Sexist Metro Ads Still Up at L’Enfant Plaza


Thanks to a reader for sending:

“It’s at L’Enfant. How in the world did metro think this was a smart thing to put up??”

In early Dec. the Post reported:

Lynn Bowersox, Metro’s assistant general manager for customer service, communications and marketing, defended the ad and claimed responsibility for the communications campaign the ad is part of. She called the campaign a “series of unlikely conversations between friends and colleagues” about improvements at Metro.

Despite the defense I can’t believe the ads are still posted given the negative reaction. The reader sent the photo above on Friday from inside the L’Enfant Plaza metro station.

53 Comment

  • I think it’s funny. People really need to stop being overly sensitive.

    • justinbc

      +1 I don’t view this sexist at all. I read it as “Metro is boring, let’s talk about literally any

    • +1. And it’s pretty accurate. I don’t know too many women who don’t love shoes more than life itself.

      • Really? Cause I know lots of women who aren’t shoe crazy – stereotypes need to go off and die.

    • you think the controversy is funny or the actual ad is funny? i can definitely see the humor in this being a significant topic of discussion for a long period of time, but you can’t possibly actually find the ad funny on its own, right?

    • pcat

      I agree that this is simply a funny ad. I was just going to post the same thing as anonymous!

    • By “people” I assume you mean women. Once again – just because you are not offended personally doesn’t mean something isn’t offensive. And for the record, I am in fact a female who hates shoes – and my friends and I are much more likely to discuss domestic and foreign policy, science, sports, finance, or just That Thing That Person Posted on PoPville than shoes.

      • I’m a guy who hates shoes. Every once in a while, though, I do talk about them.
        (And domestic and foreign policy as well)
        I’m missing the part where the ad implies that women only talk about shoes. Seems to me that they were just trying to use a topic that presented a strong contrast to metro stats.

      • And I’m a male who doesn’t watch sports, but I wasn’t offended by the ad in this same series where they guy asks to talk about sports instead of Metro.

        Lighten up.

        Also… my girlfriend has an incomprehensible number of shoes. It’s quite common for women to have a lust for shoes, so the stereotype is pretty accurate.

      • “Once again – just because you are not offended personally doesn’t mean something isn’t offensive. ”

        I can be didactic too: just because someone, somewhere is hypersentive and prone to taking offense, doesn’t mean something is offensive.

    • Thank you! The overly-sensitive, PC police have really taken over.

    • It’s funny, if I remember correctly there is a similar one with two guys. Not a big deal

  • I’ve seen the guy version–“Can’t we just talk about sports?”–about 20 times now and never felt offended by it, so it’s kinda hard to get het up about this one.
    They got your attention on a totally uninteresting topic. Advertising success.
    Plus, it galls me how much some women talk about shoes. And I’m a woman.

  • If this were the only ad, it *might* be sexist, but it is a series of ads that include both men and women talking about shoes, sports, and other less “controversial” topics as well. Honestly I see zero problem with this campaign.

    • Who gets to talk about sports (interesting) and who gets to talk about shoes (inane)? Women are always cast as flighty and simple in advertisement and this doesn’t help. It is sexist.

  • This series of ads caught my attention — in a positive way, and that’s the first time I would say that about something as prosaic as an ad for a transit system. Perhaps because I saw an ad featuring men first — emphasizing the contrast between Metro stats wonk and the let’s talk about ANYTHING else” guy, this ad did not strike me as problematic. That’s also likely because I am about equally smitten with factoids and shoes. I will say though, that if the wonk character were male and the shoe lover were female, and if that were the only ad — rather than one of a series, I’d likely view it as sexist. As it is though, I”m personally cool with it — although I’m surprised that it would still be displayed if it’s garnered a significant number of negative reactions.

    • I think you probably solved the mystery with your last sentence. It probably hasn’t caused a significant number of negative reactions. My guess is that it caused a small number of negative reactions.

    • Well, I was just thinking about how many new cuppler joints or whatever they put in thanks to this ad series and this “controversy”, so they may have chosen to go ahead with it after the rest of the series had time to get out there and people could see that if you call sexism on the shoes woman, you have to call sexism on the sports guy.

      Nobody did that, so they’re in the clear and have gotten a lot of free attention because of it.

