It’s not an insight; it’s a dick joke

Cathie McGinn argues that the reason to end gender discrimination in the industry is because it’s damaging to creativity and leads to less effective work.

Sexism creates a lack of diversity at senior levels.
A lack of diversity at senior levels in adland stymies creativity.
In short, sexism leads to shit ads. Q.E.D.

Is this industry more sexist than others? Well, I hear a lot of stories from women:

  • an agency’s head of delivery being made redundant while on maternity leave;
  • a network agency boss sending his PA to find the group’s most attractive woman to accompany him to a event;
  • an HR director passing on complaints of workplace sexual harassment to an agency boss who asked her if the complaint was because she was upset that no one had complimented her figure;
  • the creative director who claimed having children had made her more of an asset to the agency because she better understood mothers;
  • many tales of the tacit assumption that the woman will fetch drinks in the boardroom no matter what her level of seniority.

And at every event I’ve ever attended where a senior successful woman speaks about her career, she will be asked how she has managed her success along with having a family, or whether her success has been at the cost of having children. I have, to this day, never heard that question asked of a man.

And these stories, of course, are shared off the record, so discrimination has no consequences and can continue unchecked in the silence.

The Communications Council has created a Gender Diversity Group to address the scarcity of female senior creatives and female agency bosses in network agency roles. There are several groups providing mentorship and peer support for women (among them She Says, of which I’m a member). These are groups set up to address a need, a real issue highlighted by the recent reports of a 40% pay discrepancy between men and women in the marketing and media industry.

Anti sexploitation campaigner Melinda Tankard Reist held a session at Mumbrella 360 recently, which despite a post having been one of the most commented on pieces we’ve ever run, was one of the most poorly attended of the otherwise mostly packed event. A discussion on diversity in the industry was also among the low turnout sessions.

There’s a reluctance and a fear of addressing the issue and it’s holding us back.  And it’s my belief that this, amongst other things, is what leaves this industry creating less creative and less effective ads. Here are a few recent examples.

Droga 5’s Domestos ad featured Camilla, fiancée of bodybuilding champion Phill. “I cook twenty kilos of chicken a week….” she muses, as we see her stacking a supermarket trolley and laboriously chopping up a mountain of vegetables, clearly intended to slake her partner’s gluttony. As Phill goes into the bathroom, we’re left with a shot of Camilla holding a bottle of the bleach brand and the clear implication that Phill’s mammoth appetite has calamitous consequences for the toilet; twenty kilos transmogrified into pebbledashed porcelain which Camilla will have the unenviable task of cleaning up.

“Phill is strong. Lucky, [Domestos] is even stronger”. Why, I find myself asking, is Phill incapable of cleaning up his own mess? While I applaud the filmmaking and the interesting direction of the content, I’m left with an unpleasant whiff in my nostrils; not, thankfully, caused by Phill himself, but the reek of lazy gender stereotyping. That same ad running shot for shot, but ending with Phill trundling sheepishly into the bathroom brandishing the Domestos himself would have genuinely been “category redefining,” whereas as it stands it’s a depiction of a woman carrying out a series of domestic chores and is simply category reaffirming.

Another recent lacklustre default sexist ad is the Lynx Body Buffercommercial. I found the original, now two years old, genuinely hilarious, but the repurposed version featured the less deft comedic touch of Aussie Sophie Monk.

Accompanied by a print activation featuring Monk posing in her knickers, the campaign took the archness and smut, well handled by Jamie Pressly in the original, and turned it into crude tits-out-for-the-lads single entendre. This campaign is not built on an insight: it’s a dick joke.

And so what? Well, given that Alpha, Ralph and FHM have all closed their doors, are we so sure that the consumer really engages with this kind of content? Do we care that the picture we create for young women is that they are not the heroes of their own lives but sex objects and support crew?

NRL’s new ad claims to be dedicated to the unsung heroes. According to the agency, the TVC was “designed to break down female stereotypes.” It’s chosen to do this by reinforcing the notion that the role women play in the sport is to fetch, carry, mop, scrub, to be “the queens of the canteens” – to provide support; anything but play the game themselves.

I’m not sure quite how restating these stereotypes will make them less pervasive. What’s particularly interesting about this ad is that the creative team is predominantly female, demonstrating that sexism can be perpetuated by women as much as men.

