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12 May 2020

Ladies First

by Syd Briscoe

Monopoly: “Ms Monopoly” - 3 mins 20s

While many brands would give their left arm for a viral marketing hit, not all such online sensations are positive. This three-minute effort has been widely shared across social media with captions to the effect of: 'You won't believe what this is trying to sell you'. And that, unfortunately for parent company Hasbro, is a rather accurate assessment.

It's an intriguing look at how the language of liberation is increasingly co-opted by clumsy ad campaigns, and how badly it can fall flat when the tone is off. Much like Kendall Jenner's infamous Pepsi protest, this patronising take on encouraging women in STEM doesn't feel remotely authentic.

From intrusively emotive music to stiffly-scripted comments about 'brilliant female minds' and 'imagining possibilities', the creators of this campaign clearly thought they'd be patted on the back by feminists far and wide. However, everything about both the ad and the game itself screams that it was conceived of solely by a group of middle-aged white men.

In addition to the film's bizarre tone, the updated rules for the board game itself inspire a similar wince. Female players are given more money than their male counterparts at every turn - in some condescending effort to address real-world inequality - and players can purchase inventions by women including 'chocolate chip cookies' and 'shapewear'.

Overall, this campaign smacks of infantalisation: young women don't need a board game to tell them they can achieve their dreams, they need proper institutional support and actual effort to address the sexism still rampant in STEM industries. Monopoly was originally created by Lizzie Maggie to 'demonstrate the rampant inequality caused by capitalist greed'... and we get the feeling she wouldn't be too impressed by the pink-washing of her work.

Director: Daniele Anastasion ♀
1st AD: Dario Cappellini
Cinematographer: Kyle Pahlow

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