Advertisement: sexist or harmless sales pitch

Every day, I pass several posters advertising dances a.k.a. fetes plastered on walls in public places throughout Barbados and I restrain myself from starting a monologue beginning with “years ago …”  It is not the bright colours or the bold writing that draw persons to examine these posters rather it is the ‘half naked’ women, some bent in the 6:30 position (as in the clock hands) demonstrating the popular dance featured at many fetes.

I recall silently the period when the women’s movement in Barbados agitated for an end to this type of advertisement terming it an exploitation of women. That was before digital technology made production of these advertisements easy as well as accessible to almost everyone. Since then, there has also been a new boldness among people and it seems a quiet women’s movement.

Not much is therefore said about these posters that stand on the brink of the pornography line requiring only a feather touch to push them into the restricted area. In fact, I thought the feminists in this country were ignoring them.  But today I’ve noticed a Facebook entry from Red Code for justice regarding a Bank Breweries Barbados advertisement, which showed a young woman in a suggestive position with a beer in her hand.

Red Code captioned it:

Sexist Caribbean ads: Barbados’ Banks beer rolls out ‘My Brown Ting, My Banks’ ad. Email us at with any other sexist or racist Caribbean ads you come across. Help us educate Caribbean companies that women aren’t things!

What about the women, don’t they need education as well? Are they devoid of responsibility?? What about the dance ads, I ask myself. Do they differ enough from those of companiesto merit a dissimilar approach? Why campaign against one and not the other? Is it fair to do so?

I was told – not by Red Code – that the issue relates to the term “my brown Ting” rather than dress or pose, since the model is properly clad and the pose is merely artistic and tasteful. Therefore, my friend said, the ads are dissimilar and my questions are based on a false premise. But I still ask, isn’t it the same thought process that fuels the decision to pose in both these scenarios?

Red Code promised “to collect some images from all across the region, write an article and post it on the social media networks.” I look forward to this as it should educate many people as well as help answer some of my questions and give clarity to the central reason for flagging the ad.

I believe many women share Ashantia Howard’s view who in a Facebook comment gave me impression that the Banks ad is insignificant compared with other issues facing women and should be left alone. She suggested that instead of bothering about a beer commercial, Red Code should campaign for real issues affecting women, such as the right to choose and abortion rights. It will be worthy while to see how the promised article will influence opinions such as Howard’s.

Clearly, the female models are not forced into these ads (such as the Bank’s one) and may not get Red Code’s point. I have noticed that while women are photographed wearing the shortest, tightest, most revealing outfits they can squeeze their bodies into, the male models have more of their bodies under cover. So choice plays a big part.

Is the message which gender groups are advocating catching on? Or are they preaching to an inner circle? What do you think? Is it a woman’s choice to pose or not to pose? Why bother a company that like a fete holder/sponsor is trying to sell his product using the best tools available? Tell me!

Related articles:

This one from Brazil.


3 thoughts on “Advertisement: sexist or harmless sales pitch

  1. Sex sells, and the companies know this. It is the responsibility of the models who pose, and the general public to openly say they disagree with these ads. If people stand by and complain but don’t take any type of action, to me it is just a waste of time because nothing will happen.

    I once helped to get a poster advertising perfume removed from the public by writing to the Advertising Agency because I didn’t feel that a woman needed to be completely naked, lying with her legs apart so that you could see a side view of her whole body. These large ads were on our streets on bill-boards at bus-stops, on walls etc. I also thought it was not appropriate for young children to see it. T
    I wasn’t the only one who formally complained and the ads had to be taken down from London.

    People really need to act, as things will not get better but much worse, and by then it may be too late to pull it all back together again.

  2. It would help if women got on board and quit posing at 6:30 – American ads and TV is all about selling product by selling sex – lots of cleavage and tight clothing and heels that are deforming women’s feet – it’s so extreme it’s hard to find an average looking woman in the American media – I love the British shows that show real people and sell a great story without the need to rely on cleavage for ratings.

    • I always note that american movies use fewer older women than english ones. USA perhaps focus more on consumerism and materialism than the English. Perhaps that is why the English is stereotyped as prudish and the US as trendy. I am not sure, just thinking aloud.

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