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CHICKS SELL CARS, NOT DRIVE THEM. DUH

Come on. It’s time to fess up. We women like nothing more than lounging sexily on the bonnet of a car.

Sometimes I’ll wear a teeny-weeny bikini. Or a tight-fitting cocktail dress. Today, it’s pyjamas and ugg boots.

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You have to admit it: My Mazda 3 has never looked better.

Well, it must be true. Look at the fun and fabulous car ads over the years.

corvetteMy favourite is the model in a mini-dress and thigh-high boots trying to mount a Corvette: autoeroticism personified.

The tradition lives on at this week’s New York Auto Show.

And, at the recent Chicago car show where the promo line was, “Cool cars and sexy women go together like peanut butter and jelly”. Sounds sticky. Maybe they want us to smear ourselves in the spread before posing on the car?

Or perhaps it’s wordplay using ‘spread’? Either way, it’s appalling – and ironic.
The video promoting the show features a male host introducing, “Nicole, our new technology editor”, before cutting back to the “hot chicks”.

Car companies are desperate to attract women because we make around 65 per cent of all new car purchases. Our buying power increases as the gender pay gap decreases.
In the US, more women drive than men. Yet car advertising has barely budged from the 1970s.

To be fair, there was one backlash. This Subaru ad from a 1974 issue of Ms. Magazine reads, “I drove the Subaru without a man telling me how… and I wrote this ad the same way”.

Now, retro sexism is the new black. An ad for the BMW Premium Selection of used cars shows a female face with the seductive tagline, “You know you’re not the first”.

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One guy uses a sexy picture of his 20 year-old daughter (yes, you read that right) to sell his 1977 Datsun.

As Dominic Rushe writes in his review of the Detroit auto show in The Guardian, “What other major industry so blatantly ignores the fact that half its customers are women? Sure, sex sells, but there are two of them, you know”.

Where are all the smokin’ hot blokes? Oh, that’s right. They’re busy running the show, writing the ads, or driving the cars. Silly me.

It’s like cycling. Men are paid a lot of money to ride their bikes up a mountain; women are paid a little bit of money to wait at the bottom. Which brings me to this week’s groping incident at the Tour of Flanders.

If you missed it, second-placed Peter Sagan pinched the bottom of one of the so-called podium girls. The response was swift: Jane Aubrey, editor of Australian website Cycling News, tweeted, “Anyone excusing Sagan’s behaviour due to his age needs to think again. In the work place it is called harassment”.

 

peter-sagan-tour-of-flandersPhoto: Getty Images via TheTelegraph.co.uk.
 

What Peter Sagan did was disgusting. He has since apologised. But it highlights a wider issue: women as eye candy.

One cycling executive, commercial manager of the Tour of Britain Alistair Grant, tells Jezebel.com, “Their role is not to stand there and look pretty… they help the riders to put the presentation jerseys on”.

Oh, poor boys, can’t even manage to dress themselves! Of course they need a little lady to do all of those menial tasks.

In the comments section of the Cycling News website, Saromero admits this represents a “misogynist era”, but says, “I do not want the podium girls to go away because I honesty believe that women represent beauty. Just like men could represent the image of a warrior…”

Why can’t women be the warriors? Why isn’t our sporting prowess valued? And why aren’t men lauded for their physical beauty?

It cuts both ways. Every time I’m at the rugby league, AFL or basketball, I turn away at the sight of cheerleaders. I hope to live to see the day when 90,000 people come to see women playing sport and men shaking pom poms.

As the daughter of a motor racing fan, I spent much of my childhood at the track. I was perplexed by the presence of scantily-clad women. Do they make the cars go faster? Are they going to put on a performance? What are they selling?

Oh, that’s right: themselves.

Perhaps market forces will correct this. Carmakers are trying to court women and Gen Y.

But I don’t know too many sassy 20 year-olds who’d buy a car with a half-naked woman on top. Unless it’s me, of course, selling my 2009 Mazda.

Any takers…?

