What's with Sexist ads?
Posted on October 03, 2016 | By Rana Bou Saada

"I'm not comfortable at my job," the guy in the latest XXL Vodka Mix ad says. 

Although that may have been a smart way to catch viewers' attention, it, however, was also the one and only positive comment to be made about the series of ads recently launched by the brand. 

In the first opening seconds of the TVC, viewers learn that the ad's main character, played by actor Elias Zayek, is utterly distracted, innerved, and uncertain about how to deal with the mixed signals he’s been receiving from his ‘attractive’ female co-workers.  

Whether it's Marianne, Monique or any other girl working at his office, he sees them all as sex-symbols with pretty faces, sexy bodies and tight outfits. They are seducing him as he tries to remain professional by keeping his distance. 

Considering the nature of this campaign, sensitive viewers will not only be appalled but also offended by the shameless nature of such a sexist campaign that openly objectifies women in all their ‘splendour’. Worse still, the women are as portrayed as the instigators of lude behaviour reinforcing media's infamous beauty standards. 

In one of the 46-second spot, the main male character is at the centre of the frame surrounded by women and is portrayed as the powerful alfa male all women want to serve and please. It is also notable that only the two male characters speak as the rest of the females simply strut their stuff, which may also be intentional and in-line with the French saying, "Sois belle et tais-toi!"

To further complicate matters, the main character’s gentleman behaviour is ridiculed by his male friend rather than commended. As a result, and upon hearing this news, the very same ‘friend’ is seen at the end of the commercial applying to that company, probably in hope of ‘getting some’.  

To our surprise, people actually liked this ad, which amassed more than 97 thousand views on XXL Vodka Mix’s official Facebook page. It also received a thousand likes, 235 shares and 229 comments prior to the publication of this article.

A quick review of the latest 50 comments shows that around 80 percent of them were written by men (expected!) who were so entertained that they recommended it to their compatriots. 

We understand that XXL’s main purpose was to create a humorous ad, to which people can relate. Many brands, especially alcoholic ones, have followed a similar tactic. The result is often positive: the ad goes viral and the audience has a good laugh about it. For instance, several Buzz sexist ads were well-received as well.

However, what many brands seem to overlook is the fine line between humour and derogation. In order to create a funny ad, brands believe it is acceptable to objectify and sexualize women. Media literacy is thus much needed today.