No matter how far technology might advance, there’s always been one little area that the reigning powers-that-be have never quite managed to figure out. Or more specifically an area they’ve never quite figured out how to talk to. Tech companies, meet women. And then stop treating them like idiots.
Yesterday, Motorola announced the Moto X — an impressive phone that could easily speak for itself. But unfortunately for everyone with eyes, Motorola’s marketing team had a decidedly different idea. A let’s-lure-in-12-year-old-girls-then-make-dick-jokes sort of idea. Naturally, the internet responded in full force, mocking Motorola into submission, and the company quickly adjusted the offending ad to contain fewer references to dicks.
But that’s just one example in tech’s long, torrid, highly pandering history with marketing to women. These are some of the more atrocious examples. We recommend reading this with a firm wall nearby — you’re going to want something to smash your head into.
Back in 2009, Dell decided that its normal online shopping experience just wasn’t working out for the ladiez. It was boring. It was full of jargon. It didn’t have any pastels. So in order to appeal to the more sensitive sex, Dell decided to launch the female-oriented Della. (See what they did there? They added an ‘a’. Because it’s for ladies. And it sounds like bella. Phee-mayls.)
On this now-defunct (we can’t understand for the life of us why) website, women curious about these wild new things called “computers” could see other women just like themselves doing the things they loved to do — smiling, drinking coffee, lounging, pulling blankets tighter, smiling — but with computers in hand. Technology isn’t so scary after all!
But just in case the well-dressed woman typing alone by a babbling brook didn’t get the point across, Della even included a section of tech tips to help you figure out
which laptop to buy what laptops are. For instance, it extolled the virtues of a laptop’s ability to play “media”:
Listen to music, view pictures or even watching a movie. Some netbooks even offer an optional DVD drive if you’re not already streaming music online.
But it’s not just a means of consuming entertainment — it’s a way of life. One article entitled “Seven Unexpected Ways a Netbook Can Change Your Life” began with the following:
Once you get beyond how cute they are, you’ll find that netbooks can do a lot more than check your e-mail…. You can track calories, carbs and protein with ease, watch online fitness videos, map your running routes and more.
Sorry what was that? I still can’t seem to look away. Patterns! Successorise! Guh.
Keep in mind that this wasn’t at an age when computers could conceivably have been a novelty for anybody. This was just four years ago.
Obviously, women weren’t too pleased with Dell’s outreach; after being roundly mocked and lambasted, Dell put Della to rest just 11 days after it launched.
Casio Make-Up Mode
Because Casio knows the first thing women see in a picture of themselves is a forehead full of blemishes and wrinkles that spell out the words “dying alone”, the company decided to help lonesome ladies everywhere by capitalising on their supposed insecurities. And so Makeup Mode setting of the Casio Exilim EX-Z330 was born.
The cameras themselves were a perfectly fine pieces of tech, with the higher end rounding off at 14.1 megapixels, a 26mm wide angle lens and HD video. But you wouldn’t see any of that info on the ads.
What Casio did want the women of the world to know is that its 12 levels of image processing would “help smooth the appearance of your skin and soften facial shadows.” All stereotypically female aesthetic desires. Women be photoshoppin’ their blemishes!
And oh, yeah, this was just about a year and a half ago.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Announcement
Oh, the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 — it’s been mere months, but it feels like decades ago. Pre-women’s suffrage, specifically. Finally, when it was time to announce its marquee offering of the year, the peak of Samsung’s technical splendour thus far, its crack marketing squad decided to use the opportunity to show off all the ladythings it can do. And it was like watching a plane crash into the ground, over. And over. And over again. And oh how we all wished we were on that plane. Anything to make the pain from what was happening stop.
A gaggle of women teetered onstage in heels and dresses, their voices comically high as they discussed the benefits of air gesture controls while cooking because of “sticky fingers”. Get a Samsung Galaxy S4 and you’ll never have a mussed nail or ruined hairdo again. Plus, as the cocktail-waving “Samantha” of the group proclaimed — you can track your weight! And then they all made fun of Didi for her cheesecake habit. Bad, fat Didi. Put the fork down and pick up a Galaxy S4.
Fujitsu Floral Kiss
And then there was the time that Fujitsu provided a solution for a problem that never existed by creating Floral Kiss
perfume laptops. A laptop for women, by women. Because ladies know what other ladies want. Daily horoscopes! Scrapbooking! Patronisation! It even came in colours you women could understand — like feminine pink, elegant white and luxury brown. Luxury brown. Luxury. Brown. The colour of faeces — the daintiest of faeces.
But it’s not just the core laptop women would want, it came with accessories and delicate extras. Like a custom-made “agete” case, zirconia accoutrement, and “an elegant and refined gradiation with gold trim.” The latch was even specially designed to be opened easily by those with long fingernails. You know, lady nails. Coke fiend nails, also — but mostly lady nails.
Not every tech company infantilises, marginalises or condescends to women. Plenty don’t. Of course, nearly all of them also objectify and hypersexualise women — hello, booth babes! — and turn them into offensive marketing ploys in and of themselves, but that’s a whole other bag of misogynist worms. For now, it’s enough to point out that as recently as yesterday the tech industry is treating women like little girls. Or, more accurately, some ex-frat guy’s vision of what a little girl should be.