After Sockgate and the Maxxis Babes, body armour company SixSixOne have become the latest mountain bike brand to abruptly withdraw marketing material after receiving a torrent of criticism from social media users about the way it portrays women.
The offending post, which went out on Thursday via SixSixOne’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds, featured a naked woman with her modesty protected only a set of knee pads, with the hashtag “#protectfun”.
Outspoken advocate of women’s mountain biking Amanda Batty was one of the first to criticise the post, writing on her Facebook page:
“Oh, LOOK! Another MTB product being sold through the objectification of women and sexual marketing… Yay. What a delightful surprise. What a clever campaign. What work this must have been, coming up with such a ‘shocking’ and ‘alternative’ and ‘bold’ marketing strategy. Jesus. Could you motherf—–s be ANY LAZIER?!”
Her comments were echoed by many other users across various social media sites. Jenn Bouma, posting on SixSixOne’s Facebook page, wrote “How does the following represent women on your team well? How does it help the women on your team inspire young girls who are interested in enduro, MTB and downhill?”
Our own 24/7 manned twitter account chipped in too.
Hey 661, the 70’s called – they want their marketing campaign back. https://t.co/c1tLYqOWGQ
— Singletrack Magazine (@singletrackmag) January 14, 2016
Other commenters were more philosophical, such as designer and aspiring DH racer Monet Adams:
“Representation of female riders was never even considered here, so although the objectification of women in this context is a bit boring and unoriginal, I personally don’t take offence to it as a rider. What does bother me though is – MTB is a grassroots sport with a lot of talent in both the media and riders. Could you not have spent the few hundred dollars you spent on paying this model (you had better have paid her!) to buy some quality photos of your talented grass roots riders? Your customers are not stupid – they buy into brands with stories and context.”
SixSixOne removed the post shortly afterwards and posted an apology on their Instagram and Facebook pages, saying
“Sorry for any offence caused in yesterday’s post, we’ve removed the images from social media. and also removed it from our image library and website. The image does not represent the brand opinion or help support the amazing women of our sport. We want EVERYONE to get stoked on our products, and sharing an out of date non-riding image of a model in our pads was an error. Happy Trails!”
In fairness to SixSixOne they do seem determined to put things right. The first image they posted after removing the offensive one was of a female rider they sponsor, and Sebastian Raymond, SixSixOne’s marketing manager, states “There will definitely be no shooting of that type happening anymore with our new team and no more usage of such photos“.
Meanwhile, the winning comment on the whole sorry affair probably goes to this chap, who took it upon himself to recreate SixSixOne’s photo with himself as the model. Ladies, form an orderly queue…
— Matt McCulley (@Beanpolematt) January 15, 2016
And finally, what do you think?