There's an interesting new advertising strategy being deployed in London at the moment. A bus stop has been fitted with a fancy ad—no, it's not more gross smellvertising—that uses facial-recognition technology to determine whether the viewer is male or female. It then allows women to see a 40-second video for Plan UK's "Because I Am a Girl" campaign, but men only get to see a URL. The software is correct about 90 percent of the time, but, boy, it must be a bit unnerving to be misidentified!
The ad that's being shown is for a campaign that's working to improve education options for young women in developing countries, whose access is limited simply because they are girls. It's being run by Plan, a children's charity that works to improve life in the world's poorest countries. A Plan rep explains why they felt it was important to create a sex-specific ad:
We're not giving men the choice to see the full ad so they get a glimpse of what it's like to have basic choices taken away.
Just as girls have their choices routinely taken away. It's a powerful thought, but it's hard to know whether your average Joe or Jane who happens upon the bus stop will catch the full meaning. Let's hope they do, since it seems like a very worthy cause. And, of course, if this works, you can bet this technology is going to be used to make sex-specific ads for products that are a lot less worthy, like mascara and Maxim.