Advertising that degrades women no longer works, needs to stop
March 23, 2017
Skol, a Brazilian beer brand, recently acknowledged its past of using advertisements that objectify women. This refreshing take is something that more advertisers should be doing.
The sexual objectification of women is prevalent in advertisements everywhere, and research shows that beer companies have been particularly guilty of it. According to the American Psychological Association, one study found that almost half of the beer commercials analyzed featured a camera shot of a woman’s chest. When women were present in the advertisements, they were often in swimwear or leisure clothes, while the men were dressed for work. Skol’s old advertisements were constant offenders of this.
In a video released on March 13, Skol announced that it had hired six female illustrators to redesign some of its old advertisements. The old advertisements are particularly graphic, often showing tanned, blonde women with realistically unattainable bodies in bikinis or other revealing clothing and doing things like serving beer or bending over. This campaign, titled “Reposter,” uses the old advertisements as the base for new, more empowering posters.
For example, an old Skol poster shows a bikini-clad woman on a beach, standing with her back to the camera with a circle missing from her skirt over her behind. Through the Reposter project, she becomes a purple-haired woman with a sleeve tattoo, wearing yellow, high-waisted shorts that say “My body, my rules” on the back pocket. Other redesigns use the basic elements of the original posters to create more abstract designs.
The Reposter project, according to Skol, is meant to “keep the past in the past,” but what is important about projects like this is that they acknowledged a past of problematic advertising. They own up to it by saying, “This doesn’t represent us anymore.”
This is a step in the right direction, partially because it acknowledges that women are consumers, too. Perhaps that is the motivation behind overhauls like this, trying to appeal to a different demographic because the old demographic (in this case, heterosexual men) is no longer generating a satisfying profit. It’s entirely possible that this is a marketing decision and not a reflection of a shift in values for the company.
Still, changes like this are exciting, and they should continue. We need to move past the notion that “sex sells” everything and instead find new ways to interest consumers. Women are not simply objects to help sell other objects.