An open letter to the South African advertising industry

Dear South African Advertising Industry

We have had a long relationship, but I’m afraid it’s time we called it quits. That, or something (you) has to change. We’ve had our laughs but your attitude is starting to piss me off, specifically your attitude regarding women and gender roles in general.

We aren’t in 1960 and you aren’t on Mad Men. You don’t have to rely on outdated tropes to sell something or try to elicit a laugh. The thing is, most of us have realised that arbitrarily assigning a chore, activity, colour, hobby or whatever to a certain gender is just plain ridiculous.

“What tropes?” you ask innocently. Let me break it down for you. The idea that all men are bench-pressing, promiscuous “free agents” (not slutty, that’s only for girls obviously), dominating, gaming, immature macho guys. That women are: stay-at-home, doing-all-the-chores, have-it-all moms, nagging girlfriend/wife/mother, or looking to be either of these. Both of these portrayals are incorrect and harmful. Wait a minute before you scoff at ‘harmful’ and let me explain.

Advertising is supposed to represent someone that consumers can relate to. So you, as the advertising industry, make use of representations of the everyman or woman. By using stereotypes in these representations, you perpetuate the idea and send the message that every man/woman acts or thinks in the way that is portrayed in the ad. This in turn may influence the ideas people have, their expectations and they might actually start to believe the trope you are selling! And that is why it is harmful: it reinforces these ridiculous ideas that should have been extinct by now. Please, stop.

“But I don’t do any of these things you accuse me of”, you protest. Oh yes you do. In one advert for instance, you portray that men only look like they’re crying when actually they’re enjoying a particularly spicy burger. But then, appearing to be sensitive, they score hot chicks! Yes, KFC, I’m looking at you. In reality this ad sends the message that men don’t cry. It’s for sissies, or even worse, girls. It also sends the message that men can manipulate (scantily clad) women to fall for them by appearing to be sensitive and crying over puppies.

KFC you are by no means the only guilty one, but your ads just get under my skin. Steers, my old friend, you are also guilty even though in a slightly different way. Hoohah! I notice only guys in your King Steer ads. Girls, chicks, women, people of the female persuasion, also enjoy eating burgers. And it pains me that you would advertise yourself in this manner because I really like you. I thought we had something special.

You want more evidence? In some ad for a bleach or washing powder one women moans (because what else do women do, amiright?) that it is so embarrassing for her husband when he wears dirty shirts. Poor man. He must not have hands which is why he is incapable of doing laundry so his wife has to clean the shirts that embarrass him so. Same goes for all other products advertising how easy it is for MOM to do the dishes (no idea what product) or make sure the kids brush their teeth (aquafresh).

No two women and no two men are exactly the same, with the same interests. To imply otherwise is to lie. Your interests are not determined by your sex or gender. I like cooking, I’m female. I don’t like cooking because I’m female. I like cooking because I like eating. And according to adverts the only things women eat are nutritional supplements and breakfast foods that regulate your bowels. Is there something wrong with me because I eat burgers and do not like pink? Is a man who cares about his bowel movements less of a man? I think you’ll find the answer to both questions is no.

I realise that adverts rely on certain generalisations to convey more information than can fit into an advert. But I also believe this is entirely possible to do without using sexist stereotypes. Instead of advertising something for men or women, just advertise it to the people who use it, regardless of sex. Men want to lose weight too, women also want to buy cars.

To conclude, let’s play a game. I’ll describe an ad and you spot the sexism.

· OLX – a pregnant woman is being all responsible and selling her husband’s childish things to prepare for the arrival of Baby. The husband is engrossed in the sports match on TV and has no time for women things like babies and cribs and stuff.

· Castle lite – there is a party in the snow. The men are in jeans and shirts. The women are in the shortest shorts and revealing tops. I’ll give you a clue: if you are going to objectify people, do it to everyone; make the men shirtless. I believe in equal opportunity discrimination.

· Shield roll-on – in the ad for the women’s roll-on, a young lady sweats because it’s a little warm, she makes a few ‘light movements’ and is anxious because her boyfriend is late. These are actual reasons for sweat as listed in the ad. In the ad for men, a man is involved in a high-action Inception-like chase, reminiscent of James Bond.

· Cell-c – women as cellphone deals.

My dear friend Advertising Industry if, by now, you cannot see what is wrong with this picture then we shall have to end this friendship. It’s for the best. It’s not me, it’s you. Until you’ve grown up a bit and stopped relying on tired stereotypes to get your point across, until I see an ad for a household cleaning thingy and a man is doing the cleaning or women are portrayed zipping through mountain scenery in a fast little car, consider yourself unfollowed and unfriended.


Lizl Morden


Lizl Morden
Lizl Morden

Lizl Morden is a generally anti-social yet outspoken bibliophile and text editor, fighting the myth that pink is for girls and blue is boys one day at a time.


6 thoughts on “An open letter to the South African advertising industry”

  1. The large amount of sexist and mis-leading advertising currently being shown on television which is derogative and degrading towards men and portrays women as being more intelligent and “worth it” is absolutely evil; extremely arrogant and is the root cause of many of the problems we are all now encountering in modern society.

