Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How not to advertise your 3D Printing school

I don't want to give this any more legitimacy than it deserves, but I feel that we need to shine a spotlight on this sort of thing and address it openly before it becomes the norm.

Watch this video, but turn off the sound, and tell me what you think they're advertising:

Obviously it's something to do with 3D printing or it wouldn't be here, but you couldn't tell that just from the visuals. Heck, redub this video and they could be advertising Olympic sized sandboxes for all we know. Visuals alone, this video would be better suited to advertise makeup or tank tops, because there's certainly plenty of that.

Everything from automobiles to snack foods have been advertised by draping sex on it. It's a cheap trick that gets the 14-32 year old male demographic without fail and without effort. But this isn't even doing that right. At least the car companies know to put a car in their ad. Did this company, obsessively interested in 3D printing, not have a single 3D print they could put in these ladies' hands? For that alone I wouldn't give this company the time of day. They also could have put them in lab coats and/or glasses. Any male fantasy at least tangentially related to the subject would have been doing it better than this.

Some would argue that targeting the male demographic in this way is actually damaging to the demographic STEM in general and 3D printing specifically needs to see more of: girls. I don't know if that's true. After all, like I said, this has been a tried and true method of advertising for decades and it hasn't damaged female presence in anything else any more than the general patriarchy has. This is probably more symptomatic than causal.

However, I can see the argument that this is going to hurt girls getting into 3D printing. After all, the message to a girl watching this is clear. 3D printing is for the boys. And if they do sign up, and they meet a boys who signed up on the basis of these painted ladies with no names what's going to be that boy's first reaction to that girl? We already know he got there because of objectification, so do you honestly think he's going to maintain a respectful demeanor? Probably not. He's probably going to do what nerds have done with girls in STEM fields since the start of time. Objectify them until they leave because they're too uncomfortable to stick around. And it's not the boys fault (well, I mean it is, they should know better), it's because they were lured in with long hair, low neck lines, and pretty smiles. Or it's because they were the type to be lured in this way, but either way the girls in this program, which we desperately need more of, are going to have a hard time because of these two sirens.

Sorry, I didn't mean to call those ladies sirens. It was just a little creative imagery. I'm sure these women are wonderful people in real life. But in the context of this video they have no names, no identity, and no personality, all of which are good if you're selling sex. However, do they have any interest in 3D printing? Maybe they're both uber-makers with a self built rep-rap, a $300 soldering iron, and a modestly powerful computer to do CAD work on with a subscription to Solidworks. They wouldn't be the first attractive girl into making. But you wouldn't know that from this video. Chances are these ladies are just hired talent with the right figures, a willingness to flaunt it, and skill in reading and emoting in an appealing way. None of which are bad things, generally. But forgive me for thinking it might not the healthiest thing for 3D printing in general.

Either way, whether this is damaging to girls or just really doing the marketing wrong, this is a prime example of what not do do. Let's hold 3D printing to a higher standard.

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