The solution is not positive discrimination, which is just sexism under another name: it’s about embracing diversity.

It means boards and senior execs pausing for a moment before hiring a replica of themselves and considering whether the breadth of creative ideas that might result from a creative team being made up of a diverse group of people with life experience broader than that merely conferred by owning a penis might actually help to create extraordinary work. It was good to see Clemenger BBDO Brisbane move in that direction today.

“When it comes to bias, it seems that the desire to believe in a meritocracy is so powerful that until a person has experienced sufficient career-harming bias themselves they simply do not believe it exists” – Ben Barres, transgender biologist, Stanford University

  • Cathie McGinn


  1. Sam de Brito
    19 Jun 12
    1:17 pm

  2. Great piece. Well said.

  3. Ricki
    19 Jun 12
    1:18 pm

  4. Everything Cathy said.

    As a senior woman in the industry, I look forward to the day my male colleagues pick up the call to an unattended phone without first looking to see if I’m going to do it.

  5. Jim
    19 Jun 12
    2:00 pm

  6. jeesus.. which agency have you worked at Cathy? I don’t see any of that in my agency, its just not how business works in 2012. Am I alone or does this stuff still go on..?

  7. KC
    19 Jun 12
    2:00 pm

  8. sooo whats the plan to …?

  9. Kate Richardson
    19 Jun 12
    2:07 pm

  10. Jim, you must have blokey blindness as this stuff goes on everywhere. Too many tales to tell.

  11. Goodone
    19 Jun 12
    2:09 pm

  12. Yawn.
    and isn’t Linx a client of your agency Cathie?

  13. Advocado
    19 Jun 12
    2:11 pm

  14. I partly agree, Cathy – the lynx ad is poorly delivered and sexist. But you have to be careful about blaming advertising for perpetrating sexism when it’s just reflecting an unpleasant truth, as in the Domestos ad. It’s not just ads which are stuck in the fifties in this case, but Australian society.

  15. Alison_F
    19 Jun 12
    2:19 pm

  16. @Jim…. I think your comment may just have proved the quote that Cathie ended her piece on… ie: “You haven’t experienced it personally, so it mustn’t exist”… Could it be that as a man, you just haven’t been on the receiving end of what this post is touching upon?
    Regardless, thanks for this post, Cathie… as a female creative I have actually learnt to accept this sort of thing over the years. Frustrating. One thing I have observed though, is that it’s a very rare woman who is willing to help out another at the risk of being targeted/taken for granted/harassed herself.

  17. SK
    19 Jun 12
    2:24 pm

  18. I think this is a massive over-reaction! It is natural female make-up to get people drinks and be hospitable. Women can be far more polite and friendly so naturally sound better when answering the phone. Of course people ask about how women manage with their kids rather than asking the blokes – we are the maternal ones, we have the mammary glands that feed our children and with those maternal instincts, we are generally the ones that would leave work to go take care of our child. That’s ok though, we are their mum, the one who carried them for 9 months. We have that connection with our baby.

    When there is a heavy box to carry up the stairs at work, I will ask one of the guys to do it – I don’t hear them complaining about how sexist it is that a WOMAN asks a MAN to carry something for her. The simple fact is that naturally, he has more muscles than me and therefore, has more physical strength to carry the box.

    Enough with the feminism!!

  19. Notmyrealname
    19 Jun 12
    2:24 pm

  20. I think that’s a bit harsh about the NRL ad. It portrays a truth, not a stereotype. (launching long, pointless discussion about the difference).
    The other stuff? We’ll don’t rise to the bait.

  21. Disagree...
    19 Jun 12
    2:28 pm

  22. Cathy, I completely disagree that there is no insight.

    The insight is guys aged 16-24 like dick jokes!

