The Sexist Sell


If there’s one thing more unpalatable than a Pot Noodle itself, it’s their recent ad campaign.

Before we go any further, take a look at the advert in question…


Now I know what you’re thinking, “But Aidan, microwavable meals and totally unashamed misogyny go together so well; I can’t believe they’ve never thought to do it before!” Ah, ye of little faith, you underestimate those clinically confirmed Mad Men from Unilever, the company behind Pot Noodle. They are no strangers to controversy, after their 2013 ad, which included a woman stripping on a bus and the tagline, ‘peel the top off a hottie,’ was banned by the Advertising Standards Agency. Even the titles of their older, award winning (yes you read that right, award winning) adverts, ‘Hysterical Girlfriend’ and ‘Seedy Sanchez’ should set alarm bells ringing.

Many supporters of the adverts say that they’re just cheeky. Let’s take a moment to consider that argument… right moment over! That didn’t take long did it? Calling your dad ‘Old Man’ is cheeky, nicking the last biscuit from the tin is cheeky, pretending to be a towel so bikinied women will sit on your face is a call to be put on some sort of register (or it’s the plot for American Pie 9; I always get those two mixed up).

Whilst equality for women is gradually improving in most professions and aspects of life (with the emphasis very much on ‘gradually’), the advertising industry seems to be bucking the trend, with a noticeable increase in sexism in recent times. It is almost as if advertisers think that the way to be heard over the white noise of their many competitors, is to continually push the boundaries of decency and taste.

You know that churning feeling you got in the pit of your stomach as you watched the ad? It wasn’t disgust due to the blatant sexism, neither was it the sickening thought of eating a Pot Noodle (I really hate Pot Noodles), it was, in fact, the earthquake tremors of Mrs. Pankhurst spinning, at near pneumatic drill speeds, in her grave.

In the interest of fairness, I should point out that Pot Noodle is not the only culprit here; Bud Light, Nandos and Kinder Bueno, to name a few, have all been accused of having sexist adverts. The last of which involves women ogling a man’s posterior (there’s no way to make that sentence sound serious, so I went with the most Dickensian words I could think of). However, these adverts pale in comparison to the vulgarity of Unilever’s latest offering.

Of course the irony is, that this article has quite possibly given you a sudden craving for these products. Perhaps that was the point of the ads all along. After all, ‘any publicity is good publicity,’ right? If that is the case, then expect to see plenty more ‘misogyny meals’, ‘sexist snacks’ and ‘no equality nibbles’ hitting the shelves in the near future. That is unless, in all seriousness, we, as consumers, take an active decision to stop buying these items. Will that work? Hard to say, but as Pot Noodles, lager, Nandos and chocolate, collectively make up what many students refer to as their ‘balanced diet’, I reckon it’s worth a shot.

Sex sells, so they say, but sexism shouldn’t.

Feature Image courtesy of Graham Richardson.

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Discussion2 Comments

  1. avatar

    Hey Aidan. Speaking of sex selling, have you seen a picture of Christabel Pankhurst recently? Phwooooaaaaar. That’s how you get the vote. Just for the record, that’s you seeing a picture recently, not seeing a recent picture. I suspect she’s gotten a little decomposed.

    (Also for the record: nothing I just wrote).

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