Last night I tweeted about the following Best Buy ad, which first aired during the Super Bowl:
Watched it? Okay, good. The ad features a series of inventors, mostly of things related to smart phones, and they’re all men. I tweeted the following:
Mostly people retweeted without comment, but at least two people said, they’re just aiming at their target market: men. Okay. I get that. I also get that it is actually hard to find a slew of women directly responsible for something smart-phone related that everyone’s heard of. Though there is a list of some things here. But here’s the thing, the commercial is a) airing during a show I am watching, so clearly men can’t be their only target audience; and b) a commercial isn’t just a commercial. So, about a). I have written about a couple of hilariously bad experiences at Best Buy before. I go into Best Buy all the time and usually walk out empty handed. The only thing I’ll say is their stores = their commercial, all guys all the time. Demographics are working against them. More than 50% of the population are women and many of them make more money than their spouses and/or have no spouses. And they like their technology. Just sayin’. It would be good business sense to at least try to appeal to women.
About b). Here’s where my having my Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition pays off, though I think a good couple of classes would be equally useful. Lesson one in Rhetoric is that everything sends a message. That Best Buy commercial isn’t just trying to sell me a smart phone. It’s also telling me that men do the inventing, men like tech, and men buy tech. Women, shown at the end, sell the tech. Honestly, it’s one step above booth babes. Is it sexist? Not blatantly, no. And Best Buy certainly has no obligation to attract women into the tech industry. But they’re certainly not helping. And by not helping, they may also be hurting their own bottom line.