Monday, July 28, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 29 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

'Breast marketing' by Samsung, LG attracts derision

By Associated Press


SEOUL » When Samsung unveiled a new smartphone at the storied Radio City Music Hall, the Broadway-style spectacle was memorable not for technology, but for a cast of giggling female characters who fantasized about marrying a doctor, fretted about eating too much cake and needed a man's help to understand how to work the phone.

The stereotypes were blatant even for an industry where skimpily clad booth babes are a staple of trade shows and high-level female executives are a rarity. A backlash spread online as the event, live-streamed on the Internet and broadcast in Times Square, unfolded.

How could an international company that wants to be seen as an innovator and spends more than $11 billion a year on advertising and promotions so badly misjudge its audience? Without too much difficulty and often, it turns out.

A day before the Galaxy smartphone launch in March 2013, the company was criticized in South Africa for using models in bikini tops to show its newest refrigerators and washing machines.

Some months later it was derided for a video promoting a fast data storage device known as a solid-state drive. Two men in the ad immediately recognize the device and understand the benefits while a woman, who says she uses her computer only for simple activities such as looking at pictures, is befuddled.

Marlene Morris Town, a marketing professor at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, said the portrayals are "troubling" and imply that men are the sole target of the sales message. If women are the target, the implication is "they are significantly less competent and not able to grasp technology."

Samsung is hardly alone in talking down to half of its potential customers.

Facebook user Lee Sang-hoon collected two dozen images of LG Electronics products promoted by women with ample cleavage. The company's promotion for a new curved TV was a woman showing off her thighs in a reclining pose.

"Among men we talk about how LG does breast marketing," said Lee, who noted LG seemed to have toned down its promotions this year.

Perhaps because depictions of females as adornments have long been the norm in South Korean advertising, audiences rarely questioned the approaches of homegrown technology giants such as Samsung and LG. Even as these companies became global names, ingrained aspects of their corporate cultures hardly changed. Some of Samsung's blunders took place under female leadership. A top marketing executive in its mobile team was a woman and gave the green light to the Radio City Music Hall performance.

This year Samsung tried for the first time to dispense with young women in tight clothes for a TV launch in South Korea.

"In the past it seemed that a lot of reporters were focusing on something else, not our TVs," said Kim Hyun-seok, head of Samsung's television business.

But far from winning plaudits, Samsung became the victim of the cult it helped create. Without models, news photographers and camera crews refused to shoot a new curved-screen television at the Samsung launch in February. Instead, they asked female assistants hired to explain technical features to stand next to the TVs.

Ken Hong, a spokes­man for LG, said the content of promotions boils down to what the audience wants.

"Using female models for tech product photos is popular with Korean readers," he said. But when he distributes pictures to international media, he usually opts for product-only shots and tries to limit the use of models to situations where the size of the product needs to be emphasized.

Minjeong Kim, an assistant professor of women's studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, said the imagery has real consequences for how women are perceived.

"They are inviting, they are smiling and they just stand there," she said. "They reinforce the feminine ideals that women should be nice and submissive."

