High-tech ad is only for the ladies

A charity trying to improve life for girls has launched an interactive advertisement designed to give males a brief taste of discrimination.

Plan UK has launched the ad in a display on a bus stop in London’s Oxford Street, the British capital’s busiest shopping district. The display, which will be in place for two weeks, includes a camera that attempts to detect the gender of the person standing immediately in front of the ad space.

If the person is detected as female, she is offered the chance to press a button and see a 40 second advert about the charity’s campaign. If the person is detected as male, he simple sees a message referring him to the charity’s website, along with statistics backing up the campaign, such as 75 million girls being forced to leave education early.

The stunt is designed to highlight what it calls discrimination against girls worldwide as a result of poverty and discrimination. It’s aim is to “help 4 million girls through education, vocational training and improved opportunities.” The charity says that despite the advertising technique, it wants males to contribute to the campaign as well.

Although the total cost of installing and running the advertisement is £30,000 (approx US$50,000), the charity believes it will help it meet its target of raising £250,000 (approx $400,000) over the next four months.

The facial detection works by measuring a variety of features including the length of the jawline, the width of the nose, the distance between the eyes and the shape of cheekbones.

It’s said to guess gender correctly 90 percent of the time, which may be sufficient for use such as this (there haven’t been reports yet of users being outraged at being misidentified), but wouldn’t be close to accurate enough if there were genuine consequences from getting the gender wrong.


9 Responses to High-tech ad is only for the ladies

  1. I only support minority rights movements to the point where people take it too seriously. I have seen African Americans use their race as a tool or weapon to get what they want, I don't support that. There's always two sides to the card, this looks interesting though and I like the idea!

  2. I appreciate what they're trying to do, but this ad has the deeply troubling aspect of unwanted "outing" for transgender people.

    • If someone was transgender and didn't want to risk that, they could just… not interact with the advert.
      Or laugh and say they're in the 10% it got wrong.

      I'm more concerned (entertained?) with how many people will be offended if this gets them wrong.

    • Er, what? So, a computer that processes readily observable facial features is going to be revealing the closely held secrets of…readily observable facial features. Got it.

  3. I don't think discrimination is the best way to get someone involved. I can't say much more about the campaign as I don't know much else about it, but it seems to be going about things the wrong way.

  4. If the advert is "designed to highlight what it calls discrimination against girls worldwide" why not take the high road and treat everyone equally. Isn't that what they want, after all?

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