back to article Swedish ISP spanked for sexist 'distracted boyfriend' advert for developer jobs

A job ad using the ubiquitous distracted boyfriend image, fodder for countless social media posts, has been declared sexist by Sweden's advertising ombudsman following a handful of complaints. The ad, posted on Facebook and Instagram, is based on Antonio Guillem's "distracted boyfriend" stock photo, formally referred to on …

  1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Red

      The woman in red? She doesn't talk much...

      1. Solarflare

        Re: Red

        That's because the poor lass is constantly stuck dancing with Chris de Burgh...

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Red

      A bird in your bed is worth any two on the street.

    3. Mog_X

      Re: Red

      “Were you listening to me, Neo? Or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?”

  2. Khaptain Silver badge

    Negative towards who?

    The photographer put the guy into focus, he is the object, the light is on him and he is being portrayed dishonest.

    I would therefore consider this image as a negative portrayal of men.

    The woman in red is not even in focus, for all it matters she could have been completely out of the picture.

    1. Prosthetic Conscience
      Trollface

      Re: Negative towards who?

      Whoa whoa there, can't have sense in reason in these things.

      If anything this picture is a poignant satire of current affairs.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Negative towards who?

        ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ Logic &

        ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ reason

        ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ Society

        Yet another

        social media-

        driven outrage

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Geoffrey W Silver badge

          Re: Negative towards who?

          RE: "Yet another social media-driven outrage"

          What a perfect description of the commenters in this very thread. Well Done!

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Negative towards who?

      The guy is also the prettier of the three…

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Negative towards who?

        Different preferences may be catered for...

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: Negative towards who?

          If they swapped the guy for another girl, would there still be outrage? It'd still be objectifying women, so the complaints should still roll in...

          1. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: Negative towards who?

            If they swapped the guy for another girl, would there still be outrage? It'd still be objectifying women, so the complaints should still roll in...

            If they were feeling vaguely creative they could have run a series of the different possible permutations (what if it's a guy in the red top?), which would have been funnier and might have avoided trouble too.

          2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: Negative towards who?

            If they swapped the guy for another girl, would there still be outrage?

            There certainly would be from the girlfriend! Guys ogling other women is bad enough but goes with the territory, ogling other men is a whole heap more of trouble.

            1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

              Re: Negative towards who?

              "If they swapped the guy for another girl, would there still be outrage?

              There certainly would be from the girlfriend! Guys ogling other women is bad enough but goes with the territory, ogling other men is a whole heap more of trouble."

              Uh, that really, really depends on the people involved. There's an enormously complex spectrum of sexuality out there, and not everybody fits into the nice neat pigeon holes you see in popular culture. Maybe most people don't, in some way.

              My wife, for example, would have loved to see me get it on with another guy.

          3. Flakk Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Negative towards who?

            If they really wanted to get teh Interwebz up to a rolling boil, they'd have Photoshopped a smile onto the girl in blue.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Negative towards who?

            If they swapped the guy for another girl, would there still be outrage?

            "Girls who put out are tramps. Girls who don't are ladies. This is, however, a rather archaic usage of the word. Should one of you boys happen upon a girl who doesn't put out, do not jump to the conclusion that you have found a lady. What you have probably found is a lesbian." - Fran Lebowitz

      2. Bongwater

        Re: Negative towards who?

        I thought it was Tom Brady's handsome cousin Fred!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Negative towards who?

        This is the bit I found strange, it is a posed shot with actors and both women are extremely presentable but not in the guy's league to be fair. The question here is am I objectifying everyone in an equal opportunities way? I suppose I need to say that the photographer seems to be a bit of a git.

    3. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Negative towards who?

      Whoever is in focus, the picture is a pretty negative portrayal of both men and women when compared to the ideal espoused by society... woman in red portrayed as sex object, man portrayed as unfaithful, woman in blue as jealous....

      On the other hand it is a 100% accurate portrayal of men and woman as the animals that we really are. Whatever the societal ideals are, both sexes dress up and style themselves to look attractive, both sexes especially males are hardwired to be open to multiple sex partners, and both sexes experience jealousy which is a normal reaction to sexual competition.

      The reason that the picture is so great is that it is a true snapshot of real life.

      1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

        Re: Negative towards who?

        woman in blue as jealous....

        Oh leave it out, anyone can see she's saying "Oi! I saw her first"

      2. tfb Silver badge

        Re: Negative towards who?

