Sexualizing women in skimpy clothes is a typical clothing advertising ploy, but Zappos.com’s new ad campaign is drawing fire for zooming straight ahead and skipping the skimpy clothes.
The new ad campaign for the online shopping giant portrays models — all female — going about their daily activities in the buff. Naked lady hailing a cab, naked jogger, naked model riding a scooter: all wear only shoes and a banner over their private parts that features the campaign’s slogan, “More than shoes!” In each, creepy blurry men oggle the women from the fringes of the photos.
It’s clear what the product is in these ads — and, as the tag line admits, it’s not the shoes. MissRepresentation.org, the online outgrowth of the Sundance award-winning film of the same name that spotlights media objectification of women, has started a Change.org petition calling on Zappos to discontinue their ad campaign on the basis that it sends a litany of bad messages to men and women alike.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, founder of MissRepresentation.org, said, “With advertisements like this, Zappos.com exacerbates an already dangerous situation in American advertising. We are being sold the idea that women and girls should be valued for their bodies, and not for their minds. Not only does this contribute to men seeing women as objects, but women in turn see themselves with diminished potential. It’s a snowball effect that limits all of our possibilities.”
The offending campaign includes an online component, encouraging ad viewers to visit the website to dress the models. The petition points out that this extra feature reduces real live women to the virtual equivalent of dress-up dolls.
The ads were created for Zappos by Mullen ad agency, whose spokesperson tried to head off criticism in a recent New York Times profile by claiming that the campaign features “the shapes and curves of many, many people.” His idea of size diversity? A five-foot tall model who was only photographed sitting down.
The site also pleads innocence by promising equal opportunity objectification in August, when they’ll reveal the first — and it seems, only — ad featuring a nude dude. Sorry, Zappos: what’s bad for the goose is also bad for the gander. In addition, this single, late ad featuring the naked male body suggests a calculated token effort to pretend sexism isn’t an issue.
Zappos.com wants you to know they’re “more than shoes.” MissRepresentation.org wants Zappos to know that women — and men — are more than their bodies, their sexuality, their external beauty. Join MissRepresentation.org in calling on Zappos to pull the plug on their new nudey ad campaign.