Oppo “Ladies First” contest backfires
The OnePlus One is a CyanogenMod-running stock phone by Oppo (CyanogenMod, Inc.) that I considered covering for Pocketables a while back. But with the developers I follow dropping out of the project and a lot of forum drama, there was nothing particularly interesting to me until this week.
This week Oppo decided to do a “ladies first” giveaway in which women were invited to post their picture with the Oppo OnePlus One logo. All the women had to do was take a picture of themselves with the OnePlus logo visible (painted on them, held up on a piece of paper, tattooed, etc.), post it, and give Oppo permission to use said picture. The picture that got the most likes won the phone.
The contest was introduced with the line “OnePlus wants to give a shout out to the few but beautiful female fans in our community.” The contest rules were spelled out, which involved the users of the forum voting on who they liked the best, and then they requested “Ladies, no nudity please.” Things didn’t go well for very long.
What ensued included a few real entries, several photoshopped entries, and a long and interesting set of arguments about whether a primarily male crowd-rated attractiveness and sex-based line jumping contest was really something that needed to happen. The thread spun out of control and was subsequently cancelled with this statement:
Women make up half the world, and we want to help them be more involved in tech. We understand that our contest was in bad taste, and have therefore pulled it. All participants will be contacted for prizes.
We apologize and we will course correct for the future. At the same time, we would love to hear your feedback on how we can better get women involved in tech.
– Carl (administrator on oneplus.net)
Whether they’ve alienated their female followers, who were not few to begin with, or simply inspired a bunch who were not participating to join the forums remains to be seen. As to whether an objectifying popularity contest could get more women involved in tech, ehhh, you decide that one. I don’t think the results worked like they wanted them to.
As for the no nudity clause they added, for reference this was about a year after this advertisement for one of their products drew flack for selling sex instead of product.
The original contest thread was deleted and all comments wiped from the internet. Oppo admits they’re in the wrong. 800+ comments into the apology/this was a bad idea thread at the moment, life goes on for Oppo.
As a note, the prize was to be able to jump line to purchase a full priced Oppo OnePlus One device, and a t-shirt if I’m reading correctly. When they took the contest down, the prize info and thread went away. Supposedly everyone who entered ended up winning, but whether that means a t-shirt or the t-shirt and the line jumping I don’t know.
Trying to not be Judgy McJudgerson here, but it seems like anyone who’s been on the internet for more than a week could have figured out that a sex-based contest where hottest woman was going to win after being voted on by a primarily male audience wasn’t a particularly good idea if you were trying to sell “getting women more involved with tech.”
It seems like if the contest rules had simply stated “no nudity or explicit behavior,” along with the entry requirements instead of “Ladies, no nudity please” as a throwaway line, it would have probably sounded less, “Hey women, quit trying to win this contest by getting naked.” Also if they said they were trying to get women involved in their forums instead of in tech, it would have been less off track.
What do you think? What should Oppo/CyanogenMod do?[TheVerge | Android Central | OnePlus.net | ladies]