Startup phone company OnePlus made a blunder of a promotional contest yesterday by asking ladies to post pictures of themselves with the OnePlus logo to then be judged by men. The top 50 ladies would get a free t-shirt and a chance to buy the phone- at full price.
OnePlus, a Chinese tech startup, recently released their first phone, but have since run into production issues. To ameliorate the supply/demand situation, they are selling phones by invite only. To expand on promotion, they decided to host yesterday’s “Ladies First” contest. Lasting only one day, the contest was taken down for the massive amounts of sexism complaints it was getting from women.
The contest only received a few submission. Some were by men who photoshopped the OnePlus logo on pictures of women, others were of women who posted against the contest.
According to The Verge, one woman posted her picture along with:
“This contest is sexist and insulting. Way to inflict self-esteem issues, we don’t have enough of those in our society.”
The company released this statement after taking down the contest yesterday at 3PM ET:
“OnePlus is thrilled to have a small but growing number of women active in our online community. We want to encourage even more women to get involved with and excited about the amazing things happening in tech right now. The ‘Ladies First’ contest was a very misguided effort by a few isolated employees to do just that, however there is no question the post not only failed to better include our female community but actually perpetuated a stereotype that OnePlus in no way supports or condones. We deeply regret any offense caused by this contest.”
So if you are planning any type of promotional contest for your startup, don’t be stupid and plan it where people judge other people, male or female- it won’t end well. Especially if there isn’t even a discount on your product.