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Bernard Feminist Edition, Our Response

This is an English version of our latest response to the Bernard "Feminist Edition" campaign. The point here is not so much the Pin-up images—for indeed when compared with many Czech ads may not be seen as that sexist by a lot of people—the point is the erroneous statements by Bernard that this campaign was created by Butterflies & Hurricanes, and that the comments by Mr. Bernard about feminists kicked off a seemingly endless stream of misogynistic and verbal abuse towards women in social and traditional media, and that Mr. Bernard has not yet distanced himself from the abuse that his campaign has brought about.

For the last few years I have been interested in brand ethics, and this is why I had to issue a personal statement in response to all the fuss created around Bernard beer’s Pin-up campaign.

So here it is:

1. It is mainly about the effect that the campaign is having (the many hateful insults of feminists, especially on social media) and the fact that the Bernard brand does not dissociate itself from these outpourings of hatred.

2. It is unacceptable for any brand to build their campaign on the victimisation of a minority, or minority view, and to profit from bullying group of people.

3. Why bullying? A) Those women who stood against this campaign are being assaulted in social media. They are being told, that they are ugly, no man would want them and they are stupid, and that they have no sense of humour. The vulgarities are often about their sexuality, are very personal, and hint that they deserve to be victims of sexual violence. B) Bullying as a form of oppression, which is seen for example in schools, and is applied by those who see themselves as “stronger” against those who they see as “weaker”.

4. As I understood from Mr. Bernard’s public statement, the mission of this “Feminist Edition” campaign was to help feminists learn to make fun of themselves, solve their personal issues, and stop ruining the fun of majority society. But the key distinction is that MAKING FUN ONESELF is

different thing than MAKING FUN OF SOMEONE ELSE. This campaign does the latter.

5. If Mr. Bernard and some other men are upset that “feminists” can’t make fun of themselves, this abuse is not going to force them.

6. On the contrary from the brand’s, and Mr. Bernard’s, defensive reactions, the brand is getting points from people who think that ridiculing others and being verbally abusive and misogynistic is fine and a normal thing to do. Thus they profiting from the degradation of others who courageously stand up for what they believe in.

7. In reality it is really the opposite—the bully is usually the coward.

8. Personally I believe that a campaign based on ridiculing people directly affects the mood of society, which sees its elite politicians behaving rudely. It brings out intolerance and small-mindedness in people. The politicians I am thinking of I am sure you can guess.

9. I believe that the effect this campaign has had renders the campaign unethical, and I call on Bernard to publicly distance itself from the reactions of members of the public who ridicule, often in very coarse and sexually aggressive language, those who have publicly stated their opinion against the campaign, and to state that the brand does not condone this type of abuse.

10. To me it is unacceptable for the commercial sector, which is based on profit, not to give a public response to the above request. I do not want to endure another campaign based on ridiculing people who believe in God, black people or women who want to give birth at home. That is not democracy,

that is smallmindedness, and it damages all of society, men and women together.

11. We were either misled by the client or we drastically misunderstood. We were assured that this new campaign was to market to feminists in response to their protests of the last campaign, and that the ad would make fun Mr. Bernard himself. The art was done by a third party.

12. The billboards were not made in our studio and we had no control over them.

13. I do not want my studio to be connected with the ridiculing of people who are defending human rights. “Feminists” defend also men’s rights and I would call for the same response from Bernard if the campaign drew hateful and sexually violent reactions from women against men.

14. I do not see a problem with paying the third party who painted the images. They did the work they were asked to do by the brand, they worked well, and had no control over the impact of the campaign. Furthermore, I have renounced the small fee that my company got for brokering the deal, and the fee will be passed on to an organisation that works against sexism in advertising for the health of society.

15. In my previous statement that went viral, I in no way meant to say that all the men are the same. I was talking about some men and a culture that supports ridiculing and playing down important issues. I mainly wrote about some women who are strong, amazing and deserve admiration.

16. Among the biggest feminists I know, some are men who I am so lucky to call my friends. And one of the best is my husband. I like men and if someone understood my post to mean that I am against them, I can not influence their understanding.

17. And so I am asking all advertising agencies, creatives, media and clients to consider whether or not it is time to start thinking out of the box? Abandon old school desire to only be seen and to scandalise for profit no matter what the consequences, and instead start to think about impact our work can have on people and society.

I wish a nice day to everyone, no matter the colour of your skin, your religion or your gender.


Michaela Thomas

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