  23. Gander
    19 Jun 12
    2:31 pm

  24. A lot of good points in here, but I wouldn’t be scouring the pages of Zoo hoping to find shining examples of the positive portrayal of women. It’s like going to a pub at midnight and bemoaning the lack of sober people.
    One of my favourite sexist ads is this one:
    Is that just a playful slap on the arse at the end, or is that sexual objectification? I’m probably overreacting.
    As for the NRL spot, I’m as sceptical as you are. But for me it simply says “We acknowledge you do all these things and we don’t take them for granted.” I wouldn’t be knocking any steps the NRL makes in the right direction regarding how they appreciate women. Public perception wise, they’re coming from a pretty low base.
    So, if the thrust of this article is ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’ then I couldn’t agree more, but it’s a two way street. Personally, I’m growing weary of seeing ads where the man is the stooge, made to look stupid, or on the receiving end of a withering look from his significant other. Whether it’s ‘just a joke’ or ‘to be taken with a grain of salt’ as the article suggests, sexism can be perpetuated by women as much as men.

  25. Renee
    19 Jun 12
    2:36 pm

  26. Great article Cathie, so glad someone raising these points.

    Your point about the juggling career & family question is so pertinent, I am so over that angle.

    On a tangent, have you ever noticed that sportswomen are introduced as ‘Sophie, World Kayak Champion and mother of 2…’ You never hear a child count when it comes to introducing sportsmen.

    KC – The plan? Awareness is the first step.

  27. Richard
    19 Jun 12
    2:50 pm

  28. It’s not easy being a man working in the PR/ marketing game either. We are out numbered 8 to 1. Life is not fair.

  29. Alison_F
    19 Jun 12
    2:53 pm

  30. @SK…. I gather you only have sons? You couldn’t really be happy about your daughters growing up in a world where their only purpose in life is to get the drinks, answer the phones and feed their babies with their mammaries??

  31. Emmy
    19 Jun 12
    3:02 pm

  32. @SK – if it’s not the woman’s job to get drinks, answer the phone etc, it’s rude to assume she will do it just because she’s a woman. That’s sexist. If a senior exec is busy in a meeting, why should she have to answer the phone when that’s not her priority? As for having children at home – asking the “mum” how she copes inplies that the mum does all the child-rearing. That should not be the case if both parents work, the load should be shared by mum and dad. Why doesn’t dad get asked how he’s coping with the kids? Because he’s not expected to care for them in a way that the mum does. That’s sexist.

    As for carrying boxes …. yes – men and women have different roles. Men ARE physically stronger, and women give birth to babies – but where there is no physical imperitive (answering phones [women are more polite than men? seriously?], child rearing as a whole) forcing it upon one gender is sexist.

  33. Rob
    19 Jun 12
    3:07 pm

  34. Discussion of sexism aside it’s a bit sensationalist to claim sexism = shit ads. That conclusion is about as convincing as this mathematical explantion of why girls are evil:


  35. richie
    19 Jun 12
    3:08 pm

  36. good article Cathy.

    gender stereotypes work both ways tho.

    domestos –

    woman portrayed as subordinate female who cooks and cleans
    man portrayed as boof head who eats and shits

    here’s one of my fav ‘sexist’ ads.

  37. Charmaine Moldrich
    19 Jun 12
    3:11 pm

  38. Great article, the gender imbalance is alive and well in most industries and probably perpetuated in most homes. While I agree that advetising, at times only reflects what is happening in society, maybe it’s time we use our creative flair to lead change?

    Having attended both sessions of Mumbrella mentioned in the story, I have to say that Melanie Tankard’s presentation was filled with inaccuracies and was so biased that I am not surprised that so few people would have engaged in that session. We need more balanced debate, not an ‘extreme’ view that berates using misinformation as a tool to do so.

    It is time for everyone to be using the domestos because ultimately we, women, hold up half the sky. The great benefit is that equal society is going to be happy and more productive one where we all win.

  39. Archie
    19 Jun 12
    3:17 pm

  40. this piece is so undergraduate and reactionary

    newsflash 1: a fair percentage of women like caring for their male partners by cooking and cleaning

    newsflash 2: anyone of either gender who has kids should express admiration for women who raise children and succeed in demanding careers. Bravo

    and dare i say – what if the job of the woman on mat leave was legitimately restructured? why should this be forbidden?

  41. Louise
    19 Jun 12
    3:20 pm

  42. Very timely. I was invited out to dinner on Friday by a business partner to thank me for my hard work on a four month-long campaign. I was the only female in attendance with four men.

    When I arrived, my (male) boss said “Where’s (husband’s name)? Shouldn’t you be with him and the family tonight? This is a boys night.”

