Samsung remains to be the talk of the town in the past week, but this is not solely because of the amazing features of the Galaxy S4.
The South Korean company drew flak from its perceived sexist portrayal of women during the Galaxy S4 Launching in New York. Now, the company is again in the middle of a controversy as women’s groups slammed their recent launch of a range of fridges in Cape Town, South Africa. Why the criticisms? Apparently, the company used bikini-clad “barely pubescent” girls who oohed and aahed when the products were introduced.
The dancers also handed out water bottles while wearing the same skimpy outfits. The two launches didn’t sit quite well for some groups, even women journalists who covered the events. CNET editor Molly Wood called the New York Galaxy S4 Launching “shockingly sexist” because of its portrayal of women as technology illiterate and wedding-obsessed. Apparently, based on the New York launch, women are binge drinkers too.
When word reached Samsung (through an open letter posted on the gadget site Girl Guides), the South Korean company immediately issued an apology.
In a humorous open letter written by tech journalist Samantha Perry on the site, it asked the company to be more sensitive towards their female consumers, which represents about 50 percent of the company’s target market. She alleged the company is alienating a significant portion of its market, especially since women are consumers of its Galaxy S series of smartphones. The letter also reminded the company that 21st century women have salaries, jobs and budgets that enable them to purchase televisions, refrigerators and mobile phones.
Michelle Potgeiter, Samsung’s head of marketing and corporate communications, recognized in a statement the dissatisfaction arising from consumers because of the “selected promotional/entertainment ladies” used in the recent launch of products.
She said Samsung’s South Africa branch is embracing a diverse group of consumers, and in no way aims to isolate or offend any member of the audience. The statement apologized for the offense felt by women in general because of the portrayal of their gender during the launch. The company promised to be “more sensitive” around such issues in the future, adding that the concern will be raised to their headquarters and other regional offices.
The company just came out from a very bad PR following the New York launch of the Galaxy S4 on March 14. Although the smartphone has been received warmly by tech experts and by consumers in general, the launch still left a bad taste for many women who were able to attend the event. Perhaps, the South Korean company should seriously look into how women (and men, of course) have already managed to dominate almost every sector of society.
It’s about time Samsung educates itself about the role of women in society and even in the tech industry. Although the company did launch some programs to help women in rural sectors, its portrayal of women in these two events indicates that the company might be the one in need of serious help.