        The whole 'hardwired' thing is just stupid. No human is 'hardwired' to do physics or maths, or to be able to read or write.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Negative towards who?

          Nobody said anything about being hardwired for physics or maths or to read or write. We were talking about sex. Which all animals are clearly hardwired for.

          Focus, tfb, focus..

  3. jarfil

    Is it "sexist", or "sexual"? I feel like some people don't want to see the difference.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Is it "sexist", or "sexual"? I feel like some people don't want to see the difference.

      That reminds me of the 'Smell The Glove' scene in 'This is Spinal Tap'

      Nigel Tufnell: "What's wrong with being sexy?"

      David St Hubbins: "-ist.....sex-IST"

      1. Flakk Silver badge

        Smell The Glove

        That album had the best cover of all time... well, until Metallica went and ruined it.

  4. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Personally, I'd not be tempted to go work for a company using this image as it's advertising material.

    No moral or human dignity reasons, it's just such a tired out, overused and above all probably cheap.

    Such a company wouldn't be worth working for. They'd likely be as unimaginative in every other endevour as they are for their choice of marketing material, they wouldn't pay well (such a cheap ad), and they'd be at least several years behind anywhere else, this image was fresh some time ago, it's way stale now.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Ah, yes, but what about a company that gets its ads struck as being offensive by the nanny state?

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Damn, am I completely out of touch? I've just seen the image for the first time here on El Reg. Does that make my reaction to it more spontaneous than anyone else's?

      I rather like it. A good chuckle. Catches an archetype.

      Objectifying? Hmm, that's a bit of a stretch. Yes she's attractive, but only in the same way as women you'll randomly pass in your everyday business. All the more attractive for NOT being tarted up as a sex object. And she's not even in focus!

      Sexist against men? Definitely plays on that stereotype. But too good, and too genuinely humorous, for that to be offensive, IMHO. The sexism would probably be gratuitous if it lacked those redeeming merits.

      What about the girlfriend? OK, she's (also) the butt of the joke and could legitimately be p***ed off at the use of the image. Is that offensive or sexist? Surely no more than the ubiquitous image of the dumb male in advertising today.

      If there's a real issue, it's whether the image is being used with or without permission of the protagonists, and (given the commercial use) were they paid royalties?

      1. Unep Eurobats
        Facepalm

        We're not talking about whether the image itself, per se and on its own, is sexist, derogatory, offensive, stereotypical, discriminatory or otherwise.

        We're talking about whether using it in an ad for a job is consistent with the spirit of equal opportunity that the company responsible pays the usual lip service to. Which it quite obviously isn't. Bahnhof are a bunch of sexist bros in a hole and should stop digging.

      2. jake Silver badge

        "it's whether the image is being used with or without permission of the protagonists"

        Considering that's an obvious posed shot, they probably came from a modeling pool, signed a waiver and received a few bucks (scale, perhaps) at the end of the shoot. So no to the royalties (or residuals) ... unless their agent was really on the ball.

        The funniest thing about it is that in my experience, the male models in such situations are almost universally gay.

      3. ibmalone Silver badge

        Damn, am I completely out of touch? I've just seen the image for the first time here on El Reg. Does that make my reaction to it more spontaneous than anyone else's?

        It sounds like you've been spending more time outside than is healthy. This picture has been done to death over the last couple of years. Mildly funny (the joke being the guy in the picture is shortly going to have neither lady), but I hope the ad agency gave them a discount for refurbished material.

        1. David Roberts Silver badge
          Windows

          More time outside than is healthy?

          Yep - me too.

          Then again it could be my memory failing or my lack of tracking Internet memes.

          I think some of you are spending more time inside than is healthy. Get out in the fresh air more; it could help you get some perspective.

          I agree that a series of three person adverts with the roles changed could have been interesting. Trying to deny sexual attraction exists or make it a taboo subject is like trying to push water uphill with a feather duster.

      4. Dan 55 Silver badge

        It's a stock photo, there are loads of them with the same photographer and models.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        how?

        how have you NOT seen this over at least the past year? Next you'll be saying you don't know if its a white or Gold dress?! ;)

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        yet again alternatively

        Perhaps the guy regrets not having gone for gender reassignment surgery some years before, and looks at other women with an eye to how he expected he may have looked/dressed as a woman. And the woman in the blue outfit is planning a F-to-M transformation, and is pissed her "trainer" is getting distracted from the task at hand.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I'm torn here

    On the one hand, "following a handful of complaints" sure, let's pretend basic male behavior doesn't exist. I'm soon to hit my 52nd birthday and I do not tire of watching a beauty go by. My wife is not offended by that - although I do restrain myself from doing the full head swivel, tempting though it is sometimes. After all, I am definitely no longer of the age where that can be even half acceptable - some decorum is required.