 

 

MORE ARTICLES BY TRACEY SPICER

Women. Bloody Asking For It

I’ll Have it All, Thanks

This Lesson Brought to You by…

Not an Alcoholic… Yet

Dear Mr Sexist

 

*Tracey Spicer is a respected journalist who has worked for many years in radio, print and television.
Channel Nine and 10 news presenter and reporter; 2UE and Vega broadcaster; News Ltd. columnist; Sky News anchor …it’s been a dream career for the Brisbane schoolgirl with a passion for news and current affairs.
Tracey is a passionate advocate for issues as diverse as voluntary euthanasia, childhood vaccinations, breastfeeding, better regulation of foreign investment in Australia’s farmland, and curtailed opening hours for pubs and clubs. She is an Ambassador for World Vision, ActionAid, WWF, the Royal Hospital for Women’s Newborn Care Centre and the Penguin Foundation, Patron of Cancer Council NSW and The National Premmie Foundation, and the face of the Garvan Institute’s research into pancreatic cancer, which killed her beloved mother Marcia 11 years ago. But Tracey’s favourite job, with her husband, is bringing up two beautiful children – six-year-old Taj and five-year-old Grace. Visit Tracey’s website at www.spicercommunications.biz or follow her on Twitter @spicertracey.

 

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28 Comments

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    RFI Smith

    Awful phenomenon. But women are selling cars as salespeople too. First struck an all woman sales team in Brisbane nearly 20 years ago–did not buy the car but was impressed by the pitch. Had they been selling the make we preferred we would have got it from them.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    jo

    Yes, yes and YES!! Remember that Fiat billboard from the 1970’s? If it were a lady, it would get its bottom pinched. And the fabulous graffiti underneath: If this lady was a car she’d run you down.
    Ah dear, women are still fighting the same old battles. Where’s the BMW ad been placed, Tracey? We could at least write to BMW expressing our disgust.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Sandy

    I’m at a loss as to the meaning of that BMW tagline. I mean I get the pornulation of the woman aspect of it. You know you’re not the first to use her as a toilet, but do you really care? But what does this mean with regard to the car? Is it second hand? Is it that BMW have manufactured so many of these so called prestige cars that you shouldn’t care if every Todd and Rupert in your street also has one parked in his driveway?

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Finnola

    The figures have changed slightly – but not much – more men spend more on their car than women.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Dee

    Tracey Spicer, you read my mind. Thanks for another great article.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Alex M

    The male perspective. Firstly, I’m kind wondering about a Mazda 3 ….
    Secondly – it only looks like the mad men are missing their demographic – and that would not be mysogynistic, it’s just sloppy work. So, I’m surprised that sales analysis doesn’t show the resultant poor return on investment. maybe it doesn’t?
    Thirdly – Warriors? In lycra and shaved legs? Spare me! Which brings me to weekend cyclists riding 10 abreast (no pun intended) and the annoyingly strict gun control laws in this country…. sigh.
    Fourth and Last. Yeah, girls on cars seems sad and old, but it’s been part of the bling for so long it’s almost art. Andy Warhol has come and gone too, but it all harks back to a bygone era and I can still recall the Makita ads for drills, for God’s sake, and my teenage brain thinking “Maybe if I buy that drill, I too ….”
    There you have it – it’s puberty! At once inspirational and aspirational. And THAT is the demographic they are pursuing.
    Now, where is my drill?

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Carma1472

    Amazing when you think women now purchase 60% of all new cars and decide in 85% of all new car purchases. At least our Motor Show in Australia has died.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Mattheworbit

    This is such a frustrating phenomenon. It’s so bizarre though, on the other side, you have to wonder – are men seriously stupid enough to buy something because the company paid a beautiful woman to stand and be a “symbol of beauty/lust/whatever”?

    I have just as much of a problem with ads like the Philadelphia cream cheese ad, where the woman in the ad has men around for eye candy, and smacks them on the bottom – surely this is still plainly sexism.

    Sadly, even when there are “warrior women” portrayed in advertising these days, they seem to be there to titillate, or to still be portrayed through the twisted lens of desirability. Rarely is about empowerment, or even personality.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Rhoda

    Totally hate car show rooms. It’s a culture of its own. Men don’t know how to talk cars to women or maybe it’s the other way round. I think it’s because men have close personal relationships with their cars and understand them better.

