Winners of the eighth annual Sexist Piggie Awards (Sexistické prasátečko in Czech), an event that compiles the worst examples of sexism in advertising via online voting and a jury-selection, were announced earlier this month.
Among the usual line-up of scantily-clad women hawking political parties, fishing supplies, beer, and burritos, the jury chose as the most offensive ad a particularly explicit image of a spread-eagled woman wielding a strategically placed knife hovering near a slab of raw meat. (See the full photo gallery of winners here.)
According to competition organizers, the non-profit organization Nesehnutí, the problematic aspects of the ad include its use of “naked bodies and sexual elements with no connection to the product” and the ways it shows violence as “fun, exciting, and appealing.”
We reached out to Milan Pokorný, the professional knifemaker behind the ad who maintains that the image was not meant to be an ad at all, simply an artistic expression of his love for knives and beautiful women.
Mr. Pokorný went on to say that despite the fact that the photo was not intended for advertising purposes, his Sexist Piggie win has indeed boosted sales. He also notes that the photo was actually styled by a woman and that most of his female friends and relatives have said they are fine with it.
All of this brings a number of interesting questions to the surface. First off, have the awards become more harmful then they are enlightening by encouraging Czech companies to create increasingly provocative ads to drum up business? Second, are Czechs in general less sensitive to disturbing depictions of sexuality in advertisting?
Read this interview with Mr. Pokorný and weigh in:
Did you design this ad with the Sexist Pig Awards in mind?
The photo represents my artistic cooperation with photographer Marek Kubáček. I did not design the concept behind the photo, if I wanted to create an advert for my knives, I would have used a soldier, for who the DAFY knife is intended.
Have you received any negative publicity or hate mail since winning the award?
I did not notice any negative publicity, but it certainly was not meant to be used for the media or in headlines of Czech news and websites – I placed it on my Facebook profile, just like Marek did. It should have remained there.
Has the ad had an impact on your knife sales?
The publication of the photograph certainly had an impact on receiving new orders. I sold out my knives following a video published as part of the “Vyrobeno v Česku” series that same week.
How does this ad have any connection with your product?
I can‘t deny that I like women – I also like knives; this photo was supposed to represent a combination of both. The meat on the photo can appear provocative, but sometimes it is necessary to view things with a pinch of salt.
You cannot argue that depicting the female body as meat is degrading and disrespectful.
I agree with the statement – however, this is only one way of looking at it. Neither me nor Marek see the photo this way and it certainly did not come into being to degrade anyone. The reaction by women around me was 95% positive.
You’re not worried about having your product associated with, as one journalist said, “perversity and sadism?”
This is certainly not something that I am afraid of – if someone feels some sadistic or perverse notions when looking at a knife and some body curves, he or she should seek some help.
You don’t feel at all responsible for using a graphic image that perpetuates violence toward women?
I can’t imagine how exactly such a photo could perpetuate violence toward women. If however such a person indeed exists, I would be inclined to feel sorry for him/her and I would recommend institutional care for that person.
Do you hope to make the cut (pun intended) again next year?
This entire event was not planned and it is difficult to have anticipated it. If Marek and I continue with our cooperation and someone continues to feel offended by it, that is certainly a possibility. Our goal will continue to be to capture the beauty of knives and women.