On June 4th, 1919, the United States Senate passed what would go on to become the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which granted sufferage to women, by a vote of 56 yeas to 25 nays. It would take more than a year to officially become part of the Constitution.
History, it seems, is not without a sense of irony. Yesterday, Nutanix launched a new ad campaign called nixVblock. This campaign, which should have highlighted the advantages of their product over the VCE converged infrastructure, instead veered into “Bro Culture” territory with “high brow humor” that is normally reserved for locker rooms, fraternity houses, and lite beer commercials.
The primary characters of the nixVblock ads are an IT guy named Doug and his “date” Vicky Block, who goes by VBlock for short. While Doug is characterized as your average IT infrastructure engineer, “VBlock” is supposed to be an uninteresting, high maintenance woman who hears three voices in her head and dresses like three separate people.
The “VBlock” character is supposed to represent the negatives of the competing VCE vBlock product. Instead, it comes off as the negative stereotype of a crazy ex that has been cranked past 11 into offensive territory.
When I saw the videos, I was offended. These videos were laden with unfortunate implications (warning: TV Tropes link), and they hit a lot of my berserk buttons (warning: another TV Tropes link). I found them to be both sexist and insulting to those suffering from mental illness. These negatives completely overshadowed any positives that I might have picked up about their product.
But most of all, I’m disappointed. Nutanix has great technology and some of the smartest people in tech working for them. They didn’t need to stoop to this level, and this ad campaign showed a complete lack of awareness for current events.
In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had the following:
- The shooting at UCSB where a guy went on a rampage because women weren’t interested in him
- The #YesAllWomen campaign
- Arthur Chu’s excellent column in The Daily Beast called “Your Princess is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds.”
- The Google Diversity Report
You’d think that someone, somewhere in the company, would have seen these and thought “Maybe this is a bad idea. Maybe we should scrap these videos.”
Obviously, that did not happen.
It’s 2014. Why do we need to continue to perpetuate sexism in IT?
Note: Nutanix appears to have pulled the videos from the nixvblock website prior to this post.