  43. AdGrunt
    19 Jun 12
    3:22 pm

  44. A rather sprawling piece.

    Sure, sexism exists, or has at least in the past in agencies. Mainly in the older, more entrenched agencies, in my experience.

    But I’m a little confused about the leap from elements of an industry being sexist, to MTR and her pearl-clutching chums, to Sophie Monk appearing in a localisation of a successful international ad.

    They are three distinct questions. The article demonstrates no credible link except claimed variations on “sexism”

    If one is going to cite the Domestos ad, then how about noting the protagonist being a body-builder – the male equivalent of the blonde joke. How about the thousands of ads premised on daft men or stupid husbands.

    Perhaps its just that its easier to express some ideas using hyperbole and stereotypes, because we collectively understand them. That’s why they’re called stereotypes. And that’s why so many ads rely on them.

  45. Anon
    19 Jun 12
    3:23 pm

  46. Telling a mother she knows more about being a mother is sexist?

  47. Hear me roar
    19 Jun 12
    3:24 pm

  48. I really enjoyed this article. It has everything I look for in an article about sexism.

    1. a bunch of anecdotes, provided without context, that “prove” sexism exists, only 2 of which actually include sexism.
    2. links to some “sexist” ads which stereotype women. I like how the writer has ignored the minor detail that these “stereotypes” largely exist because these are the roles that each gender actually play in real life in most homes. It has inspired me to complain about how mower ads target men.
    3. the old “women are paid less than men” bit. Of course they are, a pretty big chunk of women leave the workforce for years (decades) to have kids…why should employers be expected to pay less experience staff the same as more experienced staff?

  49. Alan Robertson
    19 Jun 12
    3:36 pm

  50. Tim, make the minimum requirement to “have your say” reveal names and place of employment.
    Opinions of people too scared to be identified are not worth a stamp.

    I know you’ve had this debate before but harden up. It devalues your product.

    Alan Robertson
    Kinesis Media

  51. Roberta Castillas
    19 Jun 12
    3:45 pm

  52. What’s the problem? Mags like Zoo make women look AMAZING. Each sale is a man succumbing to the power of WOMAN!

  53. Sam de Brito
    19 Jun 12
    4:14 pm

  54. How suprising that a discussion about gender stereotypes degrades into Us v Them grievance listing. It’s two sides of the same coin – the depiction of women can’t be addressed in isolation to the depiction of men.

  55. CJ
    19 Jun 12
    4:14 pm

  56. Agree with some points in this article; not so sure about others. But I wouldn’t read too much into the poor attendance at Melinda Tankard Reist’s session – Probably had more to do with the presenter than the subject matter…

  57. Sparrow's mate
    19 Jun 12
    4:47 pm

  58. I am so over sexism, it’s just planet earthism, thats how it works. Men are better at some things, women are better at some things. We can’t all be equally good at everything. When was the last time a white guy won the 100m sprint at Olympic level? Life. Deal with it.

  59. Pedant
    19 Jun 12
    4:53 pm

  60. Ah, advertising: where people argue there’s no way they could overlook something like how sexism affects the industry – and yet none can spell a name correctly as it is displayed at the top of the page.

    *golf claps*

  61. Luke
    19 Jun 12
    4:58 pm

  62. I am a ‘bloke’ and think it is all great…advertising should never ignore basic instinct as a means of appeal.

    From the outside, the ad industry does appear to be a very competitive, dog-eat-dog industry…which of course are predominantly male traits. If these traits were not on show; others would be. Simple.

    Embrace our differences…we are beautiful bunch with flaws, passions and desires.

  63. SK
    19 Jun 12
    5:10 pm

  64. @Alison_F – I have a daughter. I think it could be an over exaggeration to say their “only purpose in life” I don’t recall seeing anyone say that. Women accomplish many great things in life so don’t say that is currently our “only purpose” please.

    Men and women are different – me pointing out that we can be far more polite and hospitable shouldn’t come as an insult to anyone. I disagree with EMMY regarding parents sharing the responsibility. I spent maternity leave with my daughter, I carried her for nine months – I know her better than anyone on this earth (including my husband!), so yes, I think I would prefer to be the one to tend to her the most rather than my husband.

