“The Droid is not a princess.”

Now don’t get me wrong, we’ve complained plenty about how some companies like to market their tech products to women by feminizing the shit out of them. And oh, how I do hate princess culture. But really, dude?

Girl things are dainty and suck! Boy stuff is tough and rocks! I mean, come on – the last line in the ad is, “A phone that trades ‘hairdo’ for ‘can do.’”
Approximate transcript after the jump.
h/t to Thanassi.


Should a phone be pretty? Should it be a tiara-wearing, digitally clueless beauty pageant queen?
Or should it be fast? Racehorse duct-taped to a scud fast?
We say the latter. So we built the phone that does. Does rip through the web like a circular saw on a ripe banana.
Is it a precious porcelain figurine of a phone? In truth? No. It’s not a princess; it’s a robot.
A phone that trades “hairdo” for “can do.”

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35 Comments

  1. Naama
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Would the ad be saved if at the end, it showed a tough, gritty, and capable woman using the phone? Might be better.

  2. cattrack2
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Pot meet kettle. This commercial critiques beauty pageants in the very same way that we do on this site every time the subject comes up. They aren’t critiquing, say, Hillary Clinton, they’re critiquing Carrie Prejean! This is definitely not aimed at women generally, its aimed at the status symbol that the iPhone has become. We can’t very well criticize someone else for saying the very same things we do. We should be happy they’re calling beauty pageants for what they are.

  3. Femgineer
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I don’t consider scud missiles and robots to be boy things. But maybe that’s because I’m an engineer…

  4. Jamie
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    WHAT?! I am a girl, and I have an android phone (I have since the TMobile MyTouch came out)!!! Granted, I’m not a ‘princess’ by any means, but I am a fashionista feminist, goddammit! And just because I like to look good doesn’t mean I can’t kick the ass out of my business meeting with my Droid phone, too. This is just irritating – thank you, stereotypes. Grrrrr…..

  5. DeafBrownTrash
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    that’s definitely a very interesting perception, but… the commercial is a clear attack on feminity while praising masculinity.

  6. Sloppy Sandwich
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    “The Droid is not a princess.”
    Well the little fellow can dream, can’t he?
    http://jessasketch.deviantart.com/art/Happy-Halloween-102057176

  7. Nicole
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Cattrack2, Vanessa isn’t complaining because this commercial demonizes beauty pageants. This is what the commercial suggests:
    -A beauty queen/princess can’t also be a tough-as-nails badass.
    -A beauty queen is a clueless idiot who is actually stupider than a robot, which isn’t even a real person.
    That sucks, and nowhere on this site have I ever seen the editors suggest that beautiful women are clueless morons. The critiques of beauty pageants on this website focus on the priorities inherent in judging women solely on their beauty. This commerical enforces the stereotype that “pretty” and “fast-working/intelligent” are incompatible concepts, and that is what Vanessa is criticizing; she’s not defending the institution of beauy pageants, but simply pointing out a flaw in common perceptions of beauty. “Clueless beauty pageant queen” is a tired stereoptype and that line should be criticized for its assumptions, and it’s okay to stand up for the individual women who choose to partake in beauty pageants even if you disagree strongly with the reason those pageants exist in the first place.

  8. sawdust
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I have to disagree. To me, the ad feels like it’s making fun of women, even if it’s the stereotypical woman (they’re the only kind in the ad!) And why does the mannequin deserve to get stuff thrown at it? Because it looks girly.
    I just can’t see this commercial as a critique. It just relies on the idea that feminine characteristics (even if they’re not realistic) are inferior to masculine ones. They could make fun of the status symbol of the iPhone without it being gendered.

  9. uberhausfrau
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    and id rather see a commercial of a woman using a phone’s reflective surface to put on make up than, say, use it to look up a woman’s skirt or check out a woman’s ass while you’re pretending to pay attention to the woman friend/girlfriend you are sitting with.

