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Bic Back in Headlines for Sexist Advertisement

Grant Whittington headshotWords by Grant Whittington
New Activism
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Bic celebrated South Africa’s National Women’s Day with a surprisingly ironic misogynistic advertisement. The pen-manufacturing company posted the ad of a woman, presumably a white-collar worker, smiling with her arms crossed and the words, “Look like a girl. Act like a lady. Think like a man. Work like a boss,” hovering next to her.

The ad, as one can imagine, didn’t sit well with social media users, and Bic South Africa swiftly responded by taking down the ad. But the firestorm had already started. Facebookers had a field day commenting on the post, as the Johannesburg paper the Sunday Times reported.

“Why am I expected to see the world through a masculine lens? Why am I expected to ‘think like a man’ but not expected to ‘act like a man’ on my so-called manly thoughts?” one commenter asked.

This isn’t the first time Bic’s made the news for sexist advertisements. In 2012, the company introduced pink “for her” pens, which were smaller and designed to fit a woman’s hand.

The sexist marketing was met with a lot of criticism -- most notably from Ellen DeGeneres, who made a parody advertisement saying you can use the pen to “write down a grocery list, or even recipes for when you need to feed your man.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCyw3prIWhc

Bic apparently didn't learn its lesson in 2012. After the social media storm hit on the most recent ad, the company swiftly deleted it. Unfortunately it failed in its first attempt at an explanation. Bic said the quotes were taken from a women in business blog and was meant “in the most empowering way possible and in no way derogatory towards women.”

It quickly removed that post as well after the reception failed to satisfy those outraged by the ad. The company then finally wrote an apology post: “Let’s start out by saying we’re incredibly sorry for offending everybody -- that was never our intention, but we completely understand where we’ve gone wrong. This post should never have gone out. The feedback you have given us will help us ensure that something like this will never happen again, and we appreciate that.”

Maybe Bic is influenced by the 1970s advertisements of the “Mad Men” era, but social media commentators feedback proves that won’t fly in this progressive of a day and age.

Image courtesy of Bic/Facebook

Grant Whittington headshotGrant Whittington

Based in Washington, DC, Grant works as a program assistant at SEEP Network, an international development nonprofit. A proud graduate of the University of Maryland, Grant spent four months post-grad living in Armenia where he worked for Habitat for Humanity and the World Food Programme. Grant is passionate about humanitarianism and finding sustainable approaches to international development. He enjoys playing trivia with friends but is still seeking his first victory - he ceaselessly blames his friends lack of preparation.

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