Coke: not misogynist…for now

Twitter users have slammed Pepsi for a recently released iPhone app, labeling it sexist and prompting an apology from the former Britney-faced soft drink manufacturer. Good.

The app provides pick up lines and other relevant information (like vegan restaurant locations) to users, based on the category of girl they are dealing with — “nerd”, “treehugger”, exchange student” etc.

“Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women,” Pepsi said. “We apologise if it’s in bad taste & appreciate your feedback.”

Go Market Capitalism! That’s as democratic as it comes, right?

There are two things I want to say about this:

Firstly, I’m not instinctively offended by the app. Of course stereotypes are lazy and demeaning, though it feels more tedious, than downright offensive in this context. Perhaps it’s the fact that so many kinds women are categorised in the app that it seems that noone in particular is being victimised? Or maybe it’s the fact I reckon you could just as easily write a program like this about men–would that be labelled sexist too? More than anything, this kind of marketing plays to the same audience as portrayals of masculinity in Flight of the Conchords–something I have blogged about in the past–or The Game. Such constructions of men as straight, predatory/pathetic (how ever you read it) and sexless are arguably more oppressive than the rather predictable characterisations of women.

Secondly, consider this.

Pepsi’s “Amp Up Before You Score” app prompted a storm of protest on Twitter, with commenters suggesting people drink Coke instead.

Really? Coke? That’s your idea of boycotting of sexist marketing practices, Twitter? Are you so quick to forget:



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11 responses to “Coke: not misogynist…for now

  1. David

    Ahh yes the hypocrisy of going to Coke when really the entire brand should be boycotted for various evil acts, (ie the alleged kidnap of union leaders in columbia etc etc). My only slight issue with the Coke Zero ad (probably highly bias due to my unfortunate choice of gender) is that Coke Zero as a product is one that was undoubtedly targeted at men. Men weren’t drinking Diet coke as a rule, so Coke being the marketers they are released virtually an identical product primarily targeted at a hole in their consumer base.

    when you think of this ad from that perspective you can see and almost understand the motives for making the ad in this fashion, akin to the Jim Beam girlfriend ads not too long ago. sexist? yes. highly specialised and targeted marketing? a manly and macho yes. so should it be considered that offensive when women weren’t intended to view the ad anyway?

    • catherine

      I’m not sure that something isn’t sexist if the gender in question, oops! isn’t meant to watch it…

      my mistake. next time I shall avert my eyes.

  2. Nicki

    Ugh, I hate that Coke ad – so glad it was pulled.

    Meanwhile, back when I worked in Ye Olde Bookshoppe (hoho, you kids with your “Twitters” and your “Apps”), we sold a heap of guides like this for men which were totally serious. There was one in particular that I found hilarious, it categorised women much like this app., only there were only five categories I believe. Not only were the categories ridiculous (e.g. what a “Hot Girl” is interested in is vastly different to what a “Smart Girl” likes), there was one that was “Mother”. It was amazing, because although all women can easily be grouped into four different types, as soon as they squeeze out some spawn they no longer retain any of the characteristics of their previous category, but instead are only interested in things related to said offspring. AMAZING. I wish I’d bought it now…

  3. Nicky P


    Coke Zero is marked at men. Diet Coke at women.

    Diet Coke has had man-mocking himbo adverts FOR THE LAST 26 YEARS.

    And the Pepsi App looks little more than a male equivalent that you’d find in Cosmopolitan EVERY SINGLE MONTH.

  4. Personally, I think Pepsi’s apology is the most offensive thing.

    Multinational corporations writing like brain-damaged teens is gross.

  5. Bhakthi

    Isaac — tell me about it!

    David and Nick — you are suggesting that men ARE actually that lame? That this kind of marketing works? I am saddened by your cynicism.

    Also, Nick, Diet Coke ads are ridiculous too. Clearly I would not defend them.

  6. Nicky P

    This sort of marketing works, yes.

    I’m not offended by any of it. I think it’s all very tongue-in-cheek, be it the long history of man-mockery (and being patronising to women) or this new woman mockery (and being patronising to men).

    I think it’s all done with a heavy wink wink.

  7. Nicky P

    PS. Call be a pretentious middle-class insufferable liberal arts major, but I think this sort of ironic bigotry is a good thing, and nothing like the Hey Hey It’s Saturday vile none realised non-ironic bigotry.

    A wink and a smile changes everything.

    • andrepeach

      Trying to parse ads put out by MNCs hurts my brain too much…Nick, a wink and a smile does not take away the horribleness of these ads’ sexism, but instead allows us pretentious middle-class insufferable liberal arts majors to enjoy the ad on some meta-ironic ‘look at me Ma, I get it’ kind of way. The ad is still functioning to sell me a carcinogen in a can, no matter which ‘level’ we get it on, and still reinforces sexist stereotypes in those who do get it on the surface level only. If anything, the wink and smile makes it harder for us to effectively criticise the ad.

      PS. (to David) And how does the fact that the ad is aimed at men a justification?! Books like ‘The Game’ are clearly targeted at men, but they still propagate sexist myths. I’ve seen that book directly affect the behaviour of friends and the esteem in which they hold women. Women were certainly never intended to read that book – but it doesn’t change the amount of harm it can cause.

  8. Nicky P

    But the history of cola advertising is undeniably anti-man…..

    I, like Billy Connelly, am a fan of “equal opportunity mocking, when the mock is not based in hate”

  9. Jim

    Awesome! Fucker blogging again…

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