A Swedish internet company used a popular meme for their job advertisement breaking the gender discrimination rules, the advertising regulator of Sweden, Reklamombudsmannen, has ruled.
The internet company, Bahnhof posted the “distracted boyfriend” meme on Facebook to advertise job vacancies at their company.
The meme shows a man looking at a woman in a red dress while his girlfriend looks at him in horror. This distracted boyfriend meme has been widely used online.
The internet company decided to use the meme to make their advertisement more creative but the regulatory authority found it discriminatory to both men and women.
Bahnhof’s version of the meme shows the distracted boyfriend as ‘you’ – the potential applicant, the women in a red dress as the company itself and the girlfriend of a distracted boyfriend as ‘current employer of the applicant’.
Reklamombudsmannen said in its remarks the image objectified women by showing the man’s “appreciative reaction”.
The ruling also says that the ad was also “sexually discriminatory” towards men by “imparting a stereotyped picture of men looking at women as being interchangeable”.
Reklamombudsmannen gives this ruling to give an advice on good advertising ethics. However, the internet company will not have to remove the image and the authority will not fine it over the ad.
Bahnhof in a statement said that anyone who supports both the internet and meme-culture knows how that meme was used and interpreted.
“We explained the purpose of the image but the regulator interpret the post in a different way.”
— Angry Exile (@AngryExile) September 26, 2018
The social media users ridiculed the authority on the ruling saying that it had failed to correctly interpret the image.