  10. swingandswirl.livejournal.com
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    This ad bugs me on so many levels. One because it says that pretty women are clueless airheads, and two because apparently phones (and women) can either care about fashion or be intelligent, competent individuals, not both. And let’s not even get into the robots/princess debate…
    Well, fuck that noise. *goes back to reading National Geographic and New Scientist in between checking style blogs on her iTouch*
    -Tammy

  11. Jen
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    What irritates me about it is that they feel the need to bring in gender stereotypes to illustrate that their product is more capable than the iPhone. Granted, they don’t spell out that Droid > iPhone = Strong Guy > Ditzy Pretty Girl, but the implication is pretty loud and clear. At least to me.
    I’m also not really cool with the idea of stereotyping pageant queens as dumb. Prejean herself may not be the brightest bulb, but I’m a little tired of the trope that if a woman is conventionally beautiful and pays attention to her appearance, she must be a dunce.
    That said, I *am* glad that they’re not marketing a pinked-up, berhinestoned edition for teh wimmenz. (Yet.)

  12. cattrack2
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I hear you Nicole, but they aren’t calling out “beautiful women”, they’re calling out “beauty pageants”…they never use the word “beautiful women”; they say, “beauty pageant”.
    Sometimes we can get upset when “outsiders” make the very same charges we do…eg, as a POC I have to catch myself sometimes when, say, a white male criticizes something about POC culture I may have criticized myself…Sometimes we fall on old habits & circle the wagons without seriously questioning our response. That’s all I’m sayin.

  13. MLEmac28
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    That commercial is a total fail. Aside from the rampant sexism, it doesn’t actually talk about what the phone can do. It makes hyperbolic comparisons to a racehorse duct taped to a rocket and shows other manly things. How much do you want to bet the phone functions like a paperweight unless you have a PhD in computer science and know how to program it?
    Unless it has an app which makes fart noises, it doesn’t beat the iphone in terms of awesomeness. :D

  14. Gary LaPointe
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Tammy, that’s probably my big smile for the day!
    Gary http://GarySaid.com/

  15. NapoleonInRags
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    That made my day.

  16. SP
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Must argue – there’s a woman at the beginning, along with two men, looking at the phone, and the mannequins they’re throwing things at (presumably because they’re too pretty) are male.
    This ad is disparaging ditzy princesses (and beauty queens – I can understand the mass fail inherent in that), but it is certainly not saying things female are inferior and things male are superior. Such an interpretation may be drawn from the assumption that metal, duct tape, gears, etc., are “male,” but this is just as sexist as assuming housework, child-rearing, and cooking are “female.” As a female theatre techie, I identify with duct tape, too. Assuming that if they’re talking about SCUD missiles, they MUST be talking about men is sexist.
    And I think the ire at gender binary is better directed at the recently-linked Ketel One ad (a time when men blah blah blah); this ad does not suggest to me that women can’t participate in a world of metal, duct tape, and SCUD missiles. Unfortunately, the “princess” attitude/beauty/thing doesn’t have a male counterpart for pretty-but-useless; excepting, maybe, the recent term “metrosexual” – but that may or may not be represented by the pretty mannequins – it’s unclear, and that’s another criticism of the ad, for sure.

  17. Sarah the Kabocha
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    This ad really bothers me because it destroys the feminized, domestic objects pretty violently. The women at the beginning are burned out of the picture, and other traditionally feminine objects are crushed and exploded! This ad made me feel unsafe. And it’s just a phone.

  18. rustyspoons
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I don’t see this as critiquing femininity, just the narrow expectations of femininity that are all the same stuff that annoys me. Though it would have been nice if they had a female narrative voiceover decrying this stuff.

  19. Kelbesque
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m not entirely sure why an app that makes fart noises is the standard of awesomeness for the phone–somebody writings apps for an Android phone could easily produce that just as well as somebody writing apps for the iPhone. I’d be surprised if somebody hadn’t already, since the development platform for Android is more accessible than for the iPhone.
    More to the point, I think shunting aside the sexism to talk about the hyperbole is major fail in and of itself. Aside from the fact that dramatic, pumped hyperbole is the stuff of a lot of marketing in general–not just marketing over flaws–who cares?
    If I try to sell a burger by claiming that there’s so much meat in it that you’ll think you were eating three whole cows at the same time with each bite, whatever. It’s ridiculous, but it’s not terribly problematic unless you’re PETA, in which case you’ve got bigger problems.
    If I try to sell a burger by claiming it’s the manliest thing since hunting bears that are wielding chainsaws, and that it’s far too much for a little fairy man or a pretty, fragile girl to handle, that’s the massive fail. Selling with glitz instead of substance is vastly meh by comparison.

