The full-page magazine advertisement for New Zealand pork was kind of cute. It featured an easy pork belly recipe couched in very simple terms: "whack the pork belly on a baking tray" and "Put it back in oven. Drink one beer (15 minutes)." It was blokey. It was good-natured. Sure, it relied heavily on stereotypes from another era; the women-are-stuck-in-the-kitchen-and-men-can't-cook idea has lost its currency. But the humorous execution made such a premise almost forgivable. It was the reference to "watch a Grand Slam final of women's tennis" while the pork cooked that served as a clue to the questionable attitudes towards women at the heart of this campaign.

The NZ Pork ad. Photo / 100% NZ Pork
The NZ Pork ad. Photo / 100% NZ Pork

More was revealed at the associated website which was rich in cliché and stereotype. Its billing as "the world's very first recipe hub designed just for men" is at odds with the fact there's a "Mum's mode" and a "Bloke's mode". Women are invited to rate their man's performance in the kitchen and men are given tips on "[h]ow to stay manly in the kitchen"; these include "Crush the garlic with your bare hands" and "Never tuck the phone under your chin and chat to your mum whilst cooking." So the website is drawing on gender-based, hetero-normative stereotypes but, because it's also trying to be funny, the jury is out on how offensive this all is. I'd say it's fairly harmless.

But the 30-second commercial on the website was a step too far for me. The voiceover knowingly identified "gratuitous shots of women wearing not much" as "gratuitous shots of women wearing not much". Presumably it was intended that we find humour in this deliberate failure to be PC but most feminists would have found it inappropriate. Note to advert makers: Women in bikinis must not be used to sell products - unless, of course, you're in the swimwear business.

Anyway, the advertisement ends with the cringe-worthy expression "ya missus'll love you for it". With all the overt sexism and objectification of women, it's easy to miss the fact that this campaign is encouraging men to cook. Still I'm not buying the-ends-justifies-the-means argument. Overall it left me feeling a bit queasy. The deeper I delved, the more it revealed the misogyny at its core. But I'm not the target market so presumably the powers-that-be at New Zealand pork would not be concerned about my response.


Watch the 30-second commercial here:

However there's a whole other segment of New Zealand society that just might be of interest to the pork people. Where I saw sexism and hackneyed attitudes towards women, some men will have seen the same offences committed against their gender. The portrayal of men as beer-swilling incompetents is guaranteed to raise the ire of some consumers.

Whenever stereotypes are discussed, reader responses make it clear that men are just as irked as women by being portrayed negatively in the media. "Men/dads are regularly portrayed as overweight, balding, bumbling, bad at cooking, lazy, dirty, hairy, unsophisticated, beer-swilling, immature, rugby-addicted boof-heads, but you don't hear us moaning," said one.

Another wrote: "Ever read the Reader's Digest column called 'Mere Female'? Mere Male is a real thing. Ever seen a sitcom where the husband isn't an overweight doofus? Ever see the nappy ads where mum says 'silly daddy'?" This person is unlikely to be impressed with the pork campaign that represents men as decidedly basic creatures. Still you have to award New Zealand pork full marks for giving almost everyone something to complain about. At least they're not being discriminatory about who they offend.

What do you think about the New Zealand pork campaign? Is it funny or offensive?