Two male founders decided it was a good idea to send tech reporters a basket full of sex toys to promote their startup, Need.
Need is an anonymous Q&A app that answers all sorts of questions — sexual or otherwise.
One female tech reporter was insulted by the gift, wondering why a non-sex-related startup would hand her a basket full of oysters, tequila, K-Y Jelly, and a vibrator in her office lobby, then proceed to pitch her.
She says she felt her sexuality was being put on display. Being handed a vibrator in public by a stranger is obviously uncomfortable, and moronic. So she wrote about the experience.
The founders of Need say they “feel extremely misunderstood” by the reporter, Kristen Brown, and social media’s response to their PR gaffe.
The founders say every reporter they pitched — man or woman — received the same basket, vibrator and all.
They admitted to Brown that the gifts were chosen based on shock value, but they also say they are representative of Need’s brand. In an attempt to explain themselves on Medium, one of the founders writes:
One Need was for “the best day date activity in the Bay Area”, and the responses included a trip to Hog Island Oyster Company to shuck oysters…thus the oysters, lemon, cocktail sauce, and oyster shucker. Another Need was for “the best margarita recipe”, and so we included the recipe along with tequila, agave nectar, limes, cocktail shaker, margarita glass and a juicer. Yet another Need was from a user stating they were married with children asking for advice on how to “spice things up in the bedroom”, and the massager and lubricant were highly recommended by the community.
Here’s a photo of the gifts, and the actual gift basket, which was delivered to Brown in early August. The founders say the baskets and their contents were devised by Need’s marketing team, which is composed largely of women:
The founders claim all gifts, including the vibrator, were gender neutral.
“We feel extremely misunderstood,” one of Need’s founders writes on Medium. “It was never our intention that the items be taken personally, or that they cause discomfort or offence. Clearly, we vastly underestimated the sensitive nature of these topics, and regrettably made Ms. Brown feel uncomfortable.”
Finally, in the last line, the apology comes.
“I would like to extend my heartfelt apologies to you, Ms. Brown, and to anyone else that we have offended or otherwise upset.”