A: What the …?! Who put the Stihl calendar in the bin?! I was going to hang that up in the workshop.
B: No, you’re not. That calendar really ticks me off. Let’s see: How many women work in our company?
A: Duh? Like, none. After all, it is a tree care company! Remember? Hard work, takes a real man to do tree work.
B: (slaps hand to forehead) That’s exactly my point. Think about it… In a heavily male-dominated industry a company selling power tools uses scantily clad women to sell their kit. More than just that, you actually have to look closely in the pictures to spot the tools. There is zero connection between the imagery and the product it is selling. You are falling for one of the most basic marketing ploys.
A: Pffff, sometimes I really get bored with all your political correctness. It’s just a bit of fun, it’s not as though it’s hurting anybody, is it? Just try to loosen up a bit…
B: Loosen up? For starters I disagree with what you said before that tree work is necessarily men’s work – I can think of a number of female climbers who I have seen at climbing comps, like Jo from the UK or Nicky from NZ to name but two, who out-climb all the guys in the field. Did you know that at the last European climbing comps in Poland, Anja from Switzerland placed first over all in Work Climb? Smoked them all, men and women. I saw her climb, it was bloody impressive.
What I am saying is that if I imagine being a woman considering a career in arboriculture and were confronted with such imagery I would find it really quite offensive and off-putting. Surely, we should be trying to encourage women to get involved in tree care? Having a woman on the team can totally change the dynamic of the group.
A: Yeah, well, I dunno. Chicks on rope? I think I would find that more distracting than anything else. We would have to look out for her all the time.
B: That is just such BS. Consider our team: We have men who are big and small, fat and skinny, fast and slow. Don’t get tripped up over the one chromosome difference, it’s not as though that makes a woman a space alien from a different planet. The gender hurdle is not an insurmountable obstacle, we can do this!
A: In Sir what?! … (grumbles) Try talking English!
B: Did you see that poster on the billboard by the entrance to the yard? The BKW one? Hold on, I’ll just try to pull it up on my phone… (a couple of swipes later) Here you go, have a look.
See, the point I am trying to make is that I like images of a woman as much as the next guy. But take the photo in the BKW ad… the woman is properly kitted out, looks competent and able to do the job. She’s not just another pretty face used to sell a company’s kit. Sex sells, they say – and the calendar just goes to prove that point.
A: Well, actually, just looking at the pic of the work at height girlie… did you notice that the karabiner of the shoulder straps is not installed on the loop as it should be, not closed correctly and she’s got her leg loops all twisted? Doesn’t look like someone who knows what she’s doing to me.
B: That is different matter again. You’re right, that is a stupid and unnecessary oversight. But I don’t think that reflects upon the woman, more on the creatives in the graphic agency who are responsible this campaign for BKW. How hard would it have been to have the image proofed. I mean look, it took a knuckle-dragging tree guy a couple of seconds to spot the blindingly obvious…
A: Heeeeey! You calling me a knuckle dragger?! (throws a soggy, smelly Showa glove in B’s direction)
B: (dodges the glove) But jokes aside. I think photos of women behaving in a professional manner are great and they can help move things along. However in an industry where the gender ratio is so out of balance, to use images of girls in tight bikinis to sell a product just seems really shallow. That is why I put the calendar in the bin.
Apart from that this discussion is not about the two companies: I love Stihl’s saws, I’ve got their full range from a 201 through to a 660 and think they’re great tools. BKW, on the other hand, is an energy provider running, amongst other things, ageing atomic power stations that should have been turned off years ago, so no love lost there! No, this discussion is about the way in which they market their product.
A: Ack! Whatever. I think I just felt a trickle of blood coming out of my left ear.
B: Trickle away. I rest my case, your honor.
This discussion is fictional and did not take place during our lunch break, any likenesses are therefore unintended and purely coincidental.