Summary: Groundbreaking use of facial recognition technology to deliver ads to women only at a bus stop in London. Plan UK’s campaign was to stir up debate as well as demonstrate to men what it felt like to be excluded. Concept brilliant. Advertising potential, creepy.
Moral ambiguity, thy name is advertising. How are we to parse this advertising campaign in London in which an intelligent bus stop billboard only displays its content to women? You read correctly: the billboard has a camera that scans passersby and if one stops to look, it determines their sex and shows them a 40-second video if they are female. Males only get a link to the advertiser’s website.
Now, does it change things if the advertiser is Plan UK, a non-profit organization trying to raise money toward the education of girls in third-world countries? And they don’t show men because they wanted to give them “a glimpse of what it’s like to have basic choices taken away”? Whether you find this commendable or reprehensible, you have to admit that the technology and implications are more than a little interesting.