Samsung Will Pay for Sexism

Rebecca Greenfield

This week, in the lead-up to its big reveal of the iPhone killer that wasn't, we learned that Samsung has been doubling down on its marketing to increase mobile sales. And then, at the denouement on Thursday night, we were introduced to the Galaxy S IV phone by way of a stereotypical spectacle that offended women in the New York audience and across the web. Well, surprise surprise: That company that just used bridesmaids in heels to demonstrate why a female might want to buy a piece of technology? Yeah, it has a history of sexism in advertising. And the wave of egregious marketing choices has come at a strangely obvious time: Samsung's marketing blitz arrived just as the mobile market was trying to close the gap on all those men who like Android phones such as the Galaxy. Here are just a few examples of expensive ad campaigns turned tone-deaf:

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Quiet Your Woman with a Samsung Phone!

Samsung at least acknowledges women might like technology in this 2010 ad, featuring a man hushing his "ditzy" girlfriend's one-sided conversation by way of his Samsung Captivate, part of the Galaxy phone line. It's just like putting a child in front of the television — shush her up with a shiny new toy:

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Social Times notes this commercial is "not sending even a little information of what Galaxy has to offer," besides a pacifier for silly women. 

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A Smart Camera for a Dumb Girl

In England, Samsung used reality-TV star Amy Childs for its "Too Smart for Amy Ad" camera campaign last spring. She can't figure out the SMART model of Samsung's point-and-shoot... because it's too "smart" for her. 

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Women Doing Stupid Things with Smart Phones

Some of the commenters on our report from Thursday night's sexist festivities pointed immediately to the current ad Samsung is running for its Galaxy Note II "phablet," which has been airing on major primetime and sporting events for weeks:

As one of our commenters wrote: "The woman is portrayed as a lazy liar and the boss and co-worker as a misogynist," wrote one. In it the woman (Workaholics' Jillian Bell, who appears fine with misogynist comedy typecasting) plays games with "puppies!" while the man uses it to do responsible work things, and then he suggests she could get fired, and then he dupes her into going and having "fun" with the boss. Silly woman.

...and Technology with Free Makeup

Not only did the 2010 Galaxy S "Femme" phone come in pink — a color stereotype that gets a lot of tech companies and other product makers in trouble — but just to lure women, who couldn't possibly want a phone for its apps, OS, or processor, the device came bundled with... AVEDA products!

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So, yeah, Samsung markets aggressively to women... aggressively. None of which is to exonerate other gadget companies: Both Google and Apple have had their moments in portraying women as techno-idiots. Well, surprise surprise: We're not.