Ladies, did you know you can do more than email and shop on computers? Been looking for that on-the-move bra-size converter? If you've been laboring under the delusion that gadgets are just for boys, then here's some great news!
Girls can use consumer technology too! Yes, it's true. And these companies are going to make sure you know it! But that's things get ugly: companies just don't know how to properly advertise to woman.
Granted, you might not necessarily need to give us every single spec in every advert; if I want to know the video playback format options on a phone, I can look it up later if I'm interested. But for the love of god, please don't tell us how to use Google. Don't highlight a calorie-counter, a "feminine wishlist" or the ability to "TXT a friend" as major phone features. Oh, wait — too late.
You like chocolate, don't you ladies? Popping chocolate in your little mouths while sitting around wearing those funny fashion things that make you look like moulting baby chickens. Careful though, there are two types of chocolate and only one of them has a 2 megapixel camera. Don't get mixed up!
iPad app Bella Girl - Beauty Assistant
Ever wanted to check up on your ovulation while shopping for bras? I'm probably missing out swathes of geopolitical context by dissing this iPad app developed in Hong Kong, but the press release just made me beat myself round the head with the nearest tablet computer. This is an app specially designed for the laydeez:
"Mooee Company today is pleased to introduce Bella Girl - Beauty Assistant for the iPad. Developed specifically for the smart ladies who require beauty tools to help them manage their beauty care needs. Bella Girl consists of several beauty and shopping tools, a BMI calculator, a calorie counter, a beauty treatment timer, a size converter for rings, shoes and bra, a period and ovulation estimator, and smart compare for those avid shoppers."
I think it's the use of the word "smart" that gets me.
With these phone ads, Verizon made headlines for sounding like emotionally retarded 8-year-olds. Not so much patronizing as downright sexist, this video advert for the Droid 2 phone by Verizon compared its boxy new Android phone to the iPhone, asking: "Should a phone be pretty? Should it be a tiara-wearing digitally clueless beauty pageant queen? … This is a phone that swaps can-do for hair-do." It also manages to fit anti-Japanese and homophobic slights into its brief 31 seconds. Well done Verizon, well done.
Della, Dell's computer shop for women
This 2009 attempt by Dell to make a computer-retail site friendly to women got such a severe reaction that it was swiftly withdrawn. Assuming the intelligence of a bunny rabbit on the part of its readers, Della's "tech tips" section offered advice on how to use Google and Flickr, and informed women that the Inspiron Mini computer was more than just a cool coloured accessory that matches your purse! Allow us to quote: "Once you get beyond ‘OMG-that's-so-cute-I-want-one!' (a totally understandable response)…, you'll find that it can do more than just check e-mail or shop online." No, really. Yes, really. You can "find recipes online, store and organize them, and watch cooking videos" and "use your Mini to track calories, carbs, and protein with ease." I'll be getting an Asus then.
Blackberry Curve by Verizon
Boing Boing took exception to this advert for the Pinkberry Curve 8830 in 2008 and added some illuminating annotations of their own (the scribbles in red). They pretty well say it all. In case you can't read the bit at the bottom, it says, "TXT a friend. Email the boss. Check the web. Call the sitter. Mark your calendar. Change your plans — and look good doing it all." Face, palm, we believe you two have met…
Boasting a quilted back, a "camera with beauty editing features," "feminine themes and Wishlist" and an "Advanced Communicator," this is for a real Diva. [Tenses fists slightly.] Note that the feminine wishlist is where you can write down the perfume and bag you want to buy. This definitely merits its inclusion in this list for the use of the phrase "Advanced Communicator" to describe a widget that lets you update your Facebook status.
Maria Sharapova for Sony Ericsson T707
That top-ranked female tennis player Maria Sharapova sure likes to get the latest gossip, fashion and party news on her discotastic Sony Ericsson T707! And you just know if it was a male tennis star advertising a phone the emphasis would be on speed, power and accuracy.
Sony Ericsson Vivaz
That's actually your hair that you see all around you, sweetheart. Your hair and a computer-generated flood of what looks like solid fanta. Nevermind — whatever it is, you can photograph it.
LG Fashion Flaunt
Well this is more silly than anything else. And strangely compelling at the same time. Eva Longoria and Victoria Beckham talk about technology and take pictures of themselves on their phones. Can this be a regular feature?
Largely a nice gender-neutral brand, Apple trips up too. Let's just take a little look at that iPad TV ad again. So there are some beauty shots of the WunderPad then there's a guy on the sofa skimming through all the features. Okay, so Apple chose one person to demonstrate the features and that person is a white man. Fine, whatever. But skip to the final 10 seconds of the 90 second ad, the camera zooms out and there's his girlfriend sitting next to him on the sofa, quietly gazing at this wonder on her boyfriend's lap, and patiently watching as her man demonstrates his ability to open and close apps and operate the pinch-to-zoom function. SWOON.