TrueCar Ad Called Out For Implying Women Need Help Buying Cars Without A Man

07/23/2013 12:06 pm ET
  • Julie Zeilinger Author of College 101: A Girl's Guide to Freshman Year and A Little F'd Up: Why Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word. Founder and Editor of the FBomb (thefbomb.org).

Sexist ads are hardly a relic from the "Mad Men" era. In fact, in the past year alone we've been treated to everything from the use of an iconic feminist image to sell mops to a headless set of breasts to sell Axe products. Now TrueCar.com is receiving backlash for an ad that some are saying suggests that women can't purchase a car without a man by their side.

This TrueCar ad, which originally aired in March of this year, features women talking about their auto-buying worries. One woman in the commercial says she found "hold[ing] my own [at the car dealership] kind of tough," and another says she felt a lot of "anxiety" during the car-buying process. Thankfully, according to the commercial, TrueCar.com "makes it easier to go in by yourself" by helping women research pricing and negotiate a good car deal without "bring[ing] a dude." Because, as David Griner of Adweek observes: "Apparently women have to research pricing, while men have the magical ability to guess it on the nose like they're securing a spot on The Price Is Right."

It seems that the intention of the ad was to empower women. Bill Groak of Public Relations firm PCGCampbell told The Huffington Post in an email that the ad was inspired by a survey (which Business Insider notes is likely this 2006 Capital One survey), which found that 77 percent of female car buyers planned to bring a man along when doing so.

"Regardless of race or gender, being a more informed car buyer benefits consumers," said TrueCar Founder and CEO Scott Painter in statement to HuffPost. "This particular ad is pro-consumer and pro-women. It was developed by our creative director, who is a woman, and it addresses a real consumer issue in the marketplace."

But many have interpreted the ad differently, reaching out to TrueCar via Twitter and Facebook, calling the spot "terribly misguided," and "insulting and degrading."

Laura Stampler of Business Insider wrote that the ad plays off of "old stereotypes" and misguidedly implies that women don't need a man's help negotiating a car deal, "not because they can walk into a dealership and get a good price on their own, but because there's now a good 'dude' replacement: a certificate that prices car values from TrueCar.com."

While TrueCar may have intended to present their product as aiding female self-sufficiency, this ad doesn't encourage empowerment so much as it implies that women are naturally helpless and dependent. A word of advice for TrueCar.com (and any other companies trying to reach women): instead of promising that your product will replace men, acknowledge that most women are incredibly competent individuals who don't need a man's help in the first place.

What do you think of the ad? Let us know in the comments!

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