  • I can see how the ad is offensive – but what gets me is that the joke’s execution is pretty terrible even if you’re not offended. It would be funnier if it said “Cant we talk about the weather” or “Cant we talk about the latest Iowa straw poll” or “Cant we talk about Peter Russo’s suspicious death?”

  • I just find it funny that they’re touting what sounds like a terrible number as a big achievement, and there is no context to remedy that. What constitutes a breakdown? How often do buses breakdown in other systems? If my car broke down every 8260 miles, I would probably get a new car.

    • jim_ed

      That was my thought too. Considering Metrobuses are driven all day long, this makes it seem you could set your watch to a Metrobus needing repairs every two weeks or so. Some context as to why this is an achievement would be nice.

    • I had that same thought when I saw these ads.

      About 8,000 miles between breakdowns is really bad.

      • Is it? For a mass transit bus? How many miles would be really good?

        • Well, I don’t know.

          I just know freight trucks and normal cars, and if they’re fully out of commission every 3-4 months, that’s really bad for a business.

          Even if that is good for a transit bus, they should be more aware of the fact that public perception is based on normal automobiles and that number isn’t going to impress as they had intended.

    • The better question is how many miles between hitting a pedestrian, vehicle, sign or pole? Or snowy owl?
      Too soon?

  • Funny would be having the ad with the man in it having the reply “Can’t we talk about shoes?”
    and the one with the woman in it reading “Can’t we talk about sports?”

  • I read the title of this post as “Sexiest Metro Ads” – and I immediately asked myself, there are sexy Metro ads?

  • epric002

    i haven’t seen the comparable ad where the guy asks if they can just talk about sports. but between this one and the don’t run on the platform ads where the man is of course running while carrying a briefcase while the woman is running while carrying shopping bags….you’d think don draper’s agency was writing these things. yeesh.

  • “Despite the defense I can’t believe the ads are still posted given the negative reaction.”

    Did anyone at Metro or Metro’s ad agency imply that they’d be taken down? A few negative responses – especially considering how many people must see this every day at L’Enfant and not complain – doesn’t have to result in the cancellation of an entire ad campaign.

  • Reminds me of Kinky Boots! What a great movie. How do you know those are real women? 😉

  • And I just cannot muster up any outrage about this ad. ::shrug::

  • Terrible waste of ad dollars. It’s a lame joke, with an even lamer stereotype as the punchline. Neither of them are saying something that any real person would say. So, so stupid all around.

  • People should learn the difference between something being sexist and something invoking stereotypes. There’s nothing sexist about this. It just invokes stereotypes about women.

    There are similar ads of men trying to discuss sports. That isn’t sexist. It’s stereotyping. There’s a difference.

  • To me the most offensive part is that it suggests metro customers don’t actually care about issues like how often the buses break down or when we’re getting new rail cars that don’t go out of service every time a bag gets caught in the door. I think it’s fair to say that a large percentage of metro customers care about these things a great deal, because they impact our daily life. Rather than paying PR people to make bad jokes about how much women love shoes/men love sports, spend your money fixing the system.

    • I think you’re a little off the mark by taking this angle. It doesn’t suggest that metro customers don’t care, it suggests that they don’t want to talk about it, which I think is entirely true. I think the vast majority of customers would much rather just get on with their lives without thinking (let alone talking) about metro reliability and maintenance issues.
      Also, the whole point of the ad it to bring attention to the fact that metro *is* spending money to fix the system.

      • It would be nice not to think about it, yes, but that implies that everything is working, which it clearly is not. The reality is that I, and many other people I know who live in the area, do talk about metro issues quite a bit. My first thought when I saw this ad campaign is that it is just another example of metro downplaying how seriously dysfunctional the entire system is.

        • That’s fine. I was just trying to point out that I don’t think the message you are taking is not the one they are giving. Sounds like your general perspective predisposes you to see things that metro does and says in a negative light, which I don’t think is representative of the “average” or “typical” metro customer.

  • I would be offended if my taxes and fare dollars were spent removing a bunch of ads, because a small number of people were oversensitive and wanted to make a fuss.

  • I saw this at Metro Center too once. It’s hilariously bad on so many levels.

  • Sexist? Oh brother.

    I think the really funny thing is that it can only go 8000 miles before braking down!?

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