Advertisers boycott controversial Dutch sites over sexism claims

Screenshot of DumpertReeten
Screