by Imran Siddiquee
Mary on Facebook alerted us to these advertisements for a line of products being sold by Shoals Technologies (they’re also throwing a party tonight celebrating the products at the 2012 Solar Power International convention). Shoals is one of the largest solar manufacturing companies in the world, and their product is called “Nice Rack.” Really.
I don’t really know what these actual “racks” do (I’m imagining they mount solar panels? Maybe?), and I have questions about the naming of the product itself (did they name an entire line of products “Nice Rack” just so they could make ads with women in bikinis!?), but in any case Shoals’ marketing is beyond lazy here. It’s crude and offensive.
These ads not only diminish and trivialize women, but they discourage them from entering a field of work where they are already underrepresented. They also encourage men within the industry to continue to see women as outsiders – valuable only for their beauty and sexuality.
When an influential company like Shoals throws a “Nice Rack” party – the self-proclaimed “biggest solar party of the year,” which is taking place during one of the biggest industry weekends of the year (According to this site, last year’s Solar Power International Event was attended by 24,000 professionals and over 1,200 exhibitors) – they are implying some pretty shallow things about the professional people who will actually be attending said event.
Back in May, when Shoals announced the “Nice Rack” line of products, at least one man in the industry pointed this out:
Shoals tech group speaker said they have a racking solution called “nice rack” i know this is a male-dominated industry but oy vey #gtmss12
— Carter Lavin (@CarterLavin) May 2, 2012
If the advertisements and naming of the product weren’t offensive enough, the company’s response to Mary’s complaint is perhaps even more telling about the mindset at Shoals and of the people who likely approved all of this:
They aren’t just dismissive of Mary, but they mock her concern. Overall, Shoals comes across as an arrogant and sexist (not to mention entirely uncreative) boy’s club.
If anyone is in the market for some solar products, it goes without saying that you should stay clear of these guys for the time being. But the company is also on Twitter, @ShoalsTech, so we can let them know directly that as long as they treat women like this, we are definitely #NotBuyingIt:
UPDATE: The company responded to users’ many #NotBuyingIt tweets with predictable mockery.
And in case there was any doubt about how intentional the whole “Nice Rack” campaign is, they also tweeted this picture from last night’s official company-sponsored “party.”
UPDATE II: Shoals continues to belittle efforts of Twitter users (men and women) who call out their sexist advertising:
We have loved the entertainment the #NotBuyingIt girls have provided today. Thank you for making the slowest day of the show fun.
— Shoals Technologies (@ShoalsTech) September 13, 2012
The company has also begun re-tweeting people’s #NotBuyingIt tweets in an attempt to poke fun at them. Which just reiterates how little respect they seem to have for their potential customers. Women make 86% of purchasing decisions in America, but why would anyone – male or female – continue to buy Shoals products knowing that this is how you are treated when you have a legitimate complaint?
UPDATE III: Shoals begins deleting some tweets
Shoals Twitter account is not changing course:
There are signs that they may have started to catch our drift though, as they’ve begun deleting some of these tweets. Including this one directed at a #NotBuyingIt user:
Constance C. alerted us to this LinkedIn profile image of the President and CEO of the company, which explains a lot:
Mr. Solon is also on Twitter, and you can tweet him by clicking below:
UPDATE V: Shoals tweets an apology! (Sort of)
Apparently openly disrespecting and demeaning people is considered “light hearted fun”? We’ll continue to pressure the company tomorrow and keep you updated on any developments!
UPDATE VII: Shoals apologizes and pledges to end ad campaign:
Over on their official Facebook page, the company just posted this:
“In light of the response our recent ads have had, we at Shoals Technologies Group would like to sincerely apologize. Our corporate culture is one of lighthearted fun and sarcasm, but our frat boys, as they’ve been aptly called, can sometimes go too far. The Green Tech Industry is progressive and innovative, and we are proud to be a part of it. We are leading the way in revolutionizing the solar industry with our products, and have long left behind stuffy corporate attitudes. We have great respect for the women in our industry, and encourage more women to get into solar. Our mama’s raised us right, so please accept our apology.”
UPDATE VIII: Shoals mysteriously takes down Facebook page and apology
But we have a screenshot of the original message and comment which pledged to stop the ad campaign:
We’ve reached out to the company for comment and are awaiting a response.
Imran is the Social Media and Communications Manager at MissRepresentation.org. Follow him on Twitter @imransiddiquee