    On the other hand, for frak's sake why does advertising always seem to start with "hey, we can use a girl !" and then stop there ? On top of the fact that this is indeed cliché and rather tired, the same picture was already used twice, and you go ahead and use it again ? You could'nt find another one ? You couldn't find another subject ? Are most people in marketing males ?

    Ugh. We need to get to the 4th millennium.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: I'm torn here

      "On the other hand, for frak's sake why does advertising always seem to start with "hey, we can use a girl !""

      Because advertisers all know sex sells, they are too lazy most of the time to try to think of anything else and most of them have the mentality of a teenaged boy (at best).

      I think advertisers belong in the same slimy, stagnant pool as lawyers; they over charge, are frugal with or misrepresent the truth and have inflated opinions of their worth.

      1. jumpyjoe

        Re: I'm torn here

        Remember all an advertiser have to do is construct an advert their customer will pay for. It isn't about you the viewer it's about pleasing the customer. It's the customer who usually the asocial idiot.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: I'm torn here

      "let's pretend basic human behavior doesn't exist."

      FTFY

      The ladies ogle the guys, too. And some ogle other ladies. And some guys ogle other guys. And some folks ogle both. And I know one person who ogles couples. But we all ogle. It's part of what makes us human.

      Why do you think that company named itself "go ogle"?

      1. jmch Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: I'm torn here

        "Why do you think that company named itself "go ogle"?"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm torn here

        The ladies ogle the guys, too. And some ogle other ladies. And some guys ogle other guys. And some folks ogle both. And I know one person who ogles couples. But we all ogle. It's part of what makes us human.

        My wife ogles John Barrowman, even knowing she couldn't have him even if he were standing naked in our house. As for myself, I might appreciate he could be sexy, but even if I were female I'd still prefer women.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: I'm torn here

      "Are most people in marketing males ?"

      Frankly, I'm not all that certain they are actually human.

    4. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: I'm torn here

      @Pascal - do you really think this image is "using a girl"? It's about the couple who are the butt of the joke. That's precisely the twist: it's not at all about the girl who appears to have turned his head.

    5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: I'm torn here

      I'm soon to hit my 52nd birthday and I do not tire of watching a beauty go by.

      Why do you dress it up like that? It's lust and everyone has it: nubile thing walks past and we all want a piece.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I'm torn here

        "nubile thing walks past and we all want a piece."

        I might ogle occasionally, but I don't want a piece. At my age, the last thing I want is a young thing fumbling around in confusion. With age comes wisdom. And skill.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: I'm torn here

          I might ogle occasionally, but I don't want a piece.

          The ogling implies the desire. We all know it ain't gonna happen, and even were it to happen we'd hit the buffers of fumbling reality, not doing enough yoga and the shortcomings, ahem, of getting really excited.

        2. Les Matthew

          Re: I'm torn here

          "With age comes wisdom. And skill."

          With the little blue pill.

      2. jumpyjoe

        Re: I'm torn here

        My father once told me that the sexual lust after a beautiful women never goes away but society and consequences usually say "no". He died the following year aged 94.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am offended and I think everyone else should be offended too.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      You're absolutely right! I am offended by your comment!

      1. jake Silver badge

        What is truly offensive ...

        ... are the fuckwits who presume to be offended on the behalf of others.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I am now offended that you are offended by my comment.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
          Pint

          Yay ! Offense for everyone !

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge
            Boffin

            Apart from 'offense' offending my eyes, may I add that I was not offended before but I am now because you feel you are entitled enough to think you have the right to believe that myself and others are offended and, speaking just for myself (and not others), I find that offensive.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            no offence, but....

            1. Craig 2

              re: no offence, but....

              My daughter thinks you can say anything as long as you start with "no offence, but". It has given us some eye-watering truths!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: re: no offence, but....

