Reebok Russia stirs controversy with 'face-sitting' slogan in feminist ad campaign

Boards with Reebok store logo in Russia, 2016
Boards with Reebok store logo in Russia, 2016 Copyright REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Copyright REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
By Euronews
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Reebook's new feminist ad campaign in Russia stirred controversy with its 'face-sitting' slogan, deleted a few hours after its publication.


“Sit not on the needle of men’s approval – sit on men’s face.”

The provocative slogan could have come straight from a Femen protest but it was actually featured in an advert by sportswear company Reebok in Russia.

It was posted on the company's Instagram account on Thursday and deleted a few hours later in the wake of the controversy.

Social media users expressed outrage at the slogan's alleged bad taste, with some even deeming it “threatening".

The images and video were quickly restored, except for the sexually-suggestive remark.

"Unfortunately, after the publication of some pictures, it became clear that part of the content could not be published on behalf of the brand due to the age policy of the social network," Reebok Russia said on its Instagram page.

Nevertheless, Reebok's marketing director, Alexander Golofast, who was behind the idea, resigned over the scandal on Friday.

Speaking to Euronews, Golofast said he was disappointed with the company's backtrack on the campaign.

"The company showed disrespect for itself: it signed up to this, approved all the quotes, was even delighted with how bold and interesting and in line with the global strategy to do something bright and unusual," he said.

Golofast justified the ad in saying: "In this slogan, there are two parts: approval and pleasure. The first part calls for being yourself, and the second part calls for people to give each other pleasure. This is the most positive quote that is the best to reflect the image of a modern woman, who not only spits on stereotypes but also a woman who goes into the world with a positive agenda.

Adding, the campaign was "a huge success.... I think nobody ever spoke that much of Reebok in Russia, in the world it hasn't happened since the 90s".

Reebok recently launched a global advertising campaign promoting female empowerment under the hashtag #BeMoreHuman. It features celebrities such as actress Gal Gadot or model Gigi Hadid encouraging other women to be strong and assertive.

The Russian version was launched on Thursday with a hashtag that roughly translated as #OutOfControl.

Feminist Zalina Marshenkulova was among those who shared her own version of the English slogan "never apologise for being strong", resulting in the 'face-sitting' comment.

Following the online outcry, Marshenkulova took to Facebook: "God, save Russia from me and from cunnilingus,” she said mockingly.

Господи, спаси Россию от меня и от кунилингуса

Publiée par Zalina Marshenkulova sur Jeudi 7 février 2019

Before the scandal, Marshenkulova told her Telegram followers that she thought Reebok was joking and would never accept the wording of her slogan.

"And here we are launching an advertisement, where one of the slogans (no kidding) is my famous 'Stop sitting on the needle of male approval, start sitting on men's faces'!

"Because it's time to stop worrying about what others think of you, stop being afraid of being NOT THE GOOD KIND of woman, stop adjusting your life and your looks to what your partner or neighbour said," she exulted.

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