sexist? ageist? racist? Auchan? You decide….

I happened to be passing the Auchan supermarket at Chambray-les-Tours, yesterday. The supermarket has created a ‘beach’ in the car park and is organising a number of summer games and activities including pétanque, volley ball and basketball. On the perimeter of the ‘beach’ there’s high mesh fencing which has been used to display colourful banners promoting the events.

Each banner has an ageist, sexist or racial stereotypical image. I looked at them, each in turn, and thought of the current ‘scandal’ involving Strauss-Kahn and defence of rape in sections of the French establishment, and, the continuing presence of the Front National in certain areas of France. Should such images be passed off as just ‘French’ or should they be challenged? Things were challenged and have moved on somewhat in the UK and such banners would not be produced by TESCO, Sainsbury’s, et al……or would they?

Anyway, here they are…..what do you think?

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About Jim McNeill

I am a blogger on 'The Social History of the Touraine region of France (37)' and also 'The Colonial History of Pennsylvania and the life & Family of William Penn'. I am a Director of Fresh Ground Group Ltd.
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5 Responses to sexist? ageist? racist? Auchan? You decide….

  1. Jim McNeill says:

    I did write to Auchan at Chambray about their banners (via their website).
    By reply they said the the Plage was for their shoppers and their families to use – and they were sorry that I was shocked by their banners. The full correspondance is below.
    Funnily enough our local SIMPLY mini-supermarket (owned by Auchan) has just put up banners promoting their summer range of products and includes an image of people of all ages and ethnicity ~ so some people in their marketing are thinking about inclusiveness. In fact the banners are a continuation of the promotional materials they developed when ATAC supermarkets were re-branded as SIMPLY.
    That’s it – I won’t go on about it any longer! – It’s back to the French Wars of Religion for me!!

    My initial mesage: :
    Hier j’ai visité un supermarché Auchan à Chambray-lès-Tours. Je tiens à s’opposer à l’utilisation des images sur les bannières de la pétanque parking publicité, volley-ball et basket-ball. Mon objection est que sur chaque bannière est une âgistes, image sexiste ou raciale stéréotypées.
    S’il vous plaît laissez-moi savoir ce que vous allez faire à ce sujet.

    Auchan’s reply:
    Bonjour Monsieur JIM MCNEILL

    Nous avons organisé une opération \”Chambray plage\” pour que nos clients (parents et enfants) puissent s’amuser en venant faire leur course dans notre magasin.

    Nous sommes désolés si nos affiches vous ont choqué.

    A très bientôt chez Auchan et sur

    L’équipe DIRECTION

  2. GaynorB says:

    I am a female Head of Science. We recently had a photographer in to take photographs a girl pupil who had achieved a high award with her project on flight and engineering. Firstly the photographer commented to the Headteacher that he was surprised to find a girl, and when she (the headteacher) suggested that he should talk to the Head of Science, the photographer asked where he could find him!!! .

    I think we have to challenge stereotypes promoted by large companies and corporations. They should have people in the positions of responsibility who are more aware.

    I’m also with Jean in saying that in our dealings with people around us, we are more tolerant, but still challenge the stereotypes in a more gentle and flexible way.

  3. Jim McNeill says:

    Hi Jean – Provided a speaker is not being malicious or deliberately hurtful I think that we (society) should not be nervous about airing how we feel and think about different issues, regardless of how sensitive they may be. The listener in such cases also has a responsibility not to jump upon people for expressing innocent remarks – that’s just bullying.
    Re the banners at Auchan ~ I am white, male and 61 – the banners are assuming/presuming that I should/could only play certain sports and partake in certain activities i.e. pétanque. Auchan, as a large corporation, has an equally large social responsibility here and should take care not to use stereotypes in its advertising and promotional materials. I think their lack of care and consideration in this case is offensive and from Auchan’s point of view it’s just plain, bad for business.
    My wife, Sandra, used to be a senior manager for the largest workwear company in Europe. She had such a struggle with her board to get them to include images of people in their catalogue which reflected the UK work-force (colour, age, sex). She succeeded in the end, though it was quite a struggle ~ and it took the board a while to get their (white, male) heads around the fact that having a catalogue full of white, young people was not actually good for business and was an embarrassment for their sales managers when negotiating orders with corporate clients. I remember that all this was about the same time that the image of Ian Wright (a famous black footballer) was used nationally to promote a sportswear brand ~ it was a real breakthrough at the time to see a positive image of a black man on billboards across the UK – that was only 15-20 years ago, but today such images would not attract comment.
    Anyway, Jean, thanks for following my blog and thank you so much for your comments – they mean a lot to me. Keep ‘em coming.

  4. jean says:

    This is a difficult one. I think political correctness has gone too far in the UK to ridiculous levels where you can’t have a normal conversation with a person until you have sussed out where they stand on this. You are afraid that someone will jump on you for a perfectly innocent remark.
    In France the culture of sexism is hardly defensible but I’m not sure normal people would take offence at those banners, I certainly wouldn’t.

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