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Ad details

Type of Ad: Banners
Where seen: Cape Town International Airport
When seen: 8 March 2018 (International Women’s Day…)
Ad Product: Samsung Washing Machine, TV, Watch, Phone and Refrigerator
Ad Company: Samsung SA
Ad Details: 5 multi-story banners in the departure hall of Cape Town International Airport
depicting ads for Washing Machine, TV, Watch, Phone and Refrigerator
depicting a celebrity with the product, eg Bobby van Jaarsveld for Mobile
Phone, Cameron van der Burgh for TV, Maseo Maponyane for Watch, Reuben
Riffels for Refrigerator and Jo-Ann Strauss for Washing Machine (see images
page 4 onwards).

My complaint
Samsung SA is breaching s 3.5 of the Advertising Code of Practice by using Negative Gender
Portrayals.
All the Samsung products are advertised by Samsung SA’s official brand ambassadors and
according to Michelle Potgieter, Director of Brand and Communications at Samsung SA, “are all
leaders in their respective fields and Samsung South Africa is proud to be associated with them.”1
There is only one woman among the Samsung brand ambassadors, Jo-Ann Strauss, who in
Samsung SA’s words is “epitomising multi-functionality and sophistication in the Samsung
Business-to-Business (B2B) category, is a businesswoman, model, former Miss South Africa, a
mother as well as a champion for children’s rights” (see fn 1).
In the campaign I am complaining about, Ms Strauss is advertising the AddWash washing machine.
There is nothing in the Ms Strauss’ field of expertise and what she represents that makes her more
of a leader in being associated with a washing machine then any of the male brand ambassadors.
However, Samsung chooses to identify her both in this ad as the person who is responsible for
doing the laundry.
This is a classic case of ‘Negative Gender Portrayal’ advertising, “that portrays a person or persons
of a certain gender in a manner that restricts and entrenches the role of persons of such gender in
society or sections of society.”

1 http://www.sabusinessintegrator.co.za/news/333/industry-news/samsung-welcomes-new-brand-ambassadors

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It is especially so in contrast with the other banners alongside which show men with high tech
products that are gender neutral, ie a mobile phone, a TV and a watch.
The refrigerator, which is advertised by Reuben Riffels, does not relate to his gender but to the
reason for his celebrity status, ie being an “award-winning celebrity chef and restaurateur” with an
“an incredible talent and a genuine passion for food” (see fn 1).

The same does not apply for Ms Strauss.
The very reason that Samsung SA gives for what Ms Strauss epitomises as a brand ambassador, ao,
being a “mother as well as a champion for children’s rights” (and in other adverts referred to as the
“Modern Mummy” and also gets to give advice on home freezing2) is in itself a gender entrenching
portrayal that’s deeply disturbing and insulting to women and men.
Are none of the male brand ambassadors parents? How come they are not responsible for the
laundry (and the home freezing) and the ‘multi-functioning’ of having a career and a family? And is
it up to women to ‘champion children’s rights’?

My husband and I saw this ad at Cape Town International Airport on International Women’s Day
(note the irony) and we were appalled at the underlying assumptions regarding the role and ability
of each gender.
In a recent ASA ruling regarding a commercial, the ASA pronounced that ‘issues of gender equality
are topical and important. We see the international trend towards more thoughtful treatment of
gender stereotyping in advertising regulation as evidence of this.’3
The Samsung ads and portrayal of Ms Strauss are gender stereotyping in a way that entrenches the
role of South African women as the ones responsible for the household chores, even if they are as
successful in business as their male counterparts. Clearly Samsung needs to rethink how it
advertises its household products without contributing to gender inequality in South Africa.

The Samsung SA website does not give an email address, otherwise I would have emailed a copy of
the complaint to them.
Kindly note that I do not want my phone numbers or ID number to be shared with Samsung
SA, you are welcome to share my email and other details.

Yours sincerely

Ute Kuhlmann

2 http://www.samsung.com/za/news/local/quick-healthy-and-affordable-why-you-should-be-freezing-food/
3 http://www.asasa.org.za/rulings/5fmonlinetvlicense-jkaplan-2018-7243f

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