Brooke Fraser was right: There's something in the water. Well, something in the water at local advertising agencies and PR companies at least. What else can explain the plethora of sexist campaigns and events designed to bolster a brand's image while propagating outdated stereotypical gender-based notions and potentially alienating half the population?

Hallenstein Brothers, established in 1873 and once known simply as Hallensteins, came under fire when it hired a trio of Playboy bunnies to host "a 60s themed cocktail party at a cliff-top Takapuna mansion". Goodness knows what Bendix Hallenstein, company founder, merchant, politician and manufacturer, would have made of that.

The menswear label's Facebook page says that "New Zealand males have been loyal customers for generations" yet I'd imagine a fair share of their customers also might have been females buying shirts, singlets and socks for partners, husbands and sons - you know, women who might not be so inclined to answer the question: "If you had the opportunity, which Playboy Playmate would you try your best pickup line on?"

Dodgy retro influences must be the latest thing. While a menswear retailer is channelling Hugh Hefner, Moa beer has issued a prospectus that incorporates imagery influenced by the 1960s-based Mad Men television series. Among the graphs and financial information is a photograph of a short-skirted woman posing seductively with a beer bottle and another of a woman holding an ashtray for a cigar-wielding man in a (surely not from Hallensteins?) suit. There's also, er, a naked woman on a horse.


The men in the photographs are named and profiled. The women are not. They're nothing more than eye candy. Yet we're used to beer companies denigrating women. Tui beer has long been appealing to unsophisticated drinkers with its "irreverent" billboards but why a supposedly boutique brand of beer would eye up the same target market when making its initial public offering is a mystery. Moa has clearly discounted women as being prospective investors; they'll be too busy being short-skirted anonymous accessories so that's probably sensible.

But never fear, it's not just misogyny being promoted by the corporate world. Men have come in for some derogatory stereotyping too, courtesy of Lindauer's Don't Worry Boys advertisement starring a series of hapless men weeping because their girlfriends have left them at home. Evidently, "as much as guys hate to admit it, they're a little bit hopeless when their loved one leaves them to their own devices, even for just a night."

The men are portrayed as clingy, pathetic idiots who are unable to cope while their (female) partners are out partying on Lindauer wine. On National Girls' Night Out women were encouraged to "grab the girls and a bottle of your favourite Lindauer and head out for the night without the boys". Just like the Hallensteins and Moa examples, it's a divisive campaign that manages to be simultaneously patronising to both genders.

What do you think has sparked this wave of blatant sexism in advertising and PR campaigns? Does it offend you or is it all just a bit of a laugh?