This week, The Hollywood Reporter announced exclusively that TV channel Discovery was undergoing what it calls a “global brand refresh” that is supposed to “emphasize its global reach and give a cohesive look to its various properties around the world.”
“Discovery’s global rebrand celebrates the legacy of our brand while refreshing it for the future. It was important for us to remind our fans who we are at our core while extending it out to the next generation,” said Lara Richardson, group executive vp marketing for Discovery and Science. “‘The World Is Ours’ tagline represents what Discovery has always stood for and continues to be the driving inspiration for our future.” (THR)
As part of the re-brand, the channel has adopted a new tagline, “This Is Our World.” Yesterday, Discovery dropped a new ad as a part of the brand refresh. The reaction probably wasn’t exactly what they were hoping for.
Let’s start, though, by taking a look at the ad. It’s only 30 seconds long, so it shouldn’t be too much a burden to ingest this particular corporate messaging.
— Discovery (@Discovery) April 1, 2019
That’s a pretty catchy ad, and “Hooked on a Feeling” is an earworm if ever there was one. But remember how I said the reaction to the commercial probably hasn’t been exactly what Discovery was expecting? Well, that’s because the commercial, while catchy and fun, and certainly well-meaning with the message to explore the world around us, is practically devoid of females at all.
Go ahead, re-watch it. Watch the whole thing, and note all the women you count. Don’t feel bad if you have to watch it a few times, either. It takes a pretty keen eye to catch the woman in the screenshot below, because it’s part of a wide-angle, two second moment of the commercial…
…and she’s in a bikini.
By our count, there are 25 men in the commercial, and the single woman is shown for less than a second, in a bikini.
Let me be perfectly clear — I am not accusing Discovery of being sexist. I’m not saying they’re part of the toxic patriarchy keeping women subjugated. I’m just saying that in 2019, in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements attempts to move society to a place where we don’t just fundamentally view women as sex objects, it’s a stumble and a half to rebrand with a commercial that doesn’t feature any female hosts, except when in a bikini and for two seconds, and I’m not even sure that the woman you see in the ad is even a host.
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What we see a whole lot of is the channel’s male hosts, who include comedian Rob Riggle and Adam Savage of MythBusters fame. It’s hard to come away from the commercial and not get the sense that the hosts and shows they’re spotlighting in the rebrand are male dominated ones. And, hey, maybe that’s what their brand refresh is all about — capturing more male viewers. In all fairness to Discovery, they’re not History Channel, whose turn from educational programming couldn’t be more apparent in their Ancient Aliens series; at least it appears that Discovery is still trying to put out relatively informative programming.
But the lack of women in the commercial didn’t go unnoticed. Right away, a certain segment of the population kind of noticed they weren’t being represented in the spot.
I literally only saw one woman for 1 second and she was in a bikini lmao. Uhhhh I cannot be the only one that noticed this?
— Kristi Ambrose (@TheMoneyGuru7) April 1, 2019
This woman used to work for Discovery so her reply stings doubly hard.
hey Discovery remember me? A woman who worked for you? Just letting you know women like science and exploring and learning too.
— Julia Wilde (@Julia_SCI) April 2, 2019
She followed it up with this, which is of course anecdotal and unconfirmed on the other side, but it certainly, again, isn’t a good look for Discovery. And if the story holds up, someone should remind that CEO that Sigourney Weaver did an amazing job narrating the U.S. version of Planet Earth.
the CEO of Discovery once told me he didn't like women narrating nature docs bc their voices aren't "authoritative enough" https://t.co/fyv2larCn2
— Julia Wilde (@Julia_SCI) April 2, 2019
The Space Gal, the Emmy-nominated host and executive producer of Exploration Station on Fox, Emily Calandrelli, tweeted her WTF-ness at Disovery.
— Emily Calandrelli (@TheSpaceGal) April 2, 2019
Here are some more not-so-positive takes:
— LindaLindaLinda (@LindaDrummond) April 2, 2019
Literally one woman and she’s naked
— Alie Ward (@alieward) April 2, 2019
Hey @Discovery could you really not come up with a single female scientist or explorer to include in this promo? What kind of a message are you trying to send to your viewers? Until that changes I won't be one.
— Dr. Allison Jacobel (@AJacobel) April 1, 2019
Damn, @Discovery, more like hooked on a glass ceiling. The ONLY woman in this ad appears 24 seconds in, is being lead by a man, & is mostly nude. As a longtime fan & former DDN host/writer, this thinly veiled misogyny is terribly disappointing but not surprising. pic.twitter.com/C8h1U55pJD
— Natalia Reagan (@natalia13reagan) April 2, 2019
New brand: no women?
— Anastacia Darby (@AnastaciaDarby) April 1, 2019
— Jen Roberts (@jshermanroberts) April 2, 2019
Hey there @Discovery networks! I host one of your shows on @ScienceChannel – TOMORROW'S WORLD TODAY – which is in your network family. I'll volunteer to insert myself so there's a woman in this mix!! Here are some ideas for graphics to get you started: pic.twitter.com/nx4UIv4RYp
— Tamara Krinsky (@tamarakrinsky) April 2, 2019