @ 11:54 am

  7. Someone should make it possible, like they do in, oh, most Western countries :) Another discussion.

    You have enough kids, Minnie Mouse!

    Comment by Orangemaster — February 10, 2009 @ 11:59 am

  8. Seriously, this ‘sexist’ label gets thrown around way too eagerly. Yes it’s a bad ad, but mainly because the message isn’t clear. Advertising uses gender roles because it’s a quick and easy way to strike a cord with your audience. if you first have to explain a personage and then make a pun about it to get your ad message across, you’re not accomplishing anything.

    I don’t see this ad as sexist, nor do I see the Heineken ad as sexist. Or the Axe ads, for that matter. It’s tongue-in-cheek, delivered with a wink and a grin. If we take ourselves so seriously that we can’t appreciate humorous use of gender stereotypes (failed or not) we collectively need to grow a sense of humor.

    Comment by Barry — February 10, 2009 @ 4:16 pm

  9. Imagine a fridge full of different Belgian beers and the women fauning over 50 pairs of timberland shoes or smth :)

    Not Timberland. Timberland are pretty good quality shoes and definitely outclass Heineken. A full stock of plastic slippers from Zeeman, that’s more like it! :-D

    Comment by Eric — February 11, 2009 @ 9:50 am

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