Youkyung Lee, Associated Press

 Print   Email   Comment | View 29 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
manakuke wrote:
In advertising circles it is called ‘T and A’ advertising and is used very sparingly since it does backfire.
on April 7,2014 | 03:07AM
toomuchpilikia wrote:
Sounds like a "War on women" Where is a democrat when you need one?
on April 7,2014 | 04:06AM
awahana wrote:
This is the status quo in Asia, where sexism and the dominance of men, and the submission of women, are alive and well today.
Just go to your nearest asian market, and sit and observe how genders and generations interact. Pretty telling.
Much like the Asiana crash in SFO, the overseas executives are afraid to speak up against the corporate homeboys, who mistakenly, and automatically, expanded their homegrown marketing mentality to the rest of the world without stopping to think. Oops.
Might get away with it in Hollywood, but elsewhere, not so much.
on April 7,2014 | 05:20AM
2disgusted2 wrote:
Just go to the East West Center!
on April 7,2014 | 10:09AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Why do they always use scantily clad young women in car ads. I bet they can't even change the tires.
on April 7,2014 | 06:50AM
awahana wrote:
Exactly. Because you will pull over and change the tires for these women.
on April 7,2014 | 07:57AM
mitt_grund wrote:
Note that they feature scantily clad models at the First Hawaiian auto show. So, we aren't much different. We've got our H**ters waitresses, etc., so Hawaii and US are not that much different. Maybe it's jealousy that we even talk about this. Just because it's not PC here in US. We're just guys who have been em*sculated. Yup, got to watch out about PC (Penlope Cruz?).
on April 7,2014 | 03:34PM
palani wrote:
Works for me.
on April 7,2014 | 06:50AM
Tom938 wrote:
Couldn't include the pic's so we could become properly incensed?
on April 7,2014 | 06:58AM
leino wrote:
It is more about legs. http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/04/03/3754262/old-habits-at-samsung-lg-embarrass.html
on April 7,2014 | 07:39AM
Anonymous wrote:
Star Advertiser = HOTTIE OF THE WEEK Yeah, breast advertising works.
on April 7,2014 | 07:40AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Yes, Anon, pics on the SA works for me too.
on April 7,2014 | 07:47AM
bluemountain wrote:
Our local TV news stations use it too.
on April 7,2014 | 08:44AM
inverse wrote:
KITV added Ann Sterling and they are experimenting with a combo of Ann Sterling and Lara Yamada in the morning or Yunji Denies and Lara Yamada in the evening time slot. Sounds like a start for KITV to climb up in the ratings.
on April 7,2014 | 10:08AM
Morimoto wrote:
They sure try . Doesn't work on me though, I actually can't stand most of the women news reporters, especially the weather reporters. They always sound so girly and unprofessional. KITV is the worst, KHON with Joe Moore is the best, Paula Akana is also pretty good. They got to get rid of Marisa Yamane, she's always getting too emotional.
on April 7,2014 | 10:21AM
Anonymous wrote:
Interesting...how did I become Anonymous? Cool, now I can say all kinds of inflammatory things. Troll City here I come!
on April 7,2014 | 12:27PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
I really resent that feature if the SA! It says what we have become in Hawaii!
on April 7,2014 | 10:09AM
HD36 wrote:
Should we force Hooters to hire flat chested fat women? Should we force the NFL to include transgendered cheerleaders? Should the UFC use ring guys? Private companies can make that choice because people vote with their dollars.
on April 7,2014 | 08:08AM
seaborn wrote:
Much ado about absolutely nothing.
on April 7,2014 | 08:57AM
Maipono wrote:
I agree with the other posters that this is not news, but an excuse to put a pretty girl in a picture, and call it news to attract more readership. What LG does, is what all corporations do to drive more business to their advertising.
on April 7,2014 | 09:07AM
inverse wrote:
NOTHING wrong with the Samsung add. American commercials and ad are far more suggestive and se xual. The woman in the red dress is smiling and in a neutral pose. Anyway studies have shown that the majority of men tend to buy the newest, largest, and most expensive TV sets, NOT women. If anything the dress should have been tighter to accentuate the curves of the model, cause the whole purpose of the add is to sell the curved television.
on April 7,2014 | 10:03AM
2disgusted2 wrote:
I'm sorry if this seems racist, but coming from an Asian woman.. It shouldn't! It is VERY Asian! Pan Asian! This is what the women flooding Hawaii from the PRC, from the Phillipines, from the Koreas market themselves as.. EVEN if they hold high level executive positions, like the Chinese woman I keep complaining about! Giggle, flash breasts, mince in front of superiors and inferiors and then like Dragon ladies demand divorces, support, while holding on to their husbands! These are the very women who will go out and buy that Samsung, because that is their fantasy!
on April 7,2014 | 10:08AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Giggle, flash breasts, mince in front of superiors and inferiors...

You say that like it's a bad thing.

on April 7,2014 | 11:00AM
medigogo wrote:
Hey brah, who is that she? Did she divorce you? Give some hint, please.
on April 7,2014 | 02:09PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I, for one, see no problem with breast advertising. The Star Ad agrees. See "Hottie of the Week", "Tats & Tanlines" and other great sections of the paper.

I mean...Hottie of the Week?....seriously?

on April 7,2014 | 10:59AM
loquaciousone wrote:
She would have been really hottie if it wasn't for the Yakuza signs on her right arm.
on April 7,2014 | 03:43PM
lee1957 wrote:
Does this mean Samsung might come out with a breast phone?
on April 7,2014 | 11:45AM
cojef wrote:
"What difference does it make!" Famous words espoused by a noted Government official.
on April 7,2014 | 02:24PM
iwanaknow wrote:
Keep your eyes focused on the head, not the chest or anything else.
on April 7,2014 | 02:52PM
Latest News/Updates
Political Radar
`My side’

Political Radar
‘He reminds me of me’

Bionic Reporter
Needing a new knee

Warrior Beat
Monday musings

Small Talk
Burning money

Political Radar
On policy

Warrior Beat
Apple fallout