    Without stereotyping and gender targeted ads, how would we go about marketing and advertising? Assuring that man, woman, young, old were all accounted for even when a product specifically relates to male hygiene?

    @Sparrow’s mate – PERFECTLY SAID! THANK YOU!

  65. Ricki
    19 Jun 12
    5:25 pm

  66. @SK “Enough with the feminism!”

    So on that basis you’ll be handing back your right to vote, your right to work, your right to equal pay, your right to not be raped and your reproductive rights? Yeah, what has feminism ever done for you and your daughter?

  67. jean cave
    19 Jun 12
    5:52 pm

  68. I was the only women member of a team designated as “Formula One” for five years. Plenty of time to study the species at work. Standby for stereotyping. The younger guys would trample over the rest of the crew, do anything to get noticed and then bugger off. Slightly more mature ones (family men) spent a lot of time subverting systems that made them appear more useful to the company, than they were. The rest were pretty transient in the ‘mad, bad or sad’ sector. They were great fun to work with.
    My point? It was the company culture that allowed them to be a diverse bunch of individuals, but this luxury was never extended to the women who worked there. Any hint of less than mainstream and the ceiling glazed over. This remained the case throughout several different styles of management which became fashionable over the years. I could go on.

  69. John Hollands
    19 Jun 12
    6:22 pm

  70. To quote the beginning of the article:

    •an agency’s head of delivery being made redundant while on maternity leave;

    Nobody else thought this amusing? The agency’s head of DELIVERY??? Maternity… baby delivery… deliver a baby… um, nobody???

    Oh, OK.

  71. Simone Drewry
    19 Jun 12
    7:09 pm

  72. Creating greater diversity (particularly gender diversity) within the industry is a cause I am sure many of you know I am passionate about. The percentage of women in senior roles (especially senior creative roles) within Australia is very low – approximately 15%. This is certainly not a new stat. We all know this – we have known it for many years.

    So my questions are: “How creative can we really be without diversity?” and “What are we going to do about it and how long do we intend to take?”

    Thank you to Cathie McGinn for a well written and very insightful piece. I believe, for many reasons, the timing is right to balance the status quo. The model of the traditional agency is changing (many believe it is actually dead). We no longer have the standard structures and boundaries to adhere to….a changing client landscape and the role of social media is broadening the parameters of the skill set required and subsequent departmental structures.

    I would like to see leaders in our industry, both agency and clients, put themselves on a self-administered journey of challenging their structure, their hiring criteria and taking an honest look at their gender balance at all levels within their respective organisations. The Communications Council has undertaken extensive research into this issue – we look forward to hearing more of their insights – when they speak I hope everyone listens.

    I truly believe client relationships and the output of work will benefit enormously as a result. We need to work together on this issue to keep the industry modern, relevant, balanced and most importantly creative. Watch this space….

  73. Jew Barrymore
    19 Jun 12
    7:30 pm

  74. I’m with SK, “Enough with the feminism!!”.

  75. Ricki
    20 Jun 12
    9:49 am

  76. Cathy, I hope you realise the mistake you made here.

    Writing a grown up article about a grown up subject, with the intention it be read and discussed by grown ups. What were you thinking?

  77. Inolongerbelieveinevolution
    20 Jun 12
    10:16 am

  78. I used to believe in evolution but some of the comments here make me believe a bunch of you are still stuck in the stone ages. Here’s hoping you don’t have webbed feet, tails and play banjo’s aka ‘deliverance.’
    Just because someone has a vagina doesn’t mean they want to do your dishes or pop out babies. Grow up, get over it, sexism does exist and the world is not white picket fence perfect at all times.

    And yes, I did just say vagina.


  79. Charlie_k
    20 Jun 12
    1:33 pm

  80. @Emmy “child rearing as a whole) forcing it upon one gender is sexist”

    That’s not feminism, that’s millions of years of evolution!

  81. Stu
    20 Jun 12
    2:23 pm

  82. Nobody complains about the sexism portrayed in the classic ‘stupid clueless man saved by clever savvy woman’ ad typecast.

    But whatever.

  83. Alison_F
    20 Jun 12
    2:35 pm

  84. @ Stu… that’s because men are too stupid to complain!!

    (JUST JOKES!!!!!!)

