There are less obtuse ways of explaining the concept of a “rainstorm” in an advertisement, Data Cars. Because this one is looking a liiiiitle rapey, according to some anti-rape activists.
The London taxi company distributed 200,000 postcards which depicted this image — a woman in the rain, wearing a strapless dress and clutching something close to her chest while she looks unhappy — around London. While the image doesn’t explicitly depict a sexual assault, that association is easily conjured up by the fact the woman is showing so much bare skin and clutching clothes in her arms.
It’s possible whoever did the advertisement for Data Cars was clueless to that association. Explained Les Chapman of Data Cars to the UK’s Daily Mail, “The way we viewed the image, it is simply a girl who has gone out on a hot summer evening and the predicable British weather has opened the heavens and she got soaking wet.” Indeed, the rear of the postcards reads, in part, “Hi girls! You should look just as great coming home as you did going out so don’t gamble on the weather — get a Data Cars mini cab!”
But given the number of double- and triple-takes some people have had looking at the woman in the ad, it’s also possible that “women are vulnerable to attack!” is an association Data Cars also want to put in customers’ minds. After all, their bottom line depends on convincing, through advertising, Londoners that they should ride in cabs more often. The fear all women have of being attacked while walking home alone — especially because we were “showing skin” and were therefore asking for it — is certainly an easy one to exploit. Explained Katie Russell from the UK’s charity Rape Crisis, as quoted in the Daily Mail:
“The best case scenario, giving the company the benefit of the doubt, is that they’re not aware of the associations that the image on this postcard conjures. The worst case scenario is that they’ve knowingly used scare-mongering, sexist and victim-blaming imagery and messaging in a cynical marketing ploy.”
In any case, rape-or-rainstorm isn’t the kind of attention any company wants for their new ads. Better luck next advertising campaign, Data Cars.
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