This week a big high five needs to go out to our girl Karen Knowlton for calling out surfer brand Billabong and the blatant sexism on their site in her Medium post: F*ck You Billabong. Seriously F*ck You. "I get that sex sells, but just do better. Just be better than this, because this totally sucks and frankly the whole thing is a bit tired. This kind of imagery impacts the psyche of women and girls far beyond whatever marketing moron you entrusted your site to could even imagine," Karen says. To that we say, "Hell YES!" Brands can no longer get away with cheap selling tricks that sellout women.
Last week Billabong had this photo on their landing page. Man killing it on the waves, and a hot girl laying on the beach. What are they implying, who are they selling to? Billabong has an awesome team of badass lady surfers, do they just do this, or do they actually surf?
Billabong has since changed it's landing page photo to include a woman actually surfing.
Billabong has also failed to comment or respond to Karen's post per Business Insider.
As you look through the site, it's pretty sad to see the messaging and narrative they are selling to women and girls.
Meanwhile they have no problem showcasing men at the top of their game and good at their sport.
If you then take one step further and look at their Women's and Men's team profiles, you see a stark difference in the photography and descriptions. The women profiles talk about their style and you still struggle to find an actual surfing shot, meanwhile the male profiles are loaded with action footage and photos.
Is the epitome of a surfer girl. She is competing in her 3rd year on the ASP World Tour and regularly dons the cutest outfits of any girl on tour. She is as talented in the water as she is at putting together the perfect going out ensemble. When asked to describe her style in 3 words, she easily answers: bold, edgy and fun.
Numerous amateur contest results. Most recently scoring the July 2012 cover of Eastern Surf Magazine.
Sponsors: Billabong, Von Zipper, Seasoned Surf Boards, The Wild Lyfe
Favorite spot: South Side "Dumps", DE
The issue here stems deeper than a landing page, and the core messaging of the brand and sexism runs throughout the site and highlighted with their athlete profiles.
As Karen Says:
This sh*t is powerful. This layout, this choice representation of who Billabong thinks men are, and who it thinks women are. This sh*t matters. Girls who look at this site get the message loud and clear that no matter what else they’ve heard, and despite all the pushes to get more girls in sports/tech/leadership, etc, etc, when it really comes down to it, the most important thing is still how good we look in a bikini.
We get enough of this sh*t elsewhere, I assure you. We don’t need it from you too. So show me some badass (and beautiful, if you must) women out there shredding waves and having fun on the beach. Show me what is possible for me, as a woman, if I buy your products. Sell me that dream. Isn’t that what this whole business is about anyway?
Cheers to Karen for using her voice, as we all should each and every day to speak out about the things that wake us up, the things we know need to change, and to help shift the skewed narrative of what it means to be a women at work, at play, in the world.
Maybe they should have led with this photo? It is from their athlete Courtney Conlogue