    A woman has to walk in with a purpose and dress for business – heels clacking – and make like your Gina Rinehart’s personal assistant. You can’t act as if you’re ready to fling yourself on the bonnet. Not that any of us would but what would a car salesman know.

    And make sure you only negotiate on the drive out the door price and know the trade in value.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Robyn

    the most disturbing aspect of the BMW ad is that the model appears to be very young.

    • Reply April 5, 2013

      Benison O'Reilly

      Yes, I thought that too. She looks like a teenager, the sort of girl my sons would be dating, and they’d more likely be in the market for a 15 year old Nissan not a BMW. Creepy old men behind that ad. Ew.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Brash

    Love it. I went looking for car ads with male models. I found one. Just one. It was for the SKODA Citigo (VW Up!).

    I recently bought my first turbo sports car. Guess who made the choice to buy? The Wife, of course. She also chose our last new car, and the one before that. None of the dealers involved would have got a penny if they treated her like car manufacturers portray women.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    MichelleD

    And the trend isn’t restricted to automobiles alone. Flicking through the Australian Golf Digest, I was affronted by a bikini clad female professional golfer arranged provocatively with the latest ‘brand’ drivers (that’s a golf club – not someone who drives a car in this context!).

    Pardon me, but (for balance) where is Carmilo Villegas in his spiderman pose wearing only trunks, muscles rippling tantalisingly, advertising the latest putters. I think that’d not only get the ladies buying, but also a good number of gentlemen whose personal preference doesn’t extend to ‘the ladies’!

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    sami

    This has always given me the irrits. I don’t even attend Motorvation any more because I am just not interested in the parades of women in their outfits, the beauty pageants, etc (PowerCruise used to be awesome but is heading in that direction now too). I want to see cars at a car show. That is all. I also don’t buy car magazines for the same reason. If there were no sexist drivel and women draped over cars I would gladly buy the car mags but nope.

    That BMW ad is just sleazy.
    Sandy, it is advertising their second hand dealerships. The ad implies that the woman is not a virgin and neither is the car you’re buying but both are still ‘driveable’, so lucky you Mr Car-Buyer-Man. I’ve seen another ad in the series and it’s even worse than that one.

    Sigh.
    I am getting serious feminist burnout.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    John Cadogan

    When you go to a high-level car company function, say, a dealer conference, the only women (statistically) there are the wives – they go off and get facials while the blokes discuss, you know, high level stuff. (I have been to dozens of car industry insider’s functions as a consultant.) The decision makers are generally fat blokes in their 60s who think the world is still coal-fired and Dickensian. (Or at least trapped in the 1970s when they were still young and virile, and sex sold everything – even chocolate milk.)
    The women/car-buying dynamic is really simple: Tracey is right when she says 65 per cent of purchases involve women. This is made up of a) women buying cars alone, and b) women as one half of a couple jointly buying the car. This second group is the most interesting of the two: typically, the man derives a short list of acceptable cars, and the woman gets the right of veto over any or all of them, which can stem from a variety of influences men are often blindsided by (such as the salesman talking only to the bloke and failing to acknowledge the female’s presence, or umbrage at sexist marketing, etc.)
    Car companies need to wake up to women (and so do dealerships, which are typically privately owned franchised businesses). Unfortunately this will happen only when there are more women up the pointy end of the grossly male-dominated car industry – so don’t hold your breath.
    My advice to you chicks: vote with your feet, because in this business, money talks.
    John Cadogan
    http://www.AutoExpert.com.au
    Motoring expert for Today Tonight, Sunrise and Radio 2UE.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Tracey

    Hey, thanks for your expert comments, John. Saddened, in a way, that my frustration is warranted!

