Back to school ads stir up controversy

Charlene Sakoda
Odd NewsAugust 23, 2013
Back to school ads stir up controversy

Canada’s Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia has come under fire for a back to school advertising campaign that some call sexist and demeaning to women. The ads feature caricatures of girls next to statements like, “My favourite class? Shop!” “Mixing patterns-now that’s a science!” Also, “Social studies? Does posting my new boots on Facebook count?” The controversial ads sparked outrage, which was expressed on social media and in the press. Ramona Jennex, the Nova Scotia Education Minister told Global News, “I’m not pleased to see an ad campaign that would be stereotyping our young women and because, saying that the only thing that they would be interested in was shopping.” Still others like Debra Wells-Hopey, a certified image consultant, defend the ads calling them ironic. “Women, young ladies, girls going back to school today are far more sophisticated than many people may give them credit for and that they themselves too can see the irony, and the humor, the tongue-in-cheek-ness so to speak, of the ads.”

The advertisements ran for a week on radio, television, billboards and online before they were pulled by the shopping center. Mic Mac Mall’s marketing director, Rebecca Logan issued a statement of apology reading, “Mic Mac Mall is sincerely sorry for offending its customers. We’ve heard what our customers have to say and we understand why you’re angry. It was never intended to be offensive.” The mall also committed to donate $5000 to a local organization “that focuses on empowering girls” and is asking for the public’s help in identifying a deserving group.

The Canadian mall’s ads are not the only back to school campaigns under scrutiny. JC Penney recently took heat for their “First Day Look” campaign for returning students. Some said that the ad featuring a child sitting alone in the cafeteria because his clothes may not be cool enough, perpetuated bullying. JC Penney pulled the ad from their TV campaign and said that their marketing was not intended to trivialize or promote bullying.

Thoughts about a Kmart ad featuring the Minneapolis-based group Da Rich Kidzz, has viewers split. Some call the commercial “belittling and deplorable,” saying it racially profiles black kids by implying that all they do is “rap and dance.” But an equally vocal group say that Da Rich Kidzz are talented young positive rappers who rap about how much they love school, and that people are overreacting.

Opinion is clearly divided on these back-to-school ads. What do you think about the campaigns?

More information: Global News