Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Canadian Union threatening boycott for sexist ad campaign

We've all probably heard about boycotts against companies that produce sexist ad campaigns. Some of them are even quite successful (think back to the early 90s when Sprite was using waif models, such as Kate Moss -- and thanks to the boycott, they switched their ad campaign to the later, funnier one making fun of celebraties endorsing products). But, when you think of these boycotts, who do you think of as promoting, even starting, them? Well, feminists, of course.

So, when a labor union of maintenance and trade workers in health care, as well as construction workers and heavy equipment operators threatens a boycott of a company due to a sexist ad campaign, well, ya gotta figure it's pretty sexist. And sure enough, it is.

Anger over a national billboard campaign has prompted the Manitoba Federation of Labour to call for a boycott of Terra Footwear, which sells protective boots.

The company's billboard ads depict women in lingerie in suggestive positions while wearing workboots.

The Web site of Terra Footwear also features a streaming video commercial for the boots featuring topless dancers.

Michael Alberg with the Operating Engineers of Manitoba, which represents maintenance and trade workers in health care, as well as construction workers and heavy equipment operators, says the ad campaign is offensive and sexually discriminatory.

His union has lodged a complaint with Terra Footwear.

"In the e-mail, it says we expect them to pull the ads immediately," he said.

"If they refuse to do that, we would be looking at a boycott not only locally, but nationally and perhaps North American-wide through the different labour congresses," said Alberg.

Alberg's union has the backing of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, which has more than 95,000 members.

The head of the federation, Robert Hilliard, says it may ask the Canadian Labour Congress to join in the boycott.

"I kind of thought that most companies would be a little more sensitive for exploiting women in that way to market construction boots, of all things," said Hilliard.

To see one of the billboard ads, go to the article. To see the video commercial, go here.

I always knew I liked unions. :D

Edited to add: It looks like the web commercial has been taken down, possibly by the server. If, however, it's a bandwidth issue or something and comes back up, it should be noted that this commercial contains extreme amounts of gratuitous nudity. I should have made that disclaimer from the beginning -- sorry about that.

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