  85. Archie
    20 Jun 12
    2:43 pm

  86. We should all be afraid of the inherent sexism of remarks like “How creative can we really be without diversity?”

  87. The Law
    20 Jun 12
    5:27 pm

  88. Archie,

    In regards to your comment asking why should it be forbidden to make a woman redundant whilst on maternity leave, I suggest you check out the workplace laws that Fairwork Australia enforces compliance with. Any man or woman returning to work after parental leave (and this includes mat leave) are entitled to come back to the position they were in immediately before going on leave. If that position no longer exists at the business, the employer must offer the employee a suitable available position for which the employee is qualified which is nearest in pay and status to their original position.

    If you are at management level, knowing this information may save your company a hefty redundancy payout should you elect to instigate what you referred to as a ‘legitimate redundancy’ in this type of circumstance.

    So few agencies have HR managers or they have MD’s with limited understanding of workplace rights and responsibilities and the results can be both costly and nasty.

  89. paul
    21 Jun 12
    11:26 am

  90. Total thumbs up from me on this!

    Far too much hideous crap oozes from the commercial screens, and it demeans us all.

    Advertising is a a tax on our time (now some 20 minutes every TV hour) and it will be tolerated only as far as it provides good stories for the general public.

    Once it starts being divisive and cruel, playing to the beast within us all, it forfeits its right to exist.

  91. Richard Moss
    21 Jun 12
    3:48 pm

  92. This is such a simple issue. Unfortunately, men and women have sought to make it complex and they have succeeded.

    The biggest difficulty with this issue ( a large part of which is a non issue) is how to avoid a “Thus Spake Zarathustra” approach , or worse still, a Khalil Gibran approach (Your children are not your children twaddle) which are tiresome yet obvious ways of imparting the many facts related to the subject.

    The world is full of men and women, boys and girls. Being a human is above all things an occupation where fellow feeling is of paramount importance for the majority.

    Being a man or boy and being a woman or girl, are highly individual occupations.

    We are different in so many ways, we are related to our gender in a deeply blueprinted and preprogrammed way that reaches back thousands, even millions of years. That we should love each other and care for each other and respect each others right to equality should be fundamental.

    That we naturally support and enhance each others gender is a fact beyond denial or control. That we will react differently depending upon our age differences our social environment and our assumed (sometimes foolishly) social superiority or subordination, is something we must learn to live with.

    Without getting into the Simone de Beauvoir trap here, I once observed little girls at a kindergarten playing with a wooden toy fire engine, and I was amused to see them wrap it in a blanket and give it a bottle, before settling it down on its side for an afternoon nap.

    They knew full well the function of a fire engine, but they preferred to nurture it as a baby.

    Women do juggle paid work and a family, and it is no simple feat, so why be surprised that they are asked the question?
    If abortion is a woman’s right to choose and if a woman is to choose the right to a family and a paid job, then she can demand maternity leave and associated payments to have a family. After the children are born, one or other of the parents must stay with the children and the other work.

    Mutual respect, parenthood and the happiness of children are the important issues, all the rest is largely a plain littered with social claptrap.

    Once you become a parent, everything outside of your children’s happiness tends to fade at least a little. We are simply not as important as we like to think we are.

  93. Luke
    21 Jun 12
    4:42 pm

  94. @Richard, what a beautiful and most articulate post. I am going to copy this, and paste it on every lame post on this subject…and of course claim it as my own ;-). +1

  95. Jen
    21 Jun 12
    9:53 pm

  96. I am the highest qualified staff member in my job, yet, despite my role moving from graduate office admin to marketing coordinator for over a year I am STILL expected to get the tea, answer the phone, pick up my bosses dry cleaning and buy the staff lunches. Sexism is prevalent in Australia and especially in the corporate world.

  97. jean cave
    22 Jun 12
    6:33 am

  98. @richard
    I move in an admittedly small but non-mainstream sphere of influence and during my whole life . . I have only met one couple who have swopped traditional parent roles permanently . . that is the reality.

  99. Richard Moss
    22 Jun 12
    9:53 am

  100. @ jean cave

    I don’t doubt it. Children and Mothers belong together. I am sure there are very few women who would not wish to mother their own children. I am a father and a grandfather, I have had a career, but I never benefited personally from my earnings, I directed it into houses and schools, toys , books and food and clothing etc etc.

