Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

This footwear brand has been put on blast for ‘using feminism to sell stilettos’

ad.jpg

Picture the scene: we’re in Copenhagen, Denmark, sometime in late 2016. In a glassy office block, a group of advertising executives are spitballing ideas for a new shoe campaign.

“Come on, people,” says the head honcho, who for the purposes of this hypothetical exercise we shall call Emil. “We need a hook for this thing. What’s hot right now? What are modern women with lots of disposable income really into? How can we flog stilettos in a way that feels fresh, exciting, #relevant?”

There’s a silence. Then one man raises his hand. “Well,” he says, tentatively. “I’ve heard a lot of women talking about feminism recently.”

Everyone looks at him. He ploughs on. “I was reading the other day that women don’t get equal pay for equal work anywhere in the world, not even in supposedly egalitarian Denmark. Isn’t that crazy?”

Emil strides to the window and gazes out over the red roofs of Copenhagen, a manic glint in his eye. “You know what?” he murmurs. “I think you might be on to something.”

Names, characters, places and incidents in the above scene are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual persons, events or locales is entirely coincidental. However, we think that something similar might – just might – have happened to lead to the latest advertising campaign from Scandinavian footwear brand Bianco.

bianco

The decidedly bizarre #WomenNeedMore campaign was launched to promote Bianco’s SS17 shoe collection. But the short film that accompanies it – in which women are shown throwing tantrums and physically abusing their male colleagues – has come under fire for trivialising, and seemingly attempting to capitalise on, the fight for gender equality.


Read more: What happened when the women of Stylist walked out of work for #EqualPayDay?


The star of the commercial is a glamorous French woman who appears to be standing in a shadowy stairwell.

“Listen up,” she intones, smizing into the camera. “There’s still not equal pay for equal work anywhere in the world. And it seems most women are not even angry about it.”

Er. Most women? Is that really accurate? We were under the impression that quite a lot of women were pissed off about the gender pay gap, actually. But anyway.

“From now on, equal pay is no longer enough,” Shadowy French Lady continues. “Because women need more.”


Read more: The expert guide to mastering awkward money talks at work


Well, that’s fair enough, you might think. In the UK, the gender pay gap currently stands at 13.9%, according to figures by the Fawcett Society, while a further ethnic gender pay gap exists between white women and women of colour. If we want those structural inequalities to be eliminated, women will need to be paid more.

Shadowy French Lady, however, has a novel reason for why women deserve a pay rise.

bianco

“Our haircuts are more expensive,” she explains. “Our underwear is ridiculously more expensive. It’s simply more expensive to be a woman than to be a man!

“Should we seriously get paid less than someone who applies body lotion to his face?” this font of feminist wisdom continues, in the manner of a barrister delivering their closing statement in court.

“He doesn’t need a new outfit for every occasion. He doesn’t even know that the shoes make the outfit!”

Of course. That’s why the fight for equal pay for equal work is important. Because we’re duty-bound as women to spend vast amounts of money on shoes and knickers and blow-dries and other nice girly things. And men don’t deserve money because they’re all kind of dumb and none of them are interested in fashion, which is the only thing worth spending money on anyway. Of course.

bianco

“Fashion is expressing yourself,” concludes Shadowy French Lady. “And what every stylish woman is expressing is that equal pay is not enough.”

To buy shoes. Equal pay is not enough, because we need to buy shoes. Preferably shoes from Bianco’s SS17 campaign. Is the message sinking in yet?


Read more: Feminism lite: is the women’s movement becoming all brand and no substance?


A little over a week after the misguided ad was uploaded to YouTube, users’ down votes outnumbered up votes by more than 1,700 to 130. And for once, feminists and men’s rights activists were united in condemnation – albeit for different reasons.

“I KNEW IT ALL ALONG!” wrote YouTube user ‘SUPREME EMPEROR MITTENS’. “FEMINISM IS INDEED A FEMALE SUPREMACY MOVEMENT!!!”

bianco

On Facebook, Laura Line offered a more measured analysis. “A lot of women are angry about it, but funnily enough not because we want to buy more shoes,” she wrote. “Isn’t it great when capitalism attempts to cash in on feminism? What a load of bullshit.”

“I’ve never seen such a sexist, offensive ad that abuses and misinterprets feminism,” echoed Josephine Turms.

On Twitter, meanwhile, Danish user Kirsten M. Ebbesen wrote: “Bianco creates attention for itself with an attempt to debate equality… and sell a few pairs of stilettos while they’re at it.”

According to Danish newspaper The Local, Bianco are now insisting that the commercial is “satirical”.

Related

feminism.jpg

“End branded feminism: it's a bloodletting of the movement”

demi lovato taylor swift 2009.jpg

Demi Lovato to Taylor Swift: “Don’t brand yourself a feminist”

bey.jpg

'Who has the right to talk about feminism?'

Comments

More

Government slammed for “cop out” response to dress code laws

Your employer can demand you wear heels to work

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Apr 2017

This Primark item is going for over double its original price on eBay

Do you own the must-have high street number?

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Apr 2017

Balenciaga is selling a £1,670 version of the big blue Ikea bag

The designer brand isn’t the first to take style inspiration from carrier bags.

by Moya Crockett
20 Apr 2017

Calvin Klein champions age diversity in latest underwear ad

It features women aged 18 to 73

by Hayley Spencer
19 Apr 2017

This chic River Island blouse has taken Instagram by storm

Social media users are absolutely obsessed with this high street number

by Kayleigh Dray
19 Apr 2017

The surprising thing about the average cost of a wedding dress in 2017

by Amy Swales
18 Apr 2017

Unicorn trainers are happening - don't try and fight it

You know someone who will want these

by Anna Pollitt
18 Apr 2017

Why this model won't stop sharing cellulite photos on Instagram

And she has an incredibly important reason for it, too

by Kayleigh Dray
13 Apr 2017

Hillary Clinton models kickass shoes designed for her by Katy Perry

See the politician wearing a pair of "The Hillary" heels

by Sarah Biddlecombe
12 Apr 2017

Daily outfit inspiration with our look at the best dressed A-listers

Casual dressing ideas from stylish celebrities

11 Apr 2017