For years and years, women have been suffering stereotypical portrayals in the media. Women are objectified, are being used as an attractive element and a complementary decoration in any line of products’ advertisements. This is the lore of commercials. Even if it has nothing to do with females, a beautiful one never ceases to exist.
With the many hideous harassment cases that have surfaced in the past few years, one was hopeful this direction would alter. Social media users have been calling out a society that has helped in spreading a culture of harassment and silence. Initiatives and viral hashtags were spearheaded, aiming at catalyzing change and protecting women as they attempt to combat sexual harassment and catcalling.
With a roster of achievements and a noticeable surge regarding that matter, there came a new piece of advertisement that slapped us in the face, bringing us many steps back as well as sparking rage and controversy online. Apparently, the Citroen car boasts a variety of features, but this is not the only info we got upon seeing the ad. In case you missed the whole ongoing fiasco, here’s what happened and our take on it.
In the new Citroen advertisement, Egyptian Superstar Amr Diab appears in an extravagant car model, showing off the high-tech features of the vehicle. Later, we see a close call when the car almost hits a woman. As the woman looks frightened and in distress, that’s when the ad decided to leverage the situation, showing off one of the car’s features. A situation we couldn’t just turn a blind eye to.
We don’t see an apology or even any sign of regret. We see Amr Diab happily using the newly introduced feature (the ability to take pictures through the front camera of the car) to take a picture of the woman who was on the verge of getting hit by a car and send the picture to his phone. But is that kind of behavior normal, or anywhere near accepted?
There are so many things we can say have gone wrong with Citroen’s new ad. So many questions that we need to raise. But most importantly, why did the creative team decide that the most efficient way to bring attention to the feature was by taking pictures of random women crossing the streets, without their consent, under the guise of charm and romance?
How in 2021 are we still seeing an ad that doesn’t only use such archaic methods of objectifying women but is actually normalizing invading privacies and harassing women in broad light? As if there weren’t enough means by which people can harass and offend women; now a huge car company is trying to sell us on the car by telling the audience that a new feature can now help them invade women’s privacy more easily.
Normalizing such a situation, wherein a megastar does something that is questionable but ends up getting a positive result is an outdated concept. What is the message they were trying to convey here? Just because a celebrity is doing this doesn’t, by any means, justify the actions we can categorize as pure harassment, that we saw in the ad.
The camera feature installed on the front mirror is primarily used to document accidents and photograph cars exceeding the speed limit; however, it was promoted as a means to photograph and get beautiful girls to fall in love with the male driver. Watching something like that cast in a positive light defeats the entire concept of women empowerment we have been trying so hard to instill.
The new Citroen ad has caused a wave of mass disappointment, with people calling out the ad and asking for its removal. It’s demeaning, provocative and a public call for harassment, some might say. Some have even criticized Amr Diab himself, for appearing in what they call a complete farce.
Citroen has published an official statement apologizing for an ad that has caused any disturbance or has upset the audience, acknowledged why this part of the film might have been interpreted negatively by the community, as well as removed the commercial from all their social media account and channels.