Netizens cry foul over 'sexist, misogynistic' post, ad agency refuses to apologize
JAKARTA, Indonesia – A job vacancy call-out on the Facebook page of an ad agency attracted more attention than it expected – but for all the wrong reasons.
On Tuesday, May 24, Indonesian ad agency Ceritera posted what netizens called "sexist" and "tasteless."
The post sought a Senior Video Editor for the agency, and encouraged applicants to sign up because "we have an ex-stewardess on board."
"Things are looking good. Not only business-wise, but also view-in-the-office wise since we had a former flight attendant join us a while ago," said the post.
It went on: "If you're a Senior Video Editor here at Ceritera, you can impress her with your warm, romantic, savvy editing skills, and woo her with your leadership and your mature work ethic."
The post attracted 43 comments as of Wednesday afternoon, May 25 – not to apply, but to express anger at what they viewed as a misogynistic ad.
Facebook user Devi Asmarani said, "Ceritera – You guys really f****d up, just admit it. This isn't 1950s, when this kind of ads might be called 'witty'. Wake up, it's 2016!"
Another commenter, Rachel A V Sherwood posted, "I would NEVER hire a creative agency that relies on crass, objectification of human beings to get publicity. That's not very creative I can't imagine the crap you spit out for your clients."
Netizen Karta Kosasih added, "Whoever at Ceritera created this misogynistic ad and whoever at Ceritera thought (and still think) that this very very very very poor attempt at humour/satire is funny, you guys are sad human beings."
But Ceritera continued to see nothing wrong with their ad as evidenced by their responses to the comments.
Facebooker user Suci Brooks said, "Do you have to use women to get anyone interested working in your company? Wouldn't competitive salary, nice team work, family friendly, or friendly office would be a better selling point than that?"
Ceritera then replied: "Everything you just said, is already said a thousand times in every vacancy ad. Btw, it's called humor."
They also replied to a comment by Gabriela Gondokusumo who said, "You're supposed to be a creative content agency but you're out of ideas aren't you? If this is 'humor', thank you for spreading this sick, disgusting concept called sexism."
Ceritera responded sarcastically, "Thank you for your input. We did run out of ideas and this disgusting piece of sexism is all we could think of right now. We'll try to do better."
Netizen Yenni Kwok also got a reply to her post. She said, "At least you are honest that you hired a woman to create a "beautiful scenery" at the office. Are we still living in the Mad Men era?"
To which Ceritera said: "You are assuming: The girl is highly qualified, and apparently she's an ex-stewardess. Did we ever say we hire someone (particularly the ex-stewadess) because of their good looks? You should see how ugly the other girls here (are) in the office. Hideous."
Some comments on the original post also called out to Edward Suhadi, Ceritera's Creative Director, for his take.
"I so hope the owner Edward Suhadi is not the person replying (to) all the comments. We are talking about someone who is (part of the) media team of Departemen Pendidikan Indonesia (Indonesian Department of Education). Hayah," said netizen Cika Lai.
It is not clear whether it was indeed Suhadi replying to the posts but it turned out that Suhadi found nothing wrong with the ad.
In a separate Facbeook post on Wednesday, Suhadi defended the ad saying people should "lighten up," calling the ad "bloody brilliant."
"Whoa, when you think you're just making (sic) harmless fun, people are coming at you with pitchforks," he said in his post.
He then went on to explain why he thought there was nothing wrong with the post.
"I can’t help but wonder, if you call me a sexist by calling a girl beautiful (“good looking view”), then you’re also implying that the only reason I have her in my office is because she is beautiful, period. Now who’s sexist now? Tsk tsk tsk. Or is it simply that we cannot say someone is beautiful in the workplace anymore? Geez," he said,
He also said that the agency is full of "youngsters, in their 20s and 30s" who are "just kids having fun."
"The first time the girl came in, the mob already (said) “cieee... cieee...” some of the jomblo guys with the girl blushing and laughing. We’re just having fun. We know our boundaries. I don’t know if these harmless laughters today are considered sexist."
He then went on to say that even the ex-flight attendant thought the ad was funny. He also said that he knows what the boundaries are but believes he did not cross it with the ad.
"I work in marketing and communication with brands. I know sexism, harassment, so on and so on. I handle brands for a living. So I know a stuff or two. This, is not sexism. It’s a naughty copy edging on it, but not sexism."
But the post only backfired on Suhadi, ammassing 43 angry comments.
"I couldn't be bothered getting through your entire post, but what I will say is - I have forever lost faith in your business. Leave aside sexism, feminism etc. The 'message' that I get loud and clear: you don't understand how to manage a brand, and what brand means," said commenter Paridhi Jain.
Netizen Amie Weller Colbert said, "You have just dug yourself into a deeper hole with this pitiful explanation which only serves to demonstrate you are more sexist than it first seemed."
"FYI working on marketing and communications does not qualify you to know a thing about sexism or the objectification of anyone. In fact, it makes you more susceptible to using it as a tool to sell which is exactly what you have done here. If I were your clients, I would be very careful using your services."
A certain Butch Velasquez also castigated Suhadi, saying, "I've worked with, and worked for, advertising agencies. What you did, and how you're justifying it in this post of yours, goes against responsible advertising."
He added, "Advertising is not just about you. It's also about what you are communicating to your audience. Not only is your ad sexist, but it encourages objectification of women. I'm surprised the ad got approved in the first place."
Both the ad and Suhadi's post remain online as of publication time despite the criticism.
What do you think about the post? Leave your comments below. – Rappler.com