A prominent advertising conference in the US has come under fire after it pushed the values of gender, inclusion and the promotion of women in the industry only to close the event with a performance by rap artist Pitbull and an accompanying troupe of scantily clad female dancers.
The Advertising Week New York conference included sessions titled ‘The State of Women’s Representation in Advertising’, ‘Raising the Stories of Women Who Came Before Us,’ ‘Eyes on 2020: Fearless Female Voices Reshaping Media and Impacting the World’.
Not that Pitbull saw any hint of irony, explaining to party guests during his live performance: “Music brings everybody together. It has no barriers. It has no boundaries. It definitely has no borders. And it has no limits.”
Check out some of Friday night’s wrap party below.
— Ad Age (@adage) September 27, 2019
None other than Cindy Gallop has lead the chorus of complaints about the event’s entertainment.
In a statement to B&T, Gallop said: “Systemic, endemic sexual harassment in our industry is about abuse of power.
“In an industry that sells first and foremost to female consumers, but continues to be male-dominated and massively power-imbalanced when it comes to women, to keep women out of leadership, influence and power (especially in the creative department), and to talk gender equality, diversity and inclusion but spectacularly fail to deliver on it, it is wholly inappropriate to feature a closing Advertising Week musical act that objectifies women.
“Our industry prides itself on its creativity and innovation. When equality, diversity and inclusion are top of mind in the industry, how much creativity and innovation would it have taken to have thought of booking female artistes for Advertising Week?” Gallop said.
The event organisers have yet to publicly comment on the backlash.
And social media was quick to condemn the choice of entertainment. Here’s just a slice of the Twitter fury:
“Advertising industry closes week of diversity and equality panels with an empowering display of twerking and booty-slapping.”
“With this type of shows we want to eradicate the machismo and misogyny of advertising? Is like shooting to your own foots.”
“Just like the ad industry that does shit outdated as f@ck.”
“The ad industry continues to prove that unless we actually burn it to the ground, it is never going to get any smarter, any more inclusive, any less toxic and patriarchal.”
“Guys, c’mon. Have a word with yourselves yeah?”
“I never want to hear again from some clueless, enabled CD/design dudebro, ‘Why do you think women aren’t welcome? Equality isn’t an issue anymore.’ Way to represent what the industry is really like.”
“Love me a bit of objectification and leering to end the week. How embarrassing.”
“All feminism aside, our job is to be insightful and culturally relevant … while he’s Mr Worldwide, Pitbull hasn’t been relevant since 2014. You couldn’t have had lizzo or lil bad x or someone who has something to say other than dalè?”
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