Society: Gentlemen prefer bonds

Last week, I noticed some sexist advertising on the London Underground. ‘Gentleman prefer bonds’, according to the online ‘retail stockbroker’ the Share Centre.

While I have no interest in stockbroking, or any idea what ‘sharedealing’ is, there are millions of women who do. Many invest, some even work in finance. There are women travelling on the tube every day who might actually want to use this site.

So what a way to alienate a proportion of your market – by implying that only ‘gentleman’ are interested in bonds.

Referencing ‘Gentleman Prefer Blondes’ is crappy in more than one way. It’s pretty racist for one thing. It also implies that gentlemen prefer their women stupid (‘blonde’). It’s one of the stalest sexist stereotypes in circulation.

In the context of finance, blondes are ‘bonds’ – commodities to be shared and played with by men. The ad says “Investing in the stock market isn’t gold-digging, it’s common sense.”

So, I shamed them on Twitter.

The Share Centre 4

(Sorry about the shaky pic, I was on an escalator.)

I asked people to contact them and ask why they thought the ad was OK:

The Share Centre 3

The Share Centre’s response was, “it’s an iconic film title – can you come up with anything better?”

(It’s not very hard. It took me 5 minutes to come up with something that wasn’t sexist – a western theme of ‘Make few dollars more’ and ‘Once upon a time to invest’. You can have that one for a nominal fee, the Share Centre.)

The Share Centre

Someone at the Share Centre offered to give me a call, to discuss what I thought was so wrong with the ad.

I spoke to Ian in marketing, a very nice man, who explained to me again that it was an iconic film title (which I explained I did get) and asked what I thought was wrong with the title?

I said that it alienated female customers as it suggested that investment banking and finance is a man’s world.

He told me, “Only about 20% of our customers are women. Our customer base is mostly men, that’s just the way finance is.”

That’s just the way it is.

He also explained the theme alluded to an iconic film title (yes, I did understand that, Ian), that they were running other ads in a similar vein, including “The man with the Golden Bond”.

“Ian, that’s another title referring only to men!”

Ian, investment banking is a sector dominated by men not because ‘that’s the way it is’, but because of numerous obstacles, including inflexible working hours for mothers (women who take time off to have children are “worth less” to finance than men, according to Nigel Farage) and not enough women to coach female graduates. Plus, the simple fact that people hire people like themselves. Men beget men.

I asked Ian if he realised that many potential female customers may already feel barred from a career in finance because of the barriers they face and that this advert could alienate them further.

Women already think they shouldn’t be interested in finance and this ad is perpetuating the ‘Old Boy’s Club’ mentality of the financial world, bold as brass on the London Underground. I explained that ‘the way it is’ has to change to be inclusive of women.

Ian said only about 20% of The Share Centre’s customers were women. That’s odd, because women make up 60% of the global workforce across the financial services industry.

But women hold only 14% of board seats and 2% of CEO positions. That’s why the Share Centre doesn’t care about that 60%.

As a consumer you command respect from the brands you seek out. The Share Centre has made it clear that a fifth of their customer base is unworthy of any respect at all.

Ian assured me that extensive market research had been carried out on these ads (about 1000 people, mostly online I think), and that the response had been unanimously positive.

“I’d like to know what the demographic of that group was”, I asked.

“Yes, it was largely men, though there was a female contingency.” (I’m not sure what a ‘female contingency’ makes up, but i’m guessing not a lot.)

Ian assured me that my opinions would be “taken on board”. “With all due respect, Ian, i’m only one person who happened to raise the issue on Twitter. What difference is my voice going to make?”

Oh it will, Ian said. He’d been discussing the comment with his team for most of the day.

I hope it will make a difference and the fact that they called me suggested that they either respected my opinion, or got a scare from me shouting my mouth off online. Twitter can have that affect on brands.

I’ve got about 1,200 followers – not loads, but enough to make an impact. I’m sure Ian understands how quickly fat can catch in an online fire, especially when it comes to the ‘discussion of the moment’, feminism.

