Samsung: Sorry about that sexist show

In the wake of its slightly perturbing Galaxy S4 launch, Samsung accepts criticism of a South African presentation that featured, yes, swimsuited dancers.

Here's how photographer Axel Buhrmann tweeted from the show. @AxelBuhrmann/Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk, CNET

"Well, yes, maybe we do lack a little taste. Maybe. OK, if you really insist. But doesn't everyone like jokes about drunken women? Doesn't everyone like a booth babe or two, swimsuit or no swimsuit? No? Oh. Really?"

This might have been the inner monologue in certain areas of Samsung's vast collective cranium, after again falling foul of accusations of, well, giving a bad show.

You might not yet have forgotten (and my colleague Molly Wood certainly hasn't ) Samsung's touchingly misguided attempt to launch the very fine Galaxy S4 on a New York stage recently.

Well, just before that slightly difficult exercise, Samsung was launching a washing machine in South Africa.

There are many ways to do this. Perhaps Samsung went for the most tried, tested and positively alluring. Yes, it brought to the stage some "barely pubescent dancers shaking their stuff in swimsuits."

Of course, these are not my words. They are the words of South African tech site Girl Guides, which seems not to have been overly impressed with this pressing of the flesh, as captured and tweeted by one Axel Buhrmann.

Clearly, Samsung has thought about its attitudes very carefully over the past few days. For, as the Huffington Post reports, the company has now apologized.

Here is some text from the apology, penned by Michelle Potgieter, head of Samsung's marketing and communications in South Africa: "It has come to our attention that, following recent Samsung events, there was dissatisfaction by the use of the selected promotional/entertainment ladies to unveil and demonstrate the new line up of product/s."

"And what do you do for a living?"

"Oh, I'm a promotional/entertainment lady."

"Really?"

Please forgive me, that last piece of dialogue was my own internal musing of the post-event party conversation.

Now, back to the apology: "Samsung South Africa are committed to embracing a variety of consumers across our very diverse local market and in no way intended to isolate or offend any one of these audiences through these events."

So, secretly, women like to see booth babes strutting their stuff? Or didn't anyone wonder whether dancing girls really aren't the solution to all the world's problems?

Potgieter promised that Samsung South Africa "will endeavor to be more sensitive around these issues going forward and will raise all relevant matters with our Head Quarters and respective regional head offices accordingly."

Oddly, there was some thought that it was Samsung's headquarters that was actually responsible for the New York performance.

Indeed, the Verge reported that the producers of the show said that they had to get every element cleared by Samsung's HQ. (And there doesn't seem to have been any company apology for that extravaganza.)

Samsung has made great brand image progress -- particularly in the U.S.

However, some might think it's time that several members of Samsung's management were asked to lean in (as Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg might put it) and listen to the sounds of the changing world.

 

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