A bike supplier has been forced to take down an advertising campaign suggesting women need electric bikes to keep up with their boyfriends.
Pinarello’s advert appeared on Instagram announcing the launch of its electric road bike, Nytro, which provides electric assistance until a rider reaches 25km/h. But it fell well short of the mark, prompting outcries of sexism on social media.
The ad has since been taken down and the company has issued an apology on Twitter, saying the campaign “failed to reflect the values of diversity and equality that are core to Pinarello”.
“The Nytro is designed to make cycling accessible to more people and our advertisement clearly failed to convey that message,” they wrote. “We sincerely apologise and have pulled the ad.”
The offending advertisement, which appeared on Instagram, featured a photo of a 24-year-old woman called Emma with the caption: “I’ve always wanted to go cycling with my boyfriend but it seemed impossible. Soon everything will become possible.”
To add further insult to injury, the company was also quoted on Bicycle Retailer saying the Nytro has a wide target audience, “from the one that has no time to train but would never miss a weekend ride with friends, to women who would like to follow easily the men’s pace”.
The ad prompted a major backlash on Twitter, with Olympian cyclist Christine Majerus included saying she would be boycotting the company. Other cyclists joined in calling the company out.
The ad campaign also prompted professional cyclist and duathlon world champion Emma Pooley to pen an open letter to the company, saying “cycling is not a gender battle”.
She wrote on Instagram: “Dear @pinarello_official. I’ve always wanted to go cycling with people (guys and girls) even if they’re faster than me. And so I did. Without an e-bike. That’s how I got stronger...
“Nowadays, if the guys can’t keep up, they don’t get upset - because they don’t hold old-fashioned misogynistic gender stereotypes. And they know it’s good training.
“Cycling is not a gender battle. It is a tool for transport, freedom, mobilisation, recreation - and also a sport.
“You will sell more bikes with aspiration than with condescension.”
Even though sexist advertising is continually called out, it keeps rearing its ugly head. Just this week, a toothpaste advert featuring a near-naked model was banned for ‘objectifying women’. Meanwhile last Friday, a shoe advert was banned for being “sexually suggestive and degrading to women, and therefore likely to cause serious offence”.
It begs the question, what needs to be done to stop this from happening time and time again? Unfortunately, nobody seems to have an answer.
Gail Parminter, senior lecturer in Advertising and PR at University of Westminster, told HuffPost UK she’s unsurprised by the campaign.
“It’s 2017 - we have not progressed much,” she said. “I teach advertising and many of my students (including women) have outdated, stereotypical views on the role of women in society. Very few admit to being feminist and there is a trend to ask, ‘but what about men - they are becoming an oppressed group’.
“I try to bring gender issues into my teaching and hope the next generation of advertising creatives, planners and account teams do move things forward - because at the moment, we seem to be going backwards.”