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Bits and pieces: The demeaning new ads from Reebok

By December 10, 2009 14 Comments
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View Reebok's problematic new commercials below

What’s the first thing a woman wants you to notice when you meet her? Is it her smile, her eyes, or perhaps her sparkling wit or charm? Not according to Reebok–at least judging from their latest ads.

It’s no coincidence that in most of these ads, the woman herself is never seen except in bits and pieces. After all, that’s apparently how Reebok sees women: as just boobs and legs, with no pesky identity to distract from the pretty picture.

The first of these ads shows a perky young brunette who seems determined to explain the scientific basis for the benefit the shoes claim to provide, yet is constantly distracted by the cameraman focusing on her well-toned butt. Does this bother the young lady? Of course not, she is properly flattered by the objectifying gaze of the camera! After all, what woman doesn’t want to have men more focused on her butt than on a single word she is saying?

But wait–it gets worse!

Another ad shows a pair of toned legs, writhing sensuously on a bed, while the announcer recites the benefits of the new toning technology of the shoes. “88% of men will be speechless, 76% of women jealous, and 0% will know the reason is on your feet…Better legs and a better butt with every step.”

This ad simply focuses on the age-old idea of women’s self-improvement being simply another way to catch a man’s eye. Disgusting, of course, but nothing new.

But wait–it gets even worse!

The final ad in the new series doesn’t settle for encouraging objectification from men, or even jealousy from other women. No, now it’s time to make a woman’s body jealous of itself! The final ad shows a close up of a woman’s breasts, with a voiceover claiming to be the voice of the breasts. The breasts, the voice claims, are jealous of the attention that the butt is now receiving, after the unseen woman in the ad began using the new Reebok shoes:

It’s no coincidence that in most of these ads, the woman herself is never seen except in bits and pieces. After all, that’s apparently how Reebok sees women: just boobs and legs, with no pesky intelligence or career to distract from the pretty picture.

Reebok may have silenced the women in their advertisements, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t speak up! Let Reebok know what you think by contacting them:

E-mail: corporate@reebok.com

or send a letter to

Katrin Ley
Head of Brand Strategy, Business Development and Women’s
Reebok International
1895 JW Foster Blvd.
Canton, MA 02021

–Elizabeth