Reebok Russia’s attempt to inject a progressive message into its recent marketing campaign has blown up in its face. This is because it was about face-sitting.
One of the empowering messages that appeared on Russian Reebok’s social media read, “Sit not on the needle of men’s approval—sit on men’s face.”
This text didn’t appear next to all of the promotional shots; just the one featuring Zalina Marshenkulova, a notable Russian feminist influencer.
Another image featured Justyna Graczyk, an MMA fighter. The text there translated to, “I covered my nipples so that you don’t cut yourself.”
According to RT, the Russian Reebok ads were intended to complement the “Be More Human” campaign that featured actress Gal Gadot, Gigi Hadid, and other very attractive and successful women.
I don’t really know what “be more human” actually means, or could mean—you’re either human or you’re not, after all. According to Reebok’s propaganda, though, “be more human” was ... well, predictable posi-core pablum about encouraging women to live up to their potential and change the world by buying the correct things.
Reebok’s Russian campaign falls in line with this general sentiment, more or less. It’s very much “be the change you want to see in the world,” although the change in question involves covering up a man’s face by sitting on it. This message is very empowering to me!
The Russian public didn’t see it this way. Reebok deleted the posts from Instagram shortly after they were posted due to a barrage of negative comments.
This delightful man tweeted that he’s “switching to Nike before someone sits on my face.” Here we see the great cycle of the free market at work, as Nike replaces the racist American customers it lost after featuring Colin Kaepernick in an advertising campaign.
In response to the controversy this campaign kicked up, Alexander Golofast, the lead marketing specialist for Reebok in Russia, said:
“It’s not a quote about violence, on the contrary, it’s a quote about the highest form of pleasure that a woman can get and can give to her partner. Most men perceive the topic of cunnilingus with extreme embarrassment and will definitely never publicly admit that they do it and, moreover, they like it. At the same time, blowjob is a completely approved by the society and common topic. So, with this quote, we are talking not about humiliating men - on the contrary, we are encouraging them to loosen up and the break the stereotypes”
The Reebok face-sitting story has gotten big enough in Russia to achieve meme status. This one translates to “Arya is looking for where to sit.”
It’s also being referenced in social media postings for other products. This one, which encourages women to purchase plane tickets, reads, “Get down from the needle of men’s approval and sit on a plane to Vienna.”