  20. Kelbesque
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    In an ad directed at the mainstream, assuming that when they use imagery that is associated with males or females in the mainstream is not sexism, it’s understanding that mainstream culture makes assignments to these things and this marketing plays to those assignments, especially when the few actual human elements it refers to are exclusively female.
    If you want to pick out the mannequins, then not only is it sexist, it’s hetero-normative too. Those model male mannequins are far too pretty; they aren’t manly enough.
    This commercial isn’t executed in a social vacuum, it uses well-accepted masculine imagery narrated by a masculine voice to bash through well-accepted feminine imagery using depictions of women and “effeminate” male mannequins. That is valid inference, not strict assumption.

  21. mandoir
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    How much do you want to bet the phone functions like a paperweight unless you have a PhD in computer science and know how to program it?
    Unless it has an app which makes fart noises, it doesn’t beat the iphone in terms of awesomeness. :D

    It’s actually probably the best iPhone competitor on the market right now. You’re right to deem the ad useless for not actually promoting the phone’s capabilities, but please don’t be another one of those people who, without knowing anything about [insert Apple product competitor] assume it sucks.
    Besides, the all-singing all-dancing iPhone will only be made better with legitimate competition.
    Sorry for the derail.

  22. BruceJ
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Well, aside from the sexist “pretty isn’t useful” concept, this is also total fail as advertising, too.
    Compare and contrast to “There’s an App for that…” series by Apple.
    Apple’s even done som ad-kido on Verison by showing how you can look up a movie time, make a dinner reservation and send a map, all while on the phone to someone, countering a previous commercial about how the ‘Droid was all ‘multitasking and the other guy couldn’t.’
    So far all we know about the Droid is that it’s proud that it’s got pinyty sharp edges and that it is apparently parts of bombs that were dropped all over.
    I understand they’re trying for an agressive stance against Apple, but it’s degenerated into ‘Fratboy’ almost immediately.
    Apparently the only market they want are 17 year old boys.

  23. MLEmac28
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    If the droid has apps, this is the first I’m hearing of it. Every commercial I’ve seen is about how manly it is, and they often show the iphone as the girly alternative.
    I don’t like the iphone because it’s apple, and I don’t assume every competetor to apple sucks. I got an iphone because it is very user friendly and I can buy apps to make it do some awesome things (like pinpoint where I parked my car in a massive lot and then direct me back to it like a compass). I have a difficult time thinking up things to make it better for the way I use it. Unless the droid has even better usability, I will consider it inferior for the average person. If it is more user friendly or customizable than the iphone, why don’t they talk about that?
    The fact that the droid commercials talk about nothing but its manliness makes me think that they don’t have enough actual positive attributes to say.

  24. MLEmac28
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    FYI, I was joking about the fart noises.
    I like the iphone because it is customizable and user friendly. If the Droid is more so, they should talk about it in the commercial.

  25. mandoir
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I don’t disagree that this particular ad is a complete fail, as I mentioned before. But this is just one (bad) ad, and there have been several other Droid ads that talk about the apps for the phone and present other talking points about why it’s potentially a good counterpoint to the iPhone.
    I don’t know what kind of user tech level you are or how much commercial media you consume in the average day, but plenty of discussion has occurred over the usefulness of the Droid and how it compares to the iPhone. That you haven’t been exposed to it and have apparently seen only this commercial (or others that similarly suck? I don’t know, this is the first time that I have seen this bad commercial; many others have been quite useful) is probably bad on the part of the ad agency that they’re not reaching your demographic.
    I’m sorry for picking on you, but the perceived non-objectivity here rubs me the wrong way. For instance, you keep talking about the “user friendliness” of the iPhone making it the best phone for the average user. However, “user friendliness” means different things to different people – for me, the iPhone could cook me dinner in under 60 seconds but I still wouldn’t be interested because I like having a tactile keyboard. So for me, a “user friendly” phone would have to have a real keyboard in addition to the touchscreen (which the Droid does.)
    I see lots of bad ads every day, but my reaction isn’t immediately “That product must suck”; rather it’s usually more along the lines of “That was a bad ad.” And frankly, I think taking the next leap and assuming product inferiority usually indicates allegiance to a competitor product; accordingly you’ve already revealed your preference for the iPhone. That’s my only point, really – it’s one thing to critically dissect advertisements but another entirely to assume product merit as corollary to advertisement merit.

