Startup company OnePlus came up with a pretty strange —and sexist — idea for launching its first smartphone, the One. Beyond its unusual, invitation-only purchasing plan, OnePlus took its launch plan a twisted step further by announcing a contest called “Ladies First,” with which they tried — and failed — to expand their female fan base.
Under the guise of “chivalry,” the contest told women to skip the line for a new phone if they agreed to draw the OnePlus logo somewhere on their bodies, take a photo, and post the image on the OnePlus website. The contest yielded a range of submissions, from photos of women who actually wanted to participate in the contest to photoshopped images of scantily-clad women.
According to the contest guidelines, the 50 women whose pictures got the most “likes” will get to “cut the line” and receive an invitation to purchase a OnePlus phone. Yup: participating in the contest doesn’t even get you a free phone. Not only does this contest objectify women, but it rips us off, too.
Why would OnePlus ever think this would be a good marketing strategy? That’s a good question, and one that still remains largely unanswered. OnePlus might have been correct in recognizing that it needs to find a way to appeal to a wider female market if it wants to boost its sales. Why the company thought a contest that offended and exploited their target audience would make women want to buy their product, though, is beyond me.
As you might expect, the contest has received significant backlash from women and men around the world. Since the contest launched on Tuesday, Twitter users have expressed their disgust and disappointment with the “Ladies First” idea.
OnePlus officially removed the contest from their website at 3pm on Tuesday and acknowledged their mistake in an apologetic blog post.