Microsoft advertisement not so nice to females - is it real?
February 28, 2006 11:34 PM   Subscribe

Is this advertisement real? It's a Microsoft ad supposedly shown in a New Zealand CS class, but I can't find any evidence of it elsewhere. I'm pretty pissed if it is.

I came across an email that said this ad was shown as an overhead in the beginning of a CS class at an NZ university. I'm pretty shocked at how Microsoft would disparage women in technology, if it's real, and so I'd like to make sure it's not a well-done fake before I make any claims.

Maybe someone else has seen it in person, or can find out more. I'm coming up empty, which I suppose may be a good thing.
posted by kcm to Computers & Internet (22 answers total)
Response by poster: er, messed up the link.
posted by kcm at 11:34 PM on February 28, 2006

Best answer: Why don't you email Sally Jo and ask her where she got it? I vaguely remember her from Waikato University and ISTR she is a nice and helpful person.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:54 PM on February 28, 2006

Best answer: And/or send an inquiry to the Microsoft New Zealand Press Centre - their e-mail is on that page.
posted by helios at 11:59 PM on February 28, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions - all being done, I believe. I was also looking for indepdenent confirmation or perhaps other examples from this campaign that people may have seen.
posted by kcm at 12:05 AM on March 1, 2006

Googling for the ad's headline (in quotes) brings no results. If it's actually run somewhere, I'd expect to find people talking about it.

Another possible explanation (other than "real" or "fake") is that it could have been something proposed by an ad agency that MS turned down.
posted by winston at 12:15 AM on March 1, 2006

Btw, you write: "would disparage women in technology." That's not exactly how I read it. In this country software is usually heavily discounted for students, and a crude sexism is still par for the course among university students. This is exactly the sort of thing I would expect in an ad aimed at students. I don't think you can tell what that young woman is studying from the ad, and the guy next to her is clearly a nerdy fellow student, not a lecturer. It's still terrible innuendo-laden crap but there isn't a specific CS angle that I see.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:15 AM on March 1, 2006

I doubt that this is a Microsoft ad, in any case. Microsoft ads tend to be extremely conservative, as they've gotten in trouble in the past for things as ridiculous as having a shirtless baby on the windows 95 box. I don't see how they could have gotten past the concept of this ad, much less a complete work.
posted by helios at 12:26 AM on March 1, 2006

I would guess it's real and aimed at students in general.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:52 AM on March 1, 2006

Yeah, I wouldn't want to wake up to her even if she was writing my papers.

Maybe it isn't about the woman. Sexist.
posted by geekyguy at 12:53 AM on March 1, 2006

I've no idea if this is real but I wouldn't be terribly surprised. I (an Australian) have spent 2 weeks in NZ and I was pleasantly surprised at how risque their advertising was, even compared to Australian stuff. They have some famous examples - likely NSFW in the USA yet it was a billboard.
posted by polyglot at 1:24 AM on March 1, 2006

Seriously? You're offended by THAT ad? It's clear that you live in North America then. I've seen ads WAY worse than that over here in Europe, people just worry less about being politically correct. I wouldn't be surprised if NZ was similar.

How is it "disparaging women in technology"? I'd lean more towards "disparaging women in university in general"... Office is hardly aimed at the technology field. Maybe if this was an ad for DevStudio.
posted by antifuse at 1:53 AM on March 1, 2006

Disregarding the notion of sexism, you have to remember it's an advert from a country that isn't the United States, that has subtle but still different cultural values.

In an era when even McDonalds have gone from global to local advertising in the wake of a perceived anti-corporate-American feeling amongst global consumers, having a "one advertising strategy fits all", with all the attendant assumptions about sexual mores and gender rolemodel stereotyping in the society in which the advert appears, doesn't seem to work any more.

Personally (being male) I find it no more offensive than all the eye-candy models being used to advertise computer or speaker hardware. And we do live in an era where someone puts up a craigslist posting trading tech support for sexual favours.
posted by badlydubbedboy at 3:07 AM on March 1, 2006

Ditto the last few comments. In the helpful spirit of AskMe, I'd advise against your idea of "making any claims," whatever that means. If you try starting a minor ruckus over an ad like that, you won't like what happens.
posted by cribcage at 4:42 AM on March 1, 2006

Mod note: link fixed, a few comments removed, please try to answer the question or take it to email/metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:04 AM on March 1, 2006

That reminds me. Do you guys have those Philadelphia cream cheese ads where the bimbo angel type woman sits around on a cloud and has a 'manservant' whom she treats like an idiot? How is that any different?
posted by BorgLove at 8:09 AM on March 1, 2006

I'm pretty shocked at how Microsoft would disparage women in technology, if it's real

I think a reasonable argument can be made that it's not a male/female thing but just a nerd/non-nerd thing — that is, I wouldn't be surprised if there are other ads in the same series (or at least in the proposals) that might have a man in bed with a geeky woman or an older person in bed with a younger one.
posted by rafter at 8:34 AM on March 1, 2006

M$ has a long history of using bedroom eyes and sexual motifs suggesting post-coital (dis)satisfaction to sell its products.
posted by meehawl at 9:42 AM on March 1, 2006

Advertisements targeted at college campuses tend to allude to sex, drugs, partying, and the like a lot more than anything published for the public at large. The graphic style resembles a lot of the stuff I'd see during school (1999-2003) so it's not out of the realm of possibility. I would imagine this advertisement was for the campus at large, not the CS department. If anything, the professor probably showed it as a joke as to how students in the class might get laid -- or how Microsoft is portraying the nerdier set to the population at large.

Apparently some people didn't get the context -- the reasonably attractive sorority girl type on the right has just had sex with the dork on the left so that he would help her with her assignment since computers suck. He, on the other hand, just got laid and seems to be cool with that.
posted by mikeh at 2:03 PM on March 1, 2006

"sorority girl type"

Point of information: we have no student fraternities or sororities in New Zealand, nor any close equivalent.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:04 PM on March 1, 2006

I second emailing Sally Jo and asking. The url looks valid for it being her webpace, she is friendly and approachable so a quick email won't hurt. Might as well go to the source and find out for sure.

I've just asked my boyfriend about this, he took her classes and did some marking for her during his time at Waikato Uni and he said that, while he hasn't seen that ad at all, he can imagine Sally Jo possibly showing it in class. It fits his perception of her and her sense of humour. He would not have seen it either in calss or on campus as the price and software edition indicates the ad is recent (ie last couple of years) which is well past our time at Uni.

I would advise not being all upset in the email though, just ask for information. Because the ad is pretty much on a par with what we're used to seeing in NZ and personally (as a female who uses technology of various kinds daily) I find it hilarious.
posted by shelleycat at 8:03 PM on March 1, 2006

Microsoft's international subs tend to have much racier advertising than headquarters. I knew a MS developer who was forced to take down a poster he had in his office (in Redmond) because someone complained. The fact that it was an actual (international) Microsoft poster made no difference.
posted by zanni at 6:40 AM on March 2, 2006

Yes, the ad is real.

"For the record, an MS operative confirmed this morning that this is "an old advertisement which ran only in New Zealand for a short period and is no longer being used".
posted by iviken at 1:27 PM on March 2, 2006

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