San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
#IWD2016

Kölbi marks International Women's Day with ill-conceived ad campaign

On Tuesday the world celebrates International Women’s Day and across the globe, both today and leading up to it, people are protesting the lack of equal pay for women, sexual violence and political inequality, as well as celebrating women’s successes and struggles.

Not so at Costa Rica’s state-owned telecommunications company, kölbi. A few days ago, kölbi launched an advertising campaign that many on social media ridiculed as sexist as it encouraging women to be vulnerable, frivolous and fashion-conscious.

An ad posted Sunday on the company’s Facebook page read, “Paint your nails: Completely defenseless for a few minutes,” followed by #dimensiónmujer or “womensdimension.”

Another ad read: “Combine purse and shoes …and scarf and glasses and laptop and nails and….”

The post about defenseless nailpainting was accompanied by an invitation for Facebook fans to share the color of their nails, which many did in photos.

“I love mine,” wrote Xinia Sandoval Gorgona, above a picture of her detailed fingernails, one sporting a miniature butterfly. “They go with the heat of my Liberia, Guanacaste.”

Others didn’t mince words when offering their opinion of the campaign.

“In 2016 carrying out sexist campaigns full of stereotypes against women. If you continue these jokes worthy of 1960, we’re going to have to change operators,” wrote Paulo Acevedo.

“What a disgusting campaign!!!!!!” wrote Cilia Mendez. “As if we were some stupid materialistic barbies, very offensive !!!!”

Carla Palma Ramírez wrote: “The color doesn’t matter. I’d rather you ask me about plans and projects. … I hope this year to develop all the projects that I have planned in my office in favor of women’s rights ….”

Mariela Contreras Molina wrote simply, “Mine are natural I don’t have time to paint them.”

The Tico Times requested comment on the campaign from kölbi but hadn’t received a response by mid-morning Tuesday. The story will be updated with any response from the company.

Wanted: new corporate image consultants

The kölbi campaign is the second in twice as many months to set Costa Rica’s social media sphere ablaze over what many see as ill-conceived — and in the latest instance, terribly-timed — publicity campaigns aimed at women. Both were launched by government-affiliated businesses.

In late November, the state-owned Banco de Costa Rica launched a pink-drenched campaign to publicize its new bank exclusively for women, Banca Kristal.

Among the campaign slogans was this one: “Women aren’t complicated. It’s just that before no one understood us,” which prompted outraged comments and ridicule.

By International Women’s Day, most of kölbi’s #dimensiónmujer ads had been taken down from the company’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. The company tweeted an apparent response to criticism on Monday:

“CLARIFICATION: our Ticas are full of strengths and virtues! We don’t support stereotypes. We’re celebrating this women’s month to the max.”

On Tuesday, the cell company’s Facebook page congratulated women for following their passion, featuring, for example, a surfboard next to a hardhat; a camera next to a stethoscope.

Better late than never? Or too little, too late?

Contact Jill Replogle at jillrep@ticotimes.net

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