I recently saw a commercial for the Sony Bravia which billed itself as “The World’s First Television for Men and Women.”
I’m trying to figure out what the advertisers were thinking this one. I’ve narrowed it down to the following possibilities:
- They noticed that purchasers of HDTVs were disproportionately male, and saw women as an untapped market; however, they were worried that a women-centered ad campaign would lose more male buyers.
- They’re looking to provide the stereotypical man with justifications to his stereotypical partner for the purchasing decision.
Given the blatant sexism of the advertisement, I’m leaning toward the latter.
The headings for the reasons “why men like it” and “why women like it” are identical: “Amazing HD Picture”, “Wider Viewing Angles”, “Broader Color Gamut”, and “Slim Design.” However, the ad copy below has some important differences. Under the first heading, the explanations for men and women read, respectively (emphasis added):
With its lightning-fast response time, the BRAVIA LCD TV displays an HD picture that never lags. That means no more ghosting around your favorite running back. Its new S-PVA panels divide pixels into more segments that have an incredibly fast 8-millisecond response time that increases its refresh rate, making your favorite car chases even more exciting. Plus, the picture automatically adjusts to ambient light conditions so you get the same quality any way you watch it.
The BRAVIA LCD TV automatically adjusts to ambient light conditions. So whether the lights have been dimmed to watch your favorite cable show with the girls or turned off completely while you trick your beloved into watching a beautiful love story, the BRAVIA LCD TV consistently gives you the amazing HD detail you desire.
The “Mars” and “Venus” programming choices are the most obvious examples; I’m guessing her favorite cable show isn’t Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica here. (Actually, I think the last love story my girlfriend and I watched with the lights out was Re-Animator.) But the idea that women need/want to “trick” their (presumably male) beloveds into watching love stories is just plain insulting, as is the treatment of dramas (again, emphasis added):
So, the next time you escape the daily grind by sitting down to your favorite prime-time drama, even if what you’re watching doesn’t reflect real life, at least you know your television’s color will.
Silly women, watching dramas that don’t reflect real life. Not like men, who watch car chases.
The sexism in this ad goes beyond the gendering of programming, though. The “for men” copy actually tells you far more about the TV than the “for women” copy – we get specific data about the response time, while the copy “for women” doesn’t even mention response time or refresh rate. I don’t know if the writers were just lazy and couldn’t think of a gendered reason for women to want these features. After all, if “chick flicks” are just people talking and don’t have explosions or special effects, why would women care about refresh rates? And “8 milliseconds” sounds suspiciously like math.
In fact, a lot of the reasons “why women like it” have nothing to do with actually watching TV:
Why does the couch always have to be in the middle of the room? With the BRAVIA LCD TV it doesn’t have to be. Its 178° viewing angle gives you 178° of space to design. So rearrange the living room any way you want. You’ll still get an outstanding picture no matter where you sit.
It’s called the Living Room, not the TV Room. And the designers of the BRAVIA LCD TV haven’t forgotten that. With its slim design and stylish look, the BRAVIA LCD TV only steals your eye when it’s on. If only the same could be said for his football lamp.
Yep, that’s right. Sony expects women to plunk down several thousand dollars for a high-end HDTV in order to not watch it.
I hear the lines at Best Buy and Circuit City are around the block.