Samsung is in the middle of another controversy over how it treats women during product announcements.
At an event in South Africa, it had women in bikini tops dancing around its newest models of refrigerators.
This happened before it announced the Galaxy S4, its newest high-end phone, which also led to controversy.
When Samsung announced the Galaxy S4 it staged a huge Broadway production.
The spectacle was ridiculed by the cool-kids in tech journalism, and more damagingly, Samsung was accused of being sexist.
The sexist accusation was based on the careless way Samsung tossed around cliches about women. In the production, a woman couldn’t stare at her screen because there’s a shirtless gardener in her view. Other women joked about wanting to marry doctors. There was more, but that gives you an idea.
What people didn’t realise is that just a few days before Samsung had a significantly more sexist event half way around the world in South Africa at the Samsung Africa Forum.
At the Africa Forum, it had young women in glittered out bras and swimsuits dancing around the stage while it talked about its refrigerators.
South African blog GirlGuide first wrote about the event, pointing out how terribly embarrassing it was. After the write up, others in the media picked up on the story, and Samsung apologized.
Michelle Potgieter, head of corporate communications sent this statement to GirlGuide:
“It has come to our attention that, following recent Samsung events, there was dissatisfaction by the use of the selected promotional/entertainment ladies to unveil and demonstrate the new line up of product/s. Samsung South Africa are committed to embracing a variety of consumers across our very diverse local market and in no way intended to isolate or offend any one of these audiences through these events.
As a result, we would like to apologise for any offence caused in this regard and assure you that we acknowledge your views and opinions on the matter. To this end, we will endeavour to be more sensitive around these issues going forward and will raise all relevant matters with our Head Quarters and respective regional head offices accordingly. Furthermore, Samsung would like to assure all media and consumers that we in no way intend to favour any particular type of consumer, where each consumer and target audience represents a viable portion of our business and as a result, we will continue to embrace all consumer needs and requirements within the market.”
Photos of the event come from Axel Bührmann, managing editor at Livdigital Independent, a South African news site.
Bührmann pointed out that Samsung’s event the year before was also unusual, but it had “women/men/acrobats/magicians, etc – not just scantily-dressed women” so it didn’t generate the same sort of attention.
We’ve reached out to Samsung for a comment but haven’t heard back.
Basically, it looks like Samsung just has weird launch events. Sometimes they tip towards being degrading to women. This isn’t unusual in technology, however. There are “booth babes” at just about every major tech conference. Sexism and tech tend to go together, unfortunately.
Here’s a photo from last year’s event, which didn’t create the same uproar, despite clearly being an unusual event:
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