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Zappos’ New Ads Dehumanize Women

There’s a new ad campaign from Zappos.com that features naked models on the street doing a variety of activities. The ads, which will appear in major magazines like InStyle and Harper’s Bazaar in the coming months, encourage the consumer to virtually “dress” models via new scan-able QR technology. They also feature Zappos’ slogan, “More than shoes,” strategically placed on the bodies of the women. The campaign has already been called “very creative,” “ambitious” and “radical.”

So I would like to clarify one thing: using the exposed bodies of women to sell clothing is not radical. It’s not even “very creative.” In fact, it’s been a primary way advertisers have sold us things for decades.And each time we have exciting new technologies, advertisers repeat this same stayed approach. From magazine advertisements in the 70s to manipulative internet ads in the last decade, the media has repeatedly preyed on and used women and girls to make a profit – and we often laud them as being “innovative.”

Jennifer made Miss Representation, and started MissRepresentation.org, to expose and challenge exactly this kind of advertising and media. It is dangerous to ignore ad campaigns such as Zappos, especially because they are so subtle in their effect.

It isn’t just that the women are naked. It’s the way in which the ad positions the naked models. They are on display, meant to sell not clothes, but sex. It’s a blatant attempt to commodify the bodies of these women –literally turning them into objects, which we can then ogle (as men in each advertisement do) and even decorate. It is, again, not the first time this has been done. And it won’t be the last.

Unless we do something about it. Our organization has launched a petition at Change.org to raise awareness and ultimately ask Zappos to reconsider their advertising strategy.

Moreover, we are using the very same technology, QR codes, to spread the word about the campaign. Proof that being “creative” doesn’t require the objectification of women. If you scan this image below, it will take you to our petition:

We believe, with your help, we can challenge the advertising industry’s tired representations of people, and subsequently transform the way this country treats women and girls.  It’s a tough fight, but we are confident that the small actions of many will ultimately lead to some big changes.

Tell Zappos women are more than objects.

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Posted in: Advertising