A few days ago, Microsoft’s Xbox promotional campaign generated a fierce backlash when it drafted up fake letters for gamers to give to their girlfriends or wives aimed at convincing them to embrace the Xbox One. Microsoft is not alone, however, because now Samsung’s ad department is accused of being stuck in the Mad Men era.
The Independent notes that Samsung’s new Woman of Steel Facebook ad campaign has started a bit of a Twitter storm. The key part of the ad copy reads: “Women whose superhuman strengths make them inspirational role models, and whose quick speed and heightened tastes make entertaining look easy.” The offensive part here is presenting an ideal woman as somebody who focuses on entertaining at home and who thus deserves a Samsung kitchen as a reward for her domestic excellence.
Yet despite the apparent outcry on other social media, most of the actual responses on the Samsung Facebook page seem to be pretty enthusiastic, ranging from “I’m so excited that I made the top 10” to “So difficult to vote for ONE, all so deserving.”
Life is tough for the ad departments, because they are dealing with the fact that most Xbox purchasing decisions are made by men and most Samsung kitchen purchasing decisions are made by women. But aiming too squarely at male or female target audiences can easily lead to messages that sound patronizing or sexist. It’s interesting that even the most sophisticated tech companies with the world’s largest ad budgets have not been able to solve this conundrum.