Perhaps they’ll choose a 50-50 male/female split the next time they run market research. I hope so.

If a brand disrespects you, because of gender, race or sexuality, I urge you to make a noise about it on social media. I think it makes a difference, and as a consumer, it’s the best weapon in your arsenal.

Featured image from

Blog: Social Media Week #SMWLDN: The death of Facebook, how fashion can benefit from social media & the rise of the #

Guest post by Nadia Ramoul

Okay, so once a year serious users of social media stomp out together as an army of tech-loving, iPad-wielding, facebook-ing, instagram-ing and tweet-ing geeks. And they aren’t ashamed to show it. This parade is called Social Media Week, or known by #smwldn in London.

You, yes you, like me and many many others are most likely a member of Facebook and probably Twitter amongst a myriad of other affiliate social media platforms. Interestingly Facebook, the leader of the social media boom, has grown so large that apparently if it was a country it would be the third biggest. In. The. World. Wowsers. That is scary stuff considering it only started a few years ago.

Social media has grown into the greatest, trendiest phenomenon in society AND a tool for businesses to use, with best practice tactics, measurements and content being highly sought after for today’s leading brands, bloggers and social media experts. This brings us to the buzz of #smwldn, a week that facilitates dynamic discussions, seminars and events across the globe on the social media frenzy.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend a few of the most prominent seminars on my personal interests – fashion and social media best practice – and I figured to embark on #smwldn I too had to become an iPad-wielding social media geek (which seemed to fit quite well on me tbh). Obviously with my own twist as I went with a cute Missoni-patterned notepad to match my iPad cover. Now is that #trendy? Or #colourcoordinated? Or #supergeeky?


Day 1: Fashion Instagram and UGC – that’s User Generated Content btw

The first discussion I attended for #smwldn was on Fashion and Instagram. It centred on how big brands can ‘empower’ their users to make content and aggregate interest for their brands through using Instragram. This action of ‘letting customers have a conversation of their own and speak for themselves’ it is hoped could lead to mass interest, sales generation and possibly brand devotion. For instance I am obsessed with WAH Nails on Instagram and I don’t even wear acrylics – I swear.  This beautiful and sought-after process is often called UGC, User Generated Content, obvs because users generate the content. Keep up.

The first thing I noticed about this seminar was just how chic and stylish these ambassadors for social media were, cementing the fact that this wasn’t just a techies game but an arena where fashionistas’ seemed to be maximising their creativity and style just as much as their knowledge of how to ‘share’ or tweet something. The stand-out insights from panellists Karinna Nobbs (a tremendous fashionista with a sharp bob and lecturer at the London College of Fashion), Kat McDuffy (Phd Student, blogger and vintage-extraordinaire) and Jonathan Pryce (big-time blogger, snazzy suit wearer and digital marketing consultant) whet my appetite for social media week because not only did they present accurate stats and great case studies, but through their own expert understanding of social media they underlined how great a companion social media is for the community of fashion lovers everywhere. In case you aren’t on Instagram find a friend and/or stranger and you will see that this fantastically visual platform is definitely the way forward, and that was basically the gist of what this seminar was about, sprinkled with interesting facts about the top players in the game, how-to advice and fancy pictures of websites. Great one though.

Day 2: Fashion + Pinterest – do I have an interest? AND Facebook: Best practice and….corporate sales?!

Day 2 for my #smwldn adventure included an early start at Beyond Retro followed by a trip to the Official Hub of THE Facebook.

I wondered why I had to trek to Dalston to learn about Pinterest with many of the previous day’s panel members (except for the inclusion of the stylish Sophia Zydenbos and the Head of PR at Beyond Retro) but I soon realised why they choose this quaint and trendy café in East London – it borders a Beyond Retro (awesome), sells great coffee and offered a sweet boyband-chair set up for the panel members which was too cute not to capture.


