A new commercial for TrueCar.com, an automotive pricing and information website, has raised hackles all through the deep, thorny forest that is the internet.
It opens with a woman talking about how it's hard to "hold her own" at the dealership. "Hm," one thinks, watching. "I bet holding your own at a car dealership is tough, if I've learned anything from the nefarious dad in Matilda. You never know what you're really getting unless you have a lot of experience buying cars and thus know what to look for. I feel for you, lady." Cut to the next customer. Also a woman. She is also anxious about going in to buy a car alone. Cut to THIRD customer — a woman who is nervous about buying a car by herself! And then, finally, the subtext of the entire ad spot is made blatant: "I don't need to bring a dude with me," cheerily intones the first woman.
Ah, yes. Because bringing a dude — any dude, even a newly-abandoned baby boy you find on the steps of a nearby parish or a teenager wearing a promotional sandwich costume on the corner — will know more about cars and being assertive about cars than you do. Duh.
It's fine to imply that those inexperienced with purchasing cars may need help from an outside source — that's really true. If inexperienced car-purchasers aren't careful, Matilda's dad will sell them a broken car filled with sawdust (or whatever). However, to align cluelessness with femaleness and expertise with maleness is, obviously, sexist. Commenters on TrueCar's Facebook page are markedly unhappy with this choice:
Your commercial makes my blood boil. ‘I don’t need to bring a dude with me.’ Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! How incredibly asinine and sexist.
Well garsh, how on earth did I manage to buy a car last year without your site? I mean I did it all by my little self with research and knowing how to stand my ground. Without a man. AND without your website.
The most sexist commercial out there. Wow. I guess all women are just scared, meek, docile little creatures that get intimidated by car dealerships
"Most sexist ad of all time," is perhaps overstating it — because, I mean, at least the women in question aren't fellating hamburgers or mindlessly chasing pawing furiously at a stranger because of his body wash. Regardless, it's quite clear that the ad's condescending, outdated logic is completely outdated and unwelcome.
After releasing a generic apology, TrueCar wrote the following response to AdWeek:
Regardless of race or gender, being a more informed car buyer benefits consumers. TrueCar supplies a hassle-free experience for both men and women by providing car-buying information the public can't get elsewhere.
This particular ad is pro-consumer and pro-women. It was developed by our creative director, who is a woman, and it addresses a real consumer issue in the marketplace.
Because nothing says "pro woman" like an ad that implies women flounder without male guidance and support.