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Gracie123

    A young female relative worked in as a promotional assistant for a car company for several motor shows around Australia. She was required to wear stilletos, and be on her feet for 12hrs per day, every day. No appeal for different shoes for OH & S reasons was accepted ( now WH&S). It was painful. Her real profession is not a stable one, and work is work. Her job was basically to sell cars. This young lady is highly intelligent, personable, and has initiative. She sold many cars around Australia, including, at one show, a fleet of cars. She was paid an hourly rate as a promotions person. When she sold a car she had to refer the person to a sales person(males) who wrote the sale up got the commission for the sale. Even when a customer requested she get the commission she had to tell them she was unable to, that she was paid hourly. Several years later, she found out she should have got a portion of the commission on every car where she was the person who ‘made’ the sale. While working on and off in promotions there were some she would not do, that she felt were demeaning. She wore a dress and high heels provided by the car company for the car shows , and would never have done it wearing a bikini or skin tight lycra bodysuit.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    ro.watson

    Your mazda 3 looks great with you on it Tracey.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Gracie123

    Forgot to say….. You are spot on Tracey! Hate this practice and the BMW ad is sick.

    Promotional assistants, people, models are both male and female, and do many varied things. They are often young people trying to break into show business, and can fit promotional work around classes,auditions, etc. They’re also highly likely to be serving you in cafes bars and restaurants.

  • Reply April 5, 2013

    miranda

    “One guy uses a sexy picture of his 20-year-old daughter (yes, you read that right) to sell his …” – thought you were talking about Tony Abbott for a moment!

  • Reply April 5, 2013

    Nel Matheson

    As a long- term and ageing feminist, I have longed for the demise of”eye candy” girls in the motoring industry in general. It’s also a must have in most male dominate professional sports. What would the Tour de France be without the girls in all the colours of the winning jerseys, love the polka dot ones in particular. Football of all codes require teams of lovelies in butt-uncovering shorts and tight tops, often teamed with boots of astonishingly retro styles. The dance moves bring back memories of seventies discos. Car shows, formula one racing, anything to do with motors attached to two or four wheels require squads of gorgeous young women dressed up to the nines draped, pole holding, trophy minding, placard waving, and generally adding colour and movement. The industry behind these lasses is mind- boggling. Did any girl, ever, see her future mapped out as a flag-holder at a Formula One event? Career prospects nil. Maybe it’s a fill-in job while pursuing studies. God I do hope so. They are lovely young women, all of them – in the wrong place!

  • Reply April 5, 2013

    Loz

    I believe Peter Sagan’s apology was ‘I’m sorry if anyone was offended’ rather than I’m sorry for acting like a tool and offending this woman”. In other words he’s sorry that there are people that take offence to such behaviour and he’s not actually apologising for his bad behaviour.

    I’ve noticed that in recent years this has become the standard apology with the likes of Alan Jones and Kyle Sandilands using the format. Makes it pointless in my eyes.

  • Reply April 5, 2013

    Gabrielle

    Last year my student son was a “promotional person” at the Sydney Motor Show on behalf of Nissan as they recognised the high percentage of women who make car purchasing decisions. While he enjoyed the experience (and the money!) he was by no means asked to do anything demeaning or uncomfortable like some of the female promotional staff he spoke to who worked for other car companies such as wear skimpy clothes and stillettos for 12 hours straight.. It’s astonishing to continue to see the Neanderthal behaviour of so many car companies – it’s marketing 101 to tap into the psychology of your target customer group, why target the 45%?

  • Reply April 6, 2013

    Catherine

    I’d like to point out the double standard applied to Peter Sagan. On the one hand there are two podium girls draped over the winner and kissing him. The girls are there as eye candy, Decorative purposes only. I agree its totally stupid and outmoded. . On the other hand the guys on the podium are not allowed to touch the girls put there fir their enjoyment or pinch a bottom. The whole situation is absurd and easily solved by removing the archaic tradition of women as eye candy on the winners podium. Peter Sagan must be perplexed at what set if rules he’s playing by, 1950s or 2013?

  • Reply April 6, 2013

    Lab ef

    Catherine I totally agree – the blond girl is not just giving the winner a token peck on the cheek, she has her whole body pushed up against him while he is trying to look un-fazed by the attention. He is probably wondering what his wife is going to say later if he is seen to show any reaction.

  • Reply April 7, 2013

    helen b

    Sold me Tracey! Yep…definitely the Mazda 3! Do the pyjamas and ugg boots come with it?

  • Reply April 8, 2013

    Margaretha Kozlowski

    No cheerleaders in AFL. Thank goodness!

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