                I quite enjoy "I'm not being funny, but...", yes, yes you are.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I am offended on behalf of those who don't care about this and so have not had the opportunity to be offended

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wonders if they will stretch pay equality to the "adult" film industry

    Men generally get a very tiny fraction of the pay compared to female performers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wonders if they will stretch pay equality to the "adult" film industry

      Well, that's 'cos they don't have to do much... It seems to be the women who have to do all the work - in hetero porno anyway

  8. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    No such thing as bad PR

    Let's face it, the ad is shit. Want techies to come and work for you? Then use gadget porn because proper nerds don't even have girlfriends to upset.

    But running the cheap and shitty ad and then getting slapped on the wrist for its sexism is bound to get headlines and presumably more job applications from people outraged at the silly censorship.

    Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof, as they say in Germany.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "enough angry complaints about political correctness run amok to Bahnhof's post that the company followed up by asking people not to make personal attacks or death threats."

    And this is happening where?

    "Facebook"

    Case closed.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    don't laugh

    Laughing is offensive and discriminatory against my incurable laughophobia, hefty fines will follow, I warn you!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First...

    First they came for our memes and we did nothing.

    Then they came for our dank memes and we did nothing.

    Then they came for 9gag and that stuff was so old no one cares.

    What's the point? There isn't one.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    as a liberal

    I find it intolerable that liberals are intolerant of people being intolerant towards their intolerance.

  13. Harry Stottle

    The first time

    I've ever felt justified, or even motivated, to use the phrase "Political Correctness Gone Mad"

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: The first time

      I'm sorry but Political Correctness was mad from Day 0

  14. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Joke

    There is another interpretation of the meme

    Man: "that lady in red just stepped in a dog poo"

    Woman: "our dog's poo. I can't believe you didn't clean it up"

    (Yes, I know, I'm being facetious. But then I've just walked our dogs and had to clean up several poops. So, that....)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is another interpretation of the meme

      "Yes, I know, I'm being facetious. But then I've just walked our dogs and had to clean up several poops."

      Surely in this context you mean "faectious".

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: There is another interpretation of the meme

        Surely in this context you mean "faectious".

        I'd worry more about the sausage factory aspect of it.

  15. SVV Silver badge

    I advise everybody to use the photo in their next advert

    After all, we have all now heard of previously unknown Swedish ISP Bahnhof.

    1. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: I advise everybody to use the photo in their next advert

      Bahnhof AB. Bahnhof just means station in a bunch of languages.

      In the meantime I'm just going to leave this here, no reason.

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: I advise everybody to use the photo in their next advert

        We all know what Bahnhof means in German. But not in Swedish: their word is spelt (though not quite pronounced) the same as the English.

  16. onefang Silver badge
    Holmes

    This photo isn't about sex at all. The guy noticed the strange slogan on the back of the woman in red, and is about to say "What the fuck?". The woman in blue is keeping a close eye on where the guy is looking, as she picks his pocket. Both women are in cahoots, the red wearing one is the distraction.

  17. Snowy
    Facepalm

    Imagine something different

    Imagine that the man is transexual and is looking at the lady is red shoes and thinking "I would look good in them shoes" and the image is changed completely different!

    A picture without context is a poor thing to get angry about!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Women are sex objects. Men are sex objects.

    Tell us something we don't know.

  19. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Pirate

    very smart Marketing move

    Using political correctness and the moral outage brigade to provide you with world wide coverage for next to no investment. Whilst the [###]ism whiners are the loudest they are not in the majority.

    Louder the outcry the greater the coverage . I can see this being used more often

  20. Ubermik

    Don't these people have anything better to do than cry about such irrelevant nonsense?

    How empty and sad their lives must be

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't let it show.

    I once made a grave error of this sort, my wife and I were out shopping, and I noticed a rather fine young filly wearing a summer dress. My wife elbowed me in the ribs and chastised me for looking at her. "You're with me, pay attention to me, not her" was her comment. I then put my foot firmly in my mouth by saying "Just because I drive a Mondeo doesn't mean I can't admire an E Type". "Oh, so that's what I am, a Mondeo compared to her E Type, am I?". I could feel the temperature rapidly approaching Absolute Zero, so I made a desperate attempt to rescue the situation by saying "Yes, you're comfortable, solid, and reliable, but she'd be unreliable and would cost a lot to run, what is referred to as High Maintenance". Wife was somewhat mollified, and I was forgiven (eventually).

  22. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Poison Ivy

    Well you can look but you better not touch...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019