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Bits and pieces: The demeaning new ads from Reebok

Date: December 10, 2009 | Posted By:
View Reebok's problematic new commercials below

View Reebok's problematic new commercials below

What’s the first thing a woman wants you to notice when you meet her? Is it her smile, her eyes, or perhaps her sparkling wit or charm? Not according to Reebok–at least judging from their latest ads.

It’s no coincidence that in most of these ads, the woman herself is never seen except in bits and pieces. After all, that’s apparently how Reebok sees women: as just boobs and legs, with no pesky identity to distract from the pretty picture.

The first of these ads shows a perky young brunette who seems determined to explain the scientific basis for the benefit the shoes claim to provide, yet is constantly distracted by the cameraman focusing on her well-toned butt. Does this bother the young lady? Of course not, she is properly flattered by the objectifying gaze of the camera! After all, what woman doesn’t want to have men more focused on her butt than on a single word she is saying?

But wait–it gets worse!

Another ad shows a pair of toned legs, writhing sensuously on a bed, while the announcer recites the benefits of the new toning technology of the shoes. “88% of men will be speechless, 76% of women jealous, and 0% will know the reason is on your feet…Better legs and a better butt with every step.”

This ad simply focuses on the age-old idea of women’s self-improvement being simply another way to catch a man’s eye. Disgusting, of course, but nothing new.

But wait–it gets even worse!

The final ad in the new series doesn’t settle for encouraging objectification from men, or even jealousy from other women. No, now it’s time to make a woman’s body jealous of itself! The final ad shows a close up of a woman’s breasts, with a voiceover claiming to be the voice of the breasts. The breasts, the voice claims, are jealous of the attention that the butt is now receiving, after the unseen woman in the ad began using the new Reebok shoes:

It’s no coincidence that in most of these ads, the woman herself is never seen except in bits and pieces. After all, that’s apparently how Reebok sees women: just boobs and legs, with no pesky intelligence or career to distract from the pretty picture.

Reebok may have silenced the women in their advertisements, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t speak up! Let Reebok know what you think by contacting them:

E-mail: corporate@reebok.com

or send a letter to

Katrin Ley
Head of Brand Strategy, Business Development and Women’s
Reebok International
1895 JW Foster Blvd.
Canton, MA 02021

–Elizabeth




What Do You Think?

14 Responses to Bits and pieces: The demeaning new ads from Reebok

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  3. Reagan on 12-10-2009

    And if I'm not mistaken, Reebok released a statement saying that the shoes were not to be used in agility-related activities, or side to side motions, etc. because of the way they were weighted.

    Perfect- an athletic shoe that's not for athletics!!
  4. Dannis Cole on 12-10-2009

    No commercial should exploit women in this way. Reebok should know better! I am totally offended by these new commercials. I totally agree with the author!
  5. A B O U T – F A C E — blog » Bits and pieces: The demeaning new ads from Reebok « DanniStories Stories on 12-10-2009

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  6. A different analysis on 12-11-2009

    The only people upset about this commercial are probably those who are NOT what these commercials champion-physically fit, attractive women. Reebok is no more responsible for the content of these ads than the societal values that it reflects. They are merely showing people what they think they want to see. So at the end of the day, its the majority who finds this acceptable, and what the minority, those who can't "fit in" as unacceptable.

    I'll assume that if you were that fit, your self-esteem would probably have kept you from posting.
  7. Elizabeth on 12-11-2009

    On the contrary: I'm all for fitness. I love some of the Nike ads that have come out in recent years.

    But as stated in the comments above, the shoes cannot even be used for many exercises.

    And most importantly, fitness is not what these Reebok ads are about. They stress the male gaze and the objectification of the female body.
  8. A different analysis on 12-11-2009

    The consumers will decide who's right and who's wrong.
  9. Tea on 12-11-2009

    Any ad that feeds off or a consumer's self esteem and need to be physically attractive is going to win, A-different-Analysis. That won't prove who's "right and who's wrong."

    It is upsetting that Reebok's ads don't highlight health and fitness as the goal for buying their products, but rather a look to please others. Elizabeth, I see your point in contrasting the ads with nike's recent ads which show strength and don't objectify women this way.

    Finally, an exercise shoe not for use while exercising? Absurd.
  10. sabrina on 12-12-2009

    'A different analysis'--

    "The only people upset about this commercial are probably those who are NOT what these commercials champion-physically fit, attractive women...So at the end of the day, its the majority who finds this acceptable, and what the minority, those who can’t “fit in” as unacceptable."

    This is incorrect. First of all, it is the minority of people who fit that kind of look, so following your logic, the majority of people would find these ads unacceptable.

    I actually think that how people react to these ads has little to do with what they look like. I don't have any problem with the way that the women in the commercial look, but the way they are looked AT.

    I don't think that these commercials "champion" physically fit women, I think they degrade them. These commercials tell me that Reebok thinks that asses are women's most important assets, and that women are there to be seen and not heard (and they better like it).

    Also, the second and third commercial focus only on certain parts of the women's bodies, and never focus on their faces. These women have no identities, and are again there to be looked at, not truly celebrated.

    And making a woman's boobs explain how jealous they are of her butt is probably the worst commercial idea I've ever heard.

    There are other companies that make these kinds of shoes--without the awful advertising. I would buy a pair from them instead of Reebok if I wanted some.
  11. mariesa on 12-13-2009

    i remember sitting on my couch one day and all of the sudden an ad was talking about boobs not getting attention because of a nice butt. i couldnt believe my eyes i was so disgusted. then i found out it was an ad for sneakers! tv is going to far i hate watching it. everything in the media is sex and size.
  12. Jess on 12-13-2009

    Well, you know what they say, when you assume you make an ass out of you and me.

    Thanks for posting that corporate email.. I just sent them one telling them how happy I am that I don't have cable since I don't want my sons and daughters to grow up thinking that a woman's worth is in her 10% body fat, her flawless skin, or even that exercise is only important to make sure every man who looks at you immediately drools all over himself. (In fact, when that really happens, it's quite disgusting.)

    Exercise is important to keep us healthy, energetic, and strong. I think it is the exact opposite of health to promote sex in this ad and many others considering how unsafe casual sex really is.

    This ad is selling the unrealistic belief that if you exercise you will suddenly turn into a supermodel.

    What a silly thing to say that the majority find this acceptable. The majority of people who I have ever seen in my entire life do NOT look like that and I live in an area with some fine looking people. You know what? The best looking ones are the snottiest. I would hate it for my children to grow up to act like them. I assume the author of that ludicrous post isn't the most down-to-earth person on the planet either.

    This site is about getting real and there is nothing real about your tits being jealous of your ass.
  13. Lorraine Manifold on 12-15-2009

    I am also very offended by these ads.
    Women are human beings, not sexual objects.
    Whether women are portrayed almost naked like this or wether they are covered up from head to toe by a burka, it's the same thing. They are considered as sex objects, not dignified human beings with a character, qualities, accomplishments, and above all, a soul.
  14. Kelly Maximum on 12-16-2009

    Great ad!
    If the shoe if designed to work the butt and thighs then of course they would wanna advertise healthy butt and thighs. And the boob one is funny. Plenty of woman discuss each others boobs/ass as attractive as well as men. Its natural.