Can you explain the text on this sporting goods ad?
September 4, 2014 3:12 PM   Subscribe

I was shopping for sporting goods online when I came across an image on a retailer's website that baffles me. In order to avoid linking to a commercial site, I've rehosted the image here. At the side of the image it says: "Sorry for using a picture of a boy. I promise we'll make up for it." Can someone explain why they're apologizing? More details within.

The retailer sells many different brands of goods for both men and women, but this picture was specifically for North Face's Summit series, which has versions of their jackets for both men and women.

My initial interpretation is that the retailer is assuming I'd prefer to see a woman model the jacket instead of a man, which seems rather sexist. Or maybe vaguely homophobic? The only other possibility I can think of is that maybe it's a stock photo from North Face and for whatever reason they only managed to take photos of a male model in this particular jacket, so the apology was intended when the stock photo was shown in the women's section of websites.

Can anyone explain? I'm genuinely baffled.
posted by bluecore to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I agree with you that it's badly written and unclear. And why "boy" instead of "man"?

Maybe they're acknowledging that women, not just men, can also have jackets that will "impress their friends" and all the rest of their bs blather.
posted by JimN2TAW at 3:17 PM on September 4, 2014

The image and the text are kind of implying that only men do those things, and if the jacket is "for" doing those things, then the jacket isn't for women.
posted by bleep at 3:19 PM on September 4, 2014

To be fair I'm not really up on modern parka etiquette, but historically lime green is not a color option for men. Lime is usually a women's option, next to sky blue and berry.

Is it possibly a women's coat he's wearing?
posted by phunniemee at 3:21 PM on September 4, 2014

Wild guess, but maybe this wasn't supposed to be the final version of the banner, and the photo is a placeholder and/or the "apology" is some sort of inside joke from the designer working on it, but somehow it got put up anyway? (I've worked with sometimes-jokey designers and not-always-observant clients, and I can see something like this happening.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:37 PM on September 4, 2014 [15 favorites]

The guy in the photo is almost certainly a sponsored athlete, not a model if it makes any difference. Although I don't recognize him.
posted by fshgrl at 3:41 PM on September 4, 2014

It seems like they're trying to make a sexist joke that you'd rather see a woman, like in this old ad for Bugle Boy.
posted by Mchelly at 4:26 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's "edgy" ad copy, in the same vein as the larger text.

YMMV whether you are grievously offended by said "edgy" ad copy, find it charming, or just need to buy new sneakers and this is the closest place to your house so whatever.

Either way, it's certainly not placeholder text. I'm also pretty sure he's not modeling a women's jacket. I'm equally sure that it's not an earnest apology.

My take is "we know you'd rather be looking at a chick", but meh. It could also be read as "we know you know women can also impress friends, win paramours, and humble enemies, but this is a picture of a dude so deal with it". I more find it irritating conceptually than on feminist grounds, though "edgy" humor and sporting goods usually goes hand in hand with sexism.
posted by Sara C. at 6:02 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

In marketing or advertising sometimes the creatives make fake images when they're bored. Sometimes those images are accidentally presented as real.
posted by Homer42 at 6:54 PM on September 4, 2014

This is just badly written vague copy. It either mean "sorry for the dude instead of a boffo chick lol" or (more likely I think) it is saying "girlz can do stuff too sorry we r just showing a boy instead plz buy our puffy jackets ladies".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:40 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

My take is "we know you'd rather be looking at a chick",

Super unlikely given the target audience.
posted by fshgrl at 9:39 AM on September 5, 2014

I think Potomac's got it.

With a company as big as North Face (which has a marketing department big/savvy/well-paid enough to pay attention to every fricking detail of every ad), the simplest explanation would be that they think they have identified a market segment that responds positively to such an apology.

As in, "Sorry this instance of an active, cool person happens to feature a dude, of all people... If you fall outside the main target audience (other dudes who wish they were as cool as that dude, or ladies who find that dude attractive, or wish their dudes were as cool as that dude), here's an extra reach (and it's a "reach" because it's in such small type, not the main gist of the ad) extended in the hope that we might be able to convince you outliers that we know how dude-centric this seems, but it's totally not because we apologized. So you'll still buy our jackets, right?"

I don't find this line of reasoning convincing, or even coherent in certain ways. But I'm not the target recipient of the apology.
posted by Rykey at 1:08 AM on September 6, 2014

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