— Lucy Westcott (@lvzwestcott) December 3, 2013
This ad, displayed at the Metro Center station, is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s campaign to highlight its new strategic plan. And it’s earning the agency lots of buzz after Lucy Westcott, a political correspondent at Capital News Service, tweeted it on Tuesday. But it may not be the kind of buzz WMATA was looking for.
New York Magazine blasted it with a headline that read: “Ladies Only Want to Chat Footwear in This Casually Sexist Public Transit Ad.” There was Jezebel: “The Subway: Your New Home for Romance and Sexist Stereotyping.” Then came BuzzFeed with the very straightforward: “Washington D.C.’s Metro System Just Released A Really, Really Sexist Ad.” (Note: sometimes being understated is the best strategy)
Who knew writing about public transportation could be so fun?!
Westcott, a graduate student at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, said she spotted the ad out of the corner of her eye as she was riding up the escalator at Metro Center then doubled back to shoot a quick picture of it.
“I personally think it was sexist, but the reason I tweeted it was because I think people should pay more attention to advertising campaigns [and the messages they send],” she said. The response was immediate.
Within five minutes folks were retweeting and tweeting her. Most, she said, agreed with her point of view. A few tried to argue that if the ad included two men — one talking about say, football, it wouldn’t be labeled “sexist.” But Westcott disagrees.
“I understand what the message was behind Metro’s decision to do that ad, but it could have been done in a better way,” she said.
But folks did have a sense of humor about it, as BuzzFeed noted, hightlighting some creative Twitterverse rewrites.
— Drew Olsen (@DrewJOlsen) December 3, 2013
— Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser) December 3, 2013
We have a call into Metro officials to get their response to the outcry.
In the meantime, Westcott, who is originally from the United Kingdom, will graduate with her master’s degree in three weeks is set to head north for an internship at Newsday. In the meantime, she’s looking for freelance work. Perhaps, Metro could use a little writing help?