    I do not understand what women want when they head enthusiastically for the “glass ceiling” any more than I understand those men (largely psychopathic) who crave the designer suits, and the power of the top office.

  101. Joan
    22 Jun 12
    9:54 am

  102. The advertising industry in Australia is a bastion of 1950s stereotypes – can’t we move on – please?! Let’s have a brave new future rather than perpetuate a fantasy of the ‘good old days’. Joan

  103. Richard Moss
    22 Jun 12
    10:40 am

  104. @Joan

    You make a point which suggests a bright outcome.

    Unfortunately, the 1950s Stereotypes are the result of a generation who wished to make a brave new future rather than perpetuate a fantasy of the ‘good old days’.

    Brave or otherwise, the future is just that; the hoped for and projected possibility that may or may not lie ahead, an uncertain and unknown time that may or may not happen. Our past is at least a reality, we can explore it and learn from it.

    We all proceed with hope, both genders, the young and the old.

  105. Kristian
    22 Jun 12
    6:12 pm

  106. Well, if anything, the comments to this article demonstrate the reason why we are bombarded with dull, thoughtless and uncreative advertising – the men in the industry are simple creatures with simple thoughts.

  107. To use your argument...
    25 Jun 12
    11:38 pm

  108. Why don’t we hire more aboriginal people?

    More disabled people?

    More old people?

    Sorry… but gender has nothing to do with being good. Good is good. Male or female, black or white, it doesn’t matter at the good places. And it shouldn’t.

    Let’s put an end to all discrimination.

  109. Sam
    26 Jun 12
    2:27 pm

  110. Awesome article Cathy followed by comments that make me very sad. @Rikki, thanks for your responses!

  111. Beery
    26 Jun 12
    3:12 pm

  112. Great blog-piece only because it made people discuss it, a communication objective. Interesting to see responses from both genders, quite a (generalised) distinct line in the sand in terms of seeing it as a big issue or being truly pragmatic.

    But I’m confused, do men actually clean toilets? The two twenty-something males in our house don’t.

  113. jean cave
    26 Jun 12
    3:21 pm

  114. It seems to me that what we have now is too many men marketing to other men, and it rankles. Their idea of diversity is to pretend to be a woman/not male/young/other and they get it so wrong. The whole ‘sex sells stuff’ is dead chaps. Lets move on with a more holistic perspective.

  115. Richard Moss
    27 Jun 12
    8:11 am

  116. @jean cave

    “Sex sells stuff ” will very likely never be dead for either gender.

    You say “Let’s move on with a more holistic perspective.” What is it that has eclipsed or killed off “sex sells” ? Could you give an example?

  117. Offal Spokesperson
    27 Jun 12
    2:09 pm

  118. Headline….”Advertising world in stereotyping shock”

  119. Will
    27 Jun 12
    4:02 pm

  120. @Kristian
    I hope you realise you have made the most sexist, offensive and demoralising comment here. If I were to say “women are simple” or even imply it, how would you feel?
    The sad reality is sexism occurs all the time, and it’s always horrible. But never be fooled into thinking it only goes in one direction.

  121. jean cave
    27 Jun 12
    4:30 pm

  122. My point was drenching everything in the lowest common denominator of male hormone is not pleasant for all of us. It is cliche and a simulacrum of itself. So be it.
    There are other ways to see things though that I prefer and there should be more of it proportionately to correct the current imbalance.

  123. Richard Moss
    29 Jun 12
    10:13 am

  124. @jean.

    Drenching “everything” in the lowest common denominator of male hormone?

    “So be it”?

    To “correct” the current imbalance?

    These comments worry me slightly in the balance.

    In my mind, sex does not refer to male sex, but to sex. I must say that a woman could sell almost anything to me with greater ease than a man, simply by virtue of my heterosexuality, and I am sure I am not alone.

    When women are involved, I naturally feel charmed and happy, and therefore much more likely to give time consideration and potentially, to buy the product.

    For the vast majority of people, sex sells. Of course, I don’t want advertising to begin and end on this note, and to this extent, I agree with you . There must be a range of advertising techniques and styles, and there needs to be a much more intellectual reasoning behind many campaigns.

