Samsung's big Galaxy S4 launch event was marked by weird theatrics and the blight of sexism, but it's not the only recent Samsung event drawing criticism for its portrayal of women. As Girl Guides reported, a Samsung event at the Africa Forum in Cape Town last Friday "demoed a range of fridges with bikini-clad dancers handing out water bottles and launched a range of 'Wobble' washing machines complete with the same barely pubescent dancers shaking their stuff in swimsuits." Like the Galaxy S4 event, it didn't sit well with some observers. But unlike the Galaxy S4 event, the Samsung group responsible for the show appears ready to evolve its messaging in the future.
In response to Samsung's show, South Africa technology journalist Samantha Perry sent an open letter to the company, calling it out for "alienating a substantial portion" of its target market. "Heaven forbid I, as a woman with 15 years experience covering the tech sector, should have any place at one of your launches as anything other than (frequently half-naked) eye candy," Perry wrote. Samsung's presentation is particularly troubling in South Africa, which, according to a recent study, has "the highest rate [of violence against women] ever reported in research anywhere in the world" amid a culture of chauvinistic attitudes and systemic weaknesses in the justice system.
"We would like to apologize for any offense caused."
As Girl Guides reports, Samsung South Africa has now formally apologized for its production; Samsung head of corporate marketing and communications Michelle Potgieter says that "we would like to apologize for any offense caused... and assure you that we acknowledge your views and opinions on this matter." While the statement was issued from a regional operation, Potgieter says the South Africa post will work with other Samsung head offices to resolve similar issues moving forward. Potgieter says that "we will endeavor to be more sensitive around these issues going forward and will raise all relevant matters with our headquarters and respective regional head offices accordingly." There's no guarantee that Samsung as a whole will follow suit — the company loves throwing lavish events without an eye for taste — but it's a start.