WASHINGTON – Metro is putting its foot down and standing behind a controversial ad involving women and shoes.
The ad shows two women talking about Metro.
One woman says, “A Metrobus travels about 8,260 miles between breakdowns. Didn’t know that, did you?”
The other woman says, “Can’t we just talk about shoes?”
The ad campaign is designed to be a series of unlikely conversations among people who are juxtaposing a wonky fact about Metro’s improvement efforts with a light response.
Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet, a national woman’s advocacy group, calls the ad “sexist, stupid and offensive.”
“The PR failure shows just how little Metro Forward thinks of its everyday passenger, and highlights how out of touch the system is with the DC-area residents that they serve,” Thomas says in a news release.
Metro has received several calls about the ad.
Spokeswoman Morgan Dye tells WTOP, “The point is to get people talking about Metro’s massive rebuilding effort by juxtaposing technical facts with a variety of light responses in conversation between friends.”
“They’re conversations that were intended to poke a little bit of fun at ourselves at Metro for the transit speak, for which we’re becoming increasingly known when we’re talking about capital improvements,” says Lynn Bowersox, assistant general manager for customer service, communications and marketing.
The ad was created by two women.
Bowersox approved the ad campaign, and she directly addresses those who believe it to be sexist and feed on stereotypes.
“Any topic of conversation of interest to women, whether it’s bus reliability or shoes, is in fact what we talk about and shouldn’t be judged for,” she says.
“In this instance the conversation was supposed to be a light one,” she says. “We’re standing by the ad.”
Below is a photo of the Metro ad, tweeted by Lucy Westcott Tuesday morning:
— Lucy Westcott (@lvzwestcott) December 3, 2013
WTOP’s Ari Ashe and Andrew Mollenbeck contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.