  26. octavia
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    This is why I hate this commercial. It’s ridiculous and distracting. There ARE other droid commercials that show the apps etc. A lot of the droid apps are FREE and unlike with the iphone, the apps are not as “filtered.” Apps get rejected from the iphone for being “offensive” or competing with apple or other unknown reasons. Like someone else said, the droid/google phones are pretty open as far as people being able to make software for them. I don’t know about the newer droids but the previous google phone from TMobile was a lot like the iphone, just with less restrictions. I love it. I don’t love this commercial which was not well done at all.
    And finally, a comic: http://xkcd.com/662/

  27. SP
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I do understand that these images stand for these things in the mainstream, and that advertising is under no circumstances executed in a vacuum. However, outrage over the positively-portrayed traditionally masculine images and negatively-portrayed feminine images, in my opinion, perpetuates the cycle and doesn’t allow for those images to be portrayed non-traditionally.
    If it had portrayed outright things like women using duct tape and bombs, I know several feminists who would have argued that they were saying women just want to be more like men (or *should* be more like men). Not all feminists believe this, but the fact that it can be construed as such is evident. And when ads show positively-portrayed traditionally feminine images and negatively-portrayed feminine issues, we get the other extreme, and everything is pink and fluffy. Of course, there are traditionally feminine things that are “tough” (um…motherhood?), so again, another place that the advertisers failed – there could be more of these types of images.
    And while it would be great to have gender-neutral advertising, how would we show things to have any traits without people assuming they line up with a traditional gender? Tough things like metal and duct tape (again, just using the examples from the commercial) don’t *have* to represent the masculine, and the sooner we change our (and others’) perspectives of this, the faster we can de-gender images like this, which I think is better than the alternative: removing all gender-typed images from advertising (what would be left?).

  28. supremepizza
    Posted December 5, 2009 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    Have you ever noticed the commercials for Gillette Mach 3 razors? They spend about 3 seconds showing shaving, and then 27 seconds showing fighter jets streak across the skies. It has nothing to do with shaving, and everything to do with fighters. You might think that its a massive fail, but since it was introduced its been the #1 razor–by a country mile. When it comes to advertising, its generally not what you say, but how you say it. Oftentimes you’re selling attitude. I’m a crackberry head myself, and frankly this is the only ad campaign that’s ever made me think twice about switching.

  29. SarahSimone
    Posted December 5, 2009 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I think if it showed more women using the phone, and possibly if it had a female voice instead of a man who I am pretty sure was Dawson Leary, it would have been ok. It could come across as “don’t be taken in by a product just because it’s pink and bejeweled, use our smarter, superior product that doesn’t pander to stereotypes instead” but instead it was just like “DESTROY ALL THINGS GIRLY BURP MANLY GRUNT!”

  30. ohmayleesa
    Posted December 5, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I thought that transcript was a joke until I actually watched the commercial.

  31. Gopher
    Posted December 5, 2009 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    And who does beauty pageants? Not many men for sure nor is it associated with men so might as well be womens pageants.

  32. Gopher
    Posted December 5, 2009 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Exactly. Excellent point! They want to make their phone look better so they try and associate it with more masculine associations. Its using the idea that anything thats feminine is inferior to anything thats masculine.

  33. Gopher
    Posted December 5, 2009 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Def! ;)

  34. Gopher
    Posted December 6, 2009 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    They said beauty pageant QUEEN so its obvious they only meant females along with displaying only female dolls dressed in a pageant to further emphasize the point. What commercial were you watching?

  35. robin.g
    Posted December 6, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I dunno, folks… we hate beauty pageants and princess culture and then we are upset with this ad because it makes feminine things seem “not tough?” I think they pretty carefully managed not to say “feminine women are not tough” just sparkly pretty princess stuff is passe and women need a phone that does things. Much ado, IMO.

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