Because they’re pink, and we’re girls, and it’s what we do…

Percy Pig Sweets - FOR CHILDREN

With apologies to


By Lucy Lawrence

Marks and Spencer is facing its toughest crisis since the recession after it emerged company bosses had been ‘locked’ in 1958 for 52 years.
Some of the firm’s top managers were dragged literally kicking and screaming into the 21st century yesterday before being wrestled into straight-jackets by burly paramedics and sedated with heavy tranquilisers.
Problems began when a customer wrote to the company to complain that its latest advertising campaign was ‘patronising drivel which insults me as a woman and everything I stand for’.
The ad, featuring a well-known television actor who probably can afford to shop at much more expensive shops than M&S, insinuates women in the year 2010 are simpering Stepford wives who have no place in the world except for the kitchen where they all gorge on vile pink sweets before getting the crackling just right for their Very Important husbands.
One paramedic who was at the scene said: “It was terrible to watch. As we rolled them out in their pin-striped suits and bowler hats they couldn’t stop staring at my female colleague and asking why she wasn’t at home looking after her children.”
Sue Bloggs, the complainer who started all the trouble said: “I received a letter back from one of the bosses who said that as I had the time to write to him to complain I was obviously not a traditional 1950s housewife. He went on to presume that with all this spare time on my hands I must be some sort of ‘well-upholstered’ film actress and would I like to meet him at the Dorchester one lunchtime?”
Emma Moore, a lifelong shopper from Lewisham, said: “I have been a shopper all my life but not at M&S. Because I find the clothes really old-fashioned and hideous. Because I find the food very expensive compared to other supermarkets and because my local branch isn’t really any good anyway. BUT MAINLY JUST BECAUSE I HATE THE BLOODY PATRONISING ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS WHICH HAVE NO RELEVANCE TO ME OR MY FAMILY.”


7 responses to “Because they’re pink, and we’re girls, and it’s what we do…

  1. Patronising indeed! the cheek of it!
    and I agree who wants to dress in M&S clothes.
    I don’t think I’ll ever get old enough for that.

  2. Here is my letter to M&S complaining about the ad in question:

    Dear Steven Sharp,
    I am writing to complain about the current Marks & Spencer television campaign featuring Caroline Quentin.
    I was extremely disappointed that you chose to run the line, “Because they’re pink, and I’m a girl, and that’s what girls do”. ‘Girls’ (she’s a woman, by the way, not a girl) eat pink sweets, because that’s what girls do? Please. It’s reductive, and patronising, and an insult to women’s intelligence. I was very, very surprised to hear it coming from a company such as M&S.
    I would have thought Marks & Spencer, with its ethical credentials, reputation and customer base, would be able to resist such lazy gender stereotyping. I’m extremely disappointed to find that this is not the case.
    I look forward to hearing back from you.
    Yours sincerely,
    Melissa Harrison

    And here is their deeply patronising reply:

    Dear Melissa,
    I was sorry to read that you were disappointed by that particular line from our Food ad. It was not meant to be taken in any other way than purely tongue in cheek.
    You might be interested to know that most of the production team who worked on the ad are women – all of whom felt that the line was appropriate within the overall context.
    I do appreciate your feedback and take all comments I receive very seriously.
    Kind regards,
    Jennifer Scott, for Steve Sharp

    I couldn’t let that one go, obviously:

    Dear Jennifer and Steven,
    Thank you for getting back to me so quickly.
    I don’t mean to be rude, but by saying the line in question is ‘tongue in cheek’ you are rather missing the point.You say you ‘take all the comments you receive very seriously’, but by brushing off my concerns in this manner it seems to me that, in fact, you don’t.
    Furthermore, saying (in effect) ‘nobody else minds but you’ is also no way to demonstrate that you are taking a customer complaint seriously. And you may find that, despite the reported feelings of the women whom you say worked on the ad (all of whom, I’m sure, were individually and neutrally canvassed as to their views, which is why you can say with such confidence that none of them minded it), I am very far from alone in finding such gender stereotyping objectionable. In fact, when I raised the question on the PinkStinks Facebook page, the response I got was (I quote), “I think EVERYONE on here is bothered by it…”. Do you not think that the views of these women – intelligent, educated, a key Marks & Spencer demographic – are worth hearing?
    Should you require more information as to why the constant identification of women and girls with the colour pink is infantilising and should be resisted, PinkStinks can doubtless fill you in much better than I can:
    With very best wishes,
    Melissa Harrison

  3. I’m in Canada so haven’t seen the ad but the dialogue quoted here is hideous. Gender stereotyping makes me nauseous – not an appealing selling tool! If the ad production team was all cool with it they need to get out of their little marketing bubble more. They seem to think they can insult their customers and expect to have said customers laugh along.

    “Furthermore, saying (in effect) ‘nobody else minds but you’ is also no way to demonstrate that you are taking a customer complaint seriously.”

    Completely agree. I hope Ms. Scott takes the opportunity to educate herself on this issue.

  4. Here’s my letter and response from M&S:

    Dear Steven Sharp,

    I am writing to complain about the current Marks & Spencer television campaign featuring Caroline Quentin.

    I was gobsmacked to hear the opening line “Because they’re pink, and I’m a girl, and that’s what we do.”

    Given Marks and Spencers remarkably successful marketing campaigns in recent years which have re-vitalised what was generally seen as a tired, stuffy, out-dated department store, I find it incredible you have decided to regress to promoting M&S with such 1950s sentiments.

    This ad is deeply patronising and insulting, and whilst you expect it from certain brands or media, I certainly expect more from M&S. I am extremely disappointed and hope you will give more consideration in future to the messages you are sending out.

    I look forward to your response,

    Jen Botting

    Dear Jennifer,

    Firstly, thank you for taking the time to write in to me.

    I’m sorry to hear that you were disappointed by our most recent Food ad. I have noted your comments and fed these back to the team who worked with me on the ad and we will of course bear these in mind when working on our next campaign.

    I take all comments that I receive very seriously and again, apologise for causing any offence.

    Kind regards,

    Executive Director, Marketing

  5. Well done, Jen, good work! I can’t help feeling we’re still being fobbed off, though…

  6. Clearly it’s the same old stock response. A disgraceful reaction from a company that is surviving on its reputation alone.

  7. I think we should start on the Dulux ad next. Planning for a boy / football / name Sam but shock horror its a girl – have to repaint the room a hideous pink colour…..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s