During this year’s Super Bowl, millions of us watched the Ravens narrowly defeat the 49ers. We also tuned in for a stream of multi-million dollar commercial breaks, including a Godaddy.com segment featuring racecar driver Danica Patrick piloting a private plane. This year’s series of Go Daddy commercials (decidedly some of the tamest in the company’s history) have sparked widespread criticism for highlighting only men as savvy entrepreneurs, while women were featured as silent, domestic, and decidedly not entrepreneurial. In particular, people in the twitterverse were pretty unnerved. And thanks to a recently contrived hashtag, they were able to take matters into their own hands (or tweets, as the case may be).
Hashtag #NotBuyingIt was used thousands of times during the Super Bowl to call out the sexism of many of the game’s commercials. But the activism hasn’t stopped there. Now the people behind the hashtag are in the process of creating the #NotBuyingIt app to counter sexist advertising and ignite a bigger discussion about offensive marketing.
What’s the Deal?
MissRepresentation, an advocacy campaign aimed at empowering individuals to challenge sexist media, is currently fundraising for their mobile app, #NotBuyingIt. The organization, (known for the 2011 documentary Miss Representation) has teamed up with Emer.ge — an online resource that focuses on body image. The organizations’ shared mission: to “fight sexist and damaging media and celebrate the positive.” As of this morning, #NotBuyingIt’s page on Indigogo — an online fundraising platform — shows the campaign has raised nearly all of its $20,000 goal (with 35 days to go).
The app will allow users to photograph, map, and share ads that objectify women. Thousands of people have already begun to challenge brands, including big names such as Hallmark and Amazon, on the offending company’s Twitter pages via the hashtag #NotBuyingIt. The app would only further the mission to increase awareness of gender misrepresentations and sexual objectification in the name of selling a product or idea.
The proposed app will allow users to upload photos of sexist media they’ve seen on billboards, in magazines, in storefronts, and virtually anywhere else. Those with the app will be able to scroll through the uploaded images, and then it’s time to get social. With the click of a button, an individual can send #NotBuyingIt tweets to companies caught promoting sexist images and messages. Tweeting at companies isn’t exactly the most innovative feature, but the app will also incorporate GPS technology to pinpoint hotspots for less-than-PC advertising. A visual scoreboard will also keep track of products and how they rank on a scale of sexism, according to the #NotBuyingIt community.
The people behind the app estimate they’ll need $26,000 to develop the #NotBuyingIt mobile app (The app received a $6,000 pledge from the Zehner Family Foundation before the Indigogo campaign began). About 90 percent of the funds will go to the developers for the design and creation of the app; the rest will go toward marketing.
Why It Matters
This app is less about fancy technological capabilities and so much more about media awareness and getting voices heard on a larger scale. For better or (sometimes) for worse, the way the media portrays women affects how we think about gender roles in society. No doubt, this can impact the health and happiness of both women and the societies they inhabit. Authorities have started to acknowledge this link when it comes to body image, as evidenced in part by Israel's ban on underweight super models, passed earlier this year. One concern is that people will view these portrayals as a standard to aspire to, even though they may not necessarily reflect healthy habits or relationships.
Since the #NotBuyingIt hashtag was created, some companies have openly addressed complaints and made significant changes to their products or the products they sell. Hallmark, for example, removed a sexist greeting card in under 24 hours after an image of the card was posted along with the #NotBuyingIt hashtag. Halloween costume seller Spirit changed the way it markets girls’ costumes, which had previously been both objectifying and seriously creepy (as evidenced by the tagline, “You are all grown up now, so why not find out if big boys like to play with dolls?!”). As for the Super Bowl commercials? While there’s no taking back the ads that ran during the highly viewed game, Go Daddy alone received over 7,000 tweets challenging the way it relied on shallow gender stereotypes.
These examples are just three of many which demonstrate the power of collaborative actions by ordinary people. While mainstream media choices have generally been up to individual companies’ own discretion, an app like this has the ability to impact and actually change what ads look like and the messages they impart.
Have you used the #NotBuyingIt hashtag? Would you use the #NotBuyingIt app? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet the author @nicmdermott.
Photo (bottom): #NotBuyingIt