Fast Company

Moto X Ads Try for Sexy, Achieve Corny

For its new Moto X smartphone, Motorola rolled out some ads with sexual undertones. They were not well-received.

On Thursday, Motorola unveiled its long-awaited new smartphone, the Moto X. WIth its customizable exterior and gesture-heavy UI, the phone was immediately subject to both applause and criticism. But after it released some of the first ads for the Moto X, the criticism got a bit louder.

The campaigns were both highly sexualized and gender-specific. One, which attempted to highlight the phone's ability to respond to its owner's voice, included the following text: "Moto X responds to your voice, no touching necessary. (That's what she said.)"

Under normal conditions, it's true that sex sells, but in this case, it just seems desperate. And I'd probably be less annoyed by the ad if it was a good use of that phrase, but as a self-proclaimed master of the "that's what she said" punchline (this is not my best quality), I have to shake my head in disapproval.

But it gets worse. Two other ads unabashedly pander to gender stereotypes. One, aimed at women, features an array of very pink, very sparkly products (and some Pop Rocks?) along with the words "Feminine mystique." If you look closer, you'll note the question: "Is bigger really better? You decide," in reference to the phone's various storage size options.

The male version of this ad features a bike chain, some pomade, and shaving tools, among other things.

In response to backlash, Motorola removed the "that's what she said" phrase, but the other ads remain, unaltered.

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13 Comments

  • Ryan

    Do we know who the agency involved with the campaign is? Personally, I blame the agency for this week campaign. Unless it has been done internally, which is what this looks like to me. The font treatment is horrible and it's hard to even find the phone you are trying to advertise in the male/female product shots. Just overall poorly done. 

  • unitedpattern

    Actually, they've changed the Feminine Mystique ad too. The sentence n size is gone now.

  • KAT

    Using "kemosabe" now that the new Lone Ranger has gotten non-Spanish speakers to look up its meaning... Is that really what they want to call their prospective customers?

  • Martin H

    Seriously.. The idea is that the moto x comes in any color you choose to match your personality. The two ads are examples and people are different, which is the whole point. Also, the "no touching necessary" is aimed at the iPhone, where you actually have to physically interact with the phone when using siri, with a contemporary saying thrown in to be more fun. It's not a good campaign but you are over-analyzing this and clearly projecting your own opinion of gender politics on this rather dull piece of advertising. 

  • JackHuang

    Thank you, Resident Ad Translator. It's easy to guess the intent of the mystique/kemosabe ads, since it's explicitly written on the ads. This only makes the actual items chosen that much more of a facepalm. I suppose that Motorola may specifically be targeting Miley Cyrus impersonators and Williamsburg hipsters, but I somehow doubt that.

    And yes, as overused as "That's what she said" is, the first ad has one of the worst usages I've seen yet.

  • Sothis

    Given everything that's wrong with those ads, it's nitpicking to point out the grammar fail in the 'Feminine Mystique' one, where it says 'ridiculous amount of options' instead of 'ridiculous number of options'. But it kind of turns it all from 'missed guess' to 'incompetent'.

  • Austinkthompson

    If you look at what the men's ad has I notice that it has pencils and a pencil bag (I think), and then what I can only think of as a ruler in the bottom right corner. More academic or school supplies. 

    Then the women's ad has a camera, make-up, candy, jewelry. 

    Nothing academic on the girls. Everything there is completely analogous to what a girly-girl is. 

    I feel that this isn't helping at all to show that not every girl has pink shoes, a pink phone and a purple glittery hat. 

  • JackHuang

    Not to mention that the girl's camera is the s---tiest camera I've seen in at least a decade. I mean, really?!

  • Ki Wiz

    Well I think they were trying to market to a lifestyle however they clearly missed the mark. Side note the second vertical line in the "men's" ad is way shorter than the first...looks like a typo.