    Advertisers are unwittingly(?) doing an incalculable amount of damage to the younger
    generations of today by wrongly portraying men as being less intelligent than, or easily-manipulated by women, as a means of selling a product or service, because this incorrect portrayal of men and women is teaching the wrong spiritual; role-model and moral standards to the young generations of today.

    Young boys are being taught that girls are more intelligent and more “in control” than boys are, and girls are being taught that everyone should be running around after them and worshipping them instead of God, because television advertising is portraying girls/women as being “sex-goddesses” to be worshipped by boys/men and is constantly telling women that “they’re worth it” and that men are worthless.

    This degradation of the Spiritual strength and masculinity of men is the root-cause of many of the social problems that both men and women are currently facing in modern society, such as the increasing number of men suffering from depression; committing suicide or turning to homosexuality and the increasing number of women taking up and becoming addicted to smoking, drinking and other stress relieving drugs, in order to try to cope with modern day life.

    Because of this constant degradation of the man’s status as being the strong Spiritual leader (which does not mean beating your wife, or anyone else for that matter), it is becoming increasingly more difficult to be a real man in modern society. Consequently many men find that they can’t fulfill what they feel to be, and God says is, their role in society. Because of this false propaganda and laws that take away and give custody of men’s children to women, men become depressed, some committing suicide and others try to turn to doing the role of women in society and become what God condemns as an abomination to Him – homosexuals.

    On the other side of the same coin we have women trying to take over and fulfill the man’s role in society, which women are not spiritually equipped to do because they are affected more easily than men by emotions and mood-swings caused by the greater amount of hormones in their blood-stream controlling the various cycles of the female body, which enables Satan to manipulate them and their thoughts more easily than he can do with a man. That is part of why Eve (woman) gave in to the serpent (Satan) and was then commanded by God to allow Adam (man) to rule over her (woman) and thereby help to prevent Satan from succeeding in having his will done on Earth, instead of God’s Will being done. Because of the role-reversal, most women who are in positions of authority suffer from excessive stress and turn to smoking, drink or other drugs to cope, and consequently enter the downward spiral of drug dependency and depression, ultimately leading to their own self-destruction. For a full explanation of this, please study “The Way home or face The Fire”.

    In The Bible (which is the only thing in this world of ours that still makes perfect sense) we are told that God created man, first, and that, as an after-thought, He made woman from out of the flesh of man, to be a ‘help-mate’ for and to obey man, whom she (woman) should cleave unto in marriage, bearing his children and they would become ‘one flesh’ or one family unit (Genesis 2:20-24; 3:16-17). With God as the “Divine Navigator” and the man as the “captain” of the “Ship” (family unit) and each “Ship” with a faithful and obedient “crew” (wife and children), any problems the “Ship” (family unit) may encounter would be easily surmounted by means of the “captain” passing on the correct advice, which he obtains less-hindered by emotions and mood-swings, from “The Divine Navigator” (God) and the “crew” (wife and children) would faith-fully carry out orders to ensure plain-sailing through life’s problems and create a stable environment in which to bring children into the world.

    All of The Bible Prophets were men and all of JEsus’ DIciples (the JE/DI) were also men, so why are and who is making the advertising companies produce adverts which deliberately put across the message that women are or should be the dominant sex? This advertising message goes totally against and is the opposite of The Word of God (The ultimate Truth and Reality of who we really are and why we are really here) and is plainly and obviously destroying BOTH men and women in modern society. So the answer to, who is making them do this, is obvious – Satan the Opposer and Destroyer is making them do this.

    I feel that this issue should at least be looked into by the Broadcasting Standards Commission and other similar bodies, which are set-up to handle these sorts of issues, because until the “experts” (so-called) begin to see what is really happening in society and why; the advertisements on television which are undermining men’s masculinity will continue to cause incalculable damage to the impressionable minds of our young people, who are being shown the wrong values in life. Consequently our young people are growing up mal-adjusted and will be unable to find true happiness in later life because they will be unable to find and fulfill their true role or life purpose in society.

    I sincerely hope that the “experts” see the truth and validity of God’s advice, instead of their own and that of other so-called experts and the social problems which are occurring due to mis-leading television advertising and programmes. I also hope that something can be done to put a stop to the sexist and mis-leading messages that are being portrayed in the adverts and programmes that our young people are being shown on television and are led to believe are true-to-life and normal human behaviour.

    If anyone reading this article can see ways that they can help to put a stop to this ever-increasing problem in society, please contact us so we can work together to make the change for the better, before too many of our young people are mis-guided into believing that the wrong values which are being taught through television advertising and programmes are the correct values for them to live their lives by and are deceived into accepting these wrong moral values as normality and destroy their own lives and the lives of others through doing so. Matt.


    1. Vanessa? Matt? Is it really always something OUTER that is so imbalanced? Look to yourself and make your personal adjustments according to your personal beliefs… and let others do the same. Your truths are not necessarily mine nor anyone elses… or maybe they are. Judgement is SO a personal perspective!


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