Fancy New Ad Uses Facial Recognition Software To Ensure Only Women See It

Illustration for article titled Fancy New Ad Uses Facial Recognition Software To Ensure Only Women See It

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.

Girls' Education Campaign Runs Street Ad Only Women Can See {AdWeek]



I don't know. I'm coming from an advertising perspective on this one but it doesn't sound well thought out at all. It feels like the media suppliers (and/or a techy art director) came to the client with a sales pitch of the weird and wonderful things you can do with a 6 sheet bus shelter and so they created a concept just to do something innovative. Again from an advertising POV, you have to applaud the innovation but I'd be skeptical of the message and mechanism behind it.

For a start, surely women are at least more sensitive to the plights of other women around the world (maybe it's generous to assume the majority of women do) and secondly, I hate to say this but most men on the street probably will not care that they haven't been granted access to the full ad, won't seek out the full ad online, and won't connect the dots that "this is what it feels like to have basic choices taken away".

Also, not being able to view a full ad is really having your basic choice taken away? And the charity were happy to equate some guy not being able to view it with young girls forced into marriage, or being raped, or not having access to education? Reeeeeeeally?

As Cassie says above, I bet Lynx or Yorkie bars or some other brand that thrives on being just for 'real men' will take advantage of this next. And sadly, I bet they're sexist, entertaining, effective, work better with the brand, and have a message that makes more sense for the medium.