Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy S4 smartphone last night in New York has been marred by its rather old-fashioned ideas about the interaction between women and technology. CNET editor Molly Wood called it “shockingly sexist” and we tend to agree. But earlier this week, at its Africa Forum in Cape Town, Samsung was guilty of even more stereotyping and tawdry marketing tactics.
It demoed a range of fridges with bikini-clad dancers handing out water bottles and launched a range of ‘Wobble’ washing machines complete with the same barely pubescent dancers shaking their stuff in swimsuits. As far as we can tell, women love Samsung products and are some of the main users of Galaxy phones and their like, and the company has some great ideas for alleviating the problems of women in poor, rural areas. so why would the company go out of its way to alienate us?
The same feelings motivated Samantha Perry, one of South Africa’s most experienced technology journalists, to write the following open letter to the company.
As a nearly-forty year old woman I guess I’ve gained a sense of my place in the world, by now. And heaven forbid, if your recent launches are anything to go by, that place should be anywhere but the bedroom, the kitchen, or the shopping mall.
Heaven forbid I, as a woman with 15 years experience covering the tech sector, should have any place at one of your launches as anything other than (frequently half-naked) eye candy.
It would be entirely too much to ask that when you planned your recent Africa Forum you considered NOT using scantily clad beauties to help launch your (wait for it) new fridge. I mean let’s face it, most of your target market for that sort of product is female. And women are totally into that, oh, no, actually, that’s not us, that’s 13-year old boys.
Then you launched the Samsung S IV, and what exactly where all those (admittedly dressed) ladies doing on stage? Oohing, aahing, cooing about their weight, shopping, cooking, and men.
Dear Samsung, congratulations on alienating a substantial portion of your target market, and I don’t just mean us prissy journalists with no sense of humour or fun either. It may have escaped your attention but us dearest, little darlings have salaries, and budgets, and we buy fridges, and tvs and smartphones (once our husband has told us what to buy, oh, no, wait, that was 1950). Fifty percent of products marketed to men are purchased by women, who, incidentally, contribute $7 trillion to consumer and business spending in the US. And you, dearest Samsung, are doing a fabulous job of alienating every one of those dollars.
Thank you, Samsung, for putting us in our place. Because we now know your place is not in our handbags, our bedrooms, our lounges, our kitchens or our shopping lists.
Humbly yours, from the kitchen,
Samantha Perry (@samanthaperry)