    Female sexuality is much more complex than male sexuality, but this does not mean that there is a need for baseness in male sexual interest, any more than there is a need to be super complex about the same interest in the female.

    Heterosexuality and homosexuality have been quite subtly exploited, both coincidently and directly, in advertisements for foundation garments, bicycles, shoes and other clothing, sporting goods, photography products, bedroom furniture, linen, cooking, candies, and even household cleaning products.

  125. Champ Kind
    29 Jun 12
    4:53 pm

  126. What in the hell’s diversity?

  127. Meljay
    2 Jul 12
    1:12 pm

  128. Such a great piece of writing and some shallow, uninformed opinions from people who can’t use statistics or do simple research on the impacts of sexual objectification of women, domestic violence, the leading cause of homelessness, rape, and the pay and promotion gap.
    Sexism is not okay, just like we mostly managed to accept that racism wasn’t okay. Guys just know stuff about stuff , like women enjoy cleaning shitty toilets, and women are better at making cups of tea, and men are physically stronger. So problem solved. I know this cos of my mum and sister.
    Get some intellect, do some research, grow up and stop being so 20th century.
    Well done Cathy.

  129. Ron Burgandy
    3 Jul 12
    1:15 pm

  130. @Champ Kind, I believe diversity is an old, old wooden ship.

  131. mick
    4 Jul 12
    3:46 pm

  132. SK….1) I do hope you are in fact a woman 2) how dare you be so sensible and down to earth when people are doing all they can to keep the noise level up.

    Emmy… nice dream of theoretical parental equality…but as nature shows… women are the Mothers they do have a greater bond with offspring and they do, with rare exception, understand other mums better than men. It is only our conceptualised commerce driven human world that dreams up abnormal equalities. e.g. I think all women should be allowed to have big muscles for equality in heavy lifting (but not my wife please – something instintive tells me I like her graceful sensitive feminine ways- and she sounds so good on the phone too), and women have more chance of that than me getting a child bearing womb….but really it should be everymans right to be a women………sounding absurd enough yet??

    Most of this is waffle…but fun to read….I have employed and been employed by women…and similar to men…some are bloody great some are not.

    I have found that good operators tend to be smart, smart operators have self respect and people with self respect dont kop being treated poorly for long.

    If a person is contributing and an asset to a business gender is irrelevant.

  133. Lisa O
    9 Jul 12
    2:06 pm

  134. Thanks Cathie, I like to think that us chicks can and do subvert this kind of thinking from the inside out. I totally applaud the agencies that consciously (or perhaps otherwise) hire women in senior roles.

    However just to throw another thought into the equation, I do feel that clever (i.e inclusive) creative ideas come out of greater diversities of viewpoint – e.g. culture, gender, sexuality, politics, aesthetics, etc etc. I’d love to see an even mix of all sorts right across the board, from designers to coders to suits to ADs to admin. Sometimes it all feels a little too homogenous for my liking.

  135. Richard Moss
    10 Jul 12
    10:35 am

  136. @Lisa O

    I hear you and I like your point. However, nature rarely does things in straight lines or in even mixes across the board. If anything has the potential to be worse than bias, it’s loading bases to even out the mix.

    Banks did it by promoting women to manager status and at the same time reducing the power of bank managers. My Niece has a business card which identifies her as a manager, unfortunately, the only managing she does is to rearrange the office furniture once a week.

  137. Wild Oscar
    12 Jul 12
    8:37 am

  138. A lot of sweeping generalisations here, on both sides of the argument. A great pity.

  139. Richard Moss
    12 Jul 12
    4:02 pm

  140. @ Wild Oscar

    What did you expect? Much of the argument is based upon a sweeping generalisation. The original article, which relies in part upon hearsay and bias, also ignores basic facts.

    Tits out for the Lads?
    I couldn’t get a table for dinner in my local pub last week, because a “hens night” party had booked it out for a male strip show from Sydney. What were they getting out for the Lasses?

    “Sex sells” is only the last frame of the story board, the truth is way back in a much older set of books.

    Unfortunately it can never be discussed in a “Have your say” comments column. We would need a vastly bigger platform and much more time.

  141. Amy
    18 Jul 12
    10:38 pm

  142. “Enough with the feminism!!”