I won’t detail everything about this seminar (because there is a link to the slides at the end of this blog) and because to be honest I don’t really get on with Pinterest. It is similar to Instagram which I already love, wherein users share photos and like/comment about them, but you can ‘pin’ pictures onto ‘boards’ you create and there are some other funky additions too but essentially it shares a similar purpose. Again some extremely fascinating points were raised by the panellists including suggestions for cutting through what was affectionately labelled ‘the puppies and cupcakes of Pinterest’. Inspiration mood-boards and trend-tribe groups were the order of the day for Pinterest according to this conversation. But, the overall resounding opinion of Pinterest, from my perspective at least, was that it is a new ‘trending’ version of social media and aesthetically powerful because of its high quality images, however it is difficult to use for the first time and for me lacks that community feel that Instagram has already easily obtained. Therefore I say Pinterest- I aint got no Interest, even if the average user does spend between 45-90 minutes on you.

To crown the end of my social media adventure I decided to mix it up and attend a seminar not centred around fashion but from the perspective of a social media platform itself. I attended Facebook: Best Practice and Measurements.  After finding the doorway to THE Facebook and exiting the small lift to the show floor I took in my surroundings, expecting to see a white rabbit scuttle across my feet and the Mad Hatter to be sitting in a hammock with Mike Zuckerburg (Facebook founder – der). But to my discontent, although there WERE cosy-as-hell sofas and benches and other random chairs and ‘creative sh*t’, the ‘non-corporate’/ ‘we are your friends’ feel did not sit with the uber corporate seminar content which was about to ensue.

Facebook – Newsfeed obsession, utilising the ‘right-hand side’ and ‘telling stories’

For me using Facebook used to be fun, personal and somewhere to store my photos as well as obviously stalking my friends (be honest, we all do it). But a little while back Facebook kinda sold its soul (literally shares are available now) and started to morph into a corporate, ad-feeding machine which big brands like Amazon and Coca-Cola honed in on. This discussion started late because the wonderfully put together American dude hosting said he had just flown in from LA or something and obviously is so wrapped up in Facebook-world he had no comprehension of time. Anyway… Eric Edge, the name of the Head of Comms for Facebook and the host, genuinely provided amazing, fantastical stats about the greatness of using Facebook properly, which was actually really insightful and I felt useful for businesses. The innovative Facebook strategies, such as utilising ‘the right-hand side’ (for Facebook workers it cannot be called advertising) in order to remain on ‘newsfeed’ and revealing that users are 100-180% more likely to engage with photos/ videos than just text were great to know BUT Eric’s one-line sales pitches sprinkled throughout were gaggingly great and overtly obvious.

Eric was waxing on about how ‘newsfeed is the newspaper headlines of our personal lives’ and spewing one-line anecdotes to market Facebook about how ‘each page on Facebook is a personal story in our lives which we must tell’ blah, blah, blah. All the while the tech saavy army surrounding this dude are – or at least should be – aware that Facebook, even with its spectacular following, is being outgrown by its newer companion Twitter. Twitter allows for what us social media geeks call, ‘organic growth’, in terms of the way conversations and trends evolve and provides a less stringent and controlled version of communication. Hashtags from Twitter have now become a part of #everydaylife. AND to top it all Eric didn’t even allow for questions as if Facebook can no longer be questioned. Apparently Facebook speaks for itself (see below).


#smwldn was great and in particular the fashion discussions were insightful and engaging, if not for the eye-opening content of the seminars then to see the marvellous outfits of the most stylist social media soldiers of today. One thing though that I cannot shake is the looming shadow of ‘corporate Facebook’ and how it’s evolving nature has unveiled a nastier side to social media, which I think Twitter is trying to evade as it still essentially represents a more social and community driven platform. That said please feel free to add me as friend on Facebook if you like this or disagree with my views but definitely give me, and even some of the fashion panel members I cited, a follow on Twitter for sure. To be truly social of course.

