Original advertisement: Toyota Australia advertises the Toyota Kluger at Thredbo Ski Resort in 2016.
The photograph of the advertisement was captured by Instagram user, Romy Krassenstein of Sydney.
This advertisement was released by Toyota in Australia in 2016 to promote the Toyata Kluger, which is equivalent to the Toyota Highlander in North America. In a miserably failed attempt, Toyota is trying to convey that the Kluger is a vehicle that offers something for everyone, similar to how a ski resort offers a variety of ski runs that cater to different abilities. Unfortunately, the way in which this company decided to portray this message is offensive and wrong. This banner hung at the Thredbo ski resort in New South Whales is a tone-deaf advertisement that exudes sexism by indicating that women can’t ski as well as men, while simultaneously endorsing heteronormativity, effectively excluding non-nuclear families from the ski resort.
The green circle, the blue square, and the black diamond are internationally known symbols that depict the difficulty of a ski and snowboard run. The green indicates an easy, or beginner level run. The blue indicates a level of moderate difficulty, and the black specifies the most difficult level. This advertisement stereotypes women as being less skilled skiers than men by indicating that the most difficult ski runs are meant for adult males, while women should stick to the easier runs. This is overt sexism; the message boils down to men being superior to women. Consider how frustrated all of those incredibly athletic, black diamond skiing mothers must have felt when being faced with this banner that categorizes and stereotypes female athletes. On the flip side, it is important to note that this advertisement is also sexist and hurtful towards men for implying that they should be better ski athletes than women. Think about how it would make a male beginner level skier feel to see this advertisement that tells them that they aren’t fulfilling the expectation that they be strong athletes. This advertisement is affirming stereotypical gender roles and norms by indicating that men and women should be and act a certain way. Ski runs have nothing to do with gender; they are easy, moderate, or difficult which are scales that do not correlate to gender in any way. When you think about it this way, it really shows how ludicrous this advertisement is.
This advertisement is also expressing the idea that ‘family’ means a traditional nuclear family with a mother, father and children who all conform to stereotypical gender norms. This is problematic because it excludes single parents, gay parents, transgender parents, and families that have more than two parents. A ‘family’ can mean a multitude of things, and that should be celebrated; however, this advertisement does quite the opposite by excluding the acknowledgment of non-traditional families at the resort. This advertisement is extremely problematic and is absolutely disheartening to see such blatant sexism when companies, especially leading international companies, should know better than to offend their potential client base with such politically incorrect and offensive messages.
My jammed version of this advertisement crosses out ‘kids’, ‘mom’, and ‘dad’ and replaces those words with the meaning of the ski symbols, and the phrase “options for everyone!” The jammed version aspires to reveal the sexism of the original ad by eliminating the assignment of genders to ski runs and aims to display inclusivity by not defining that a family can only mean kids, a mom, and a dad. I did not completely eliminate the words ‘kids’, ‘mom’, and ‘dad’ and chose to cross the words out with a bold, brightly coloured line because I wanted to highlight to the viewer just how ridiculous it is that gender was being compared to a scale of difficulty. The phrase “options for everyone!” indicates that the ski resort is inclusive to all as it has options for every person who wishes to visit. The phrase sends the same message that Toyota was originally trying to communicate, which is that the Kluger has something to offer to everyone, except it does so in a non-sexist way. These subtle sexist messages that are delivered to society via a multitude of advertisement mediums have the power to influence societal behavior which has the potential to have crippling effects on the fight for equality. Advertisement-jamming is a powerful platform for citizens to highlight these subtle, but extremely problematic messages in an easily digestible way. It is incredible that a world-renowned company would choose such a tasteless campaign that is so overtly offensive to women, especially in 2016. It’s as if they failed to consider the fact that women make up such a large proportion of their client base. Toyota, here’s a simple business strategy for you: stop offending your potential consumers!
The photograph of the original advertisement was captured by Instagram user, Romy Krassenstein of Sydney. Retrieved from https://www.smartcompany.com.au/marketing/advertising/toyota-faces-slippery-slope-after-skiing-ads-accused-of-discriminating-against-mums/