NOTE: The chic-er-than-chic Karinna Nobbs kindly shared many of the fantastic fashion slides here in case you want more information:

Follow me – @BowTieBoy_CD | Follow me on Instagram @canerdaywood


Blog: The Joy of Missing Out

Guest post by Nadia Ramoul 

Recently my Twitter feed has been awash with the concept of FOMO – that’s Fear Of Missing Out – leading to an addiction to social media.

Reports abound of students feeling symptoms akin to nicotine withdrawal when separated from their beloved Facebook accounts for under 24 hours and a profound inability not to tweet an Instagrammed, lo-fi photo of their lunch complete with pretentious recipe. Maybe not that last point but you know where I’m heading with this.

As someone who works in this field and thus spends the majority of the day on social networks, I confess: I can’t abide Facebook.

Despite being previously omnipresent on the blue monster, I’ve taken to shunning it, my gut swimming with heavy dread whenever I am notified of something happening on there. Where before it had been useful in keeping contact with otherwise estranged friends, it also tapped into the bleak little inner-child bit of me that was almost perversely voyeuristic while petrified of being perceived as a dullard. Ew. Pathetic, right?

This soon passed however to give way to something else. FOMO (defined as “the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out — that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you.”) didn’t seem to have me fully in its clutches. Something else created my unease: the wash of information from the painfully mundane to the nauseatingly personal that flooded my feed was a bit much, overwhelming even. Yet I, as many of us do, gobbled up more and more until I was brimming over with useless tidbits and baby photos.

This feeling gradually shifted but stayed in essence as my ‘it’s complicated (geddit? eh? EH?) relationship with Facebook withered. I started to hide people from my news feed, max out my privacy, go on brazen deleting sprees and block everybody from reviled exes to people who had once possibly looked at me funny at a party two years ago. The idea that people could have a peek into my life when I was going out of my way to avoid peeking into theirs bothered me.

I’m not joking. I went from breezily not caring what others are doing to actively avoiding it. This continued until my feed consisted of the updates of approximately 30 people, most of whom I would see regularly anyway, thus negating the point of it in the first place. Being unaware of the lives of others and them being unaware of mine as in those beautiful days Before Facebook gave me a palpable sense of relief. Maybe this is the other side of FOMO?

This isn’t to say the news feed is the downfall of civilization (or perhaps it is?) but many studies have shown the very real varieties of stress that this oversharing brings. Facebook is like a sleazy guy at a bar that knows way too much about you while trying to sell his snake-oil. He might be clever and vaguely harmless but he’s underhand, he sniffs around your circle all night until you’ve had a drink or two and feel charitable enough to let him speak a while. Like a bad stink he then looms everywhere, over every interaction his watchful eyes float, not entirely menacing, just very insistent, very serene, taking it all in.

If I take another dip into my feed, I see the enjoyment of ignorance too has a name, JOMO. (Joy of Missing Out. Clever, no?) coined by blogger Anil Dash. In this blog he celebrates being at peace with being offline and not checking a social network every two minutes. It’s really struck a chord with folk like me who are starting to believe Facebook ignorance can be bliss.

Now, crazy as it sounds, notifications send teeny shivers down my spine if anyone from my various blacklists dares to intrude in my self-imposed bubble with invitations (the gall!) or enquiries into how I’m doing (bastards!) As a result, my forays on the site in a personal capacity are becoming infrequent, sticking mainly to the cheerful partial anonymity of Twitter and the odd message to contact old friends.

While Facebook is an all-encompassing greasy monster that could drag up the most feeble minutiae of my past in a second, Twitter is more like a big conversation that can be dipped in and out of at will, just throwing in your two cents rather than your life story complete with photographic evidence on a convenient timeline.

We’ve maybe shared too much and are stepping back to take stock. As Facebook’s popularity begins to gradually dwindle and sites like Instagram and Pinterest take over, sharing of inspiration and information are coming more to the fore, rather than oblique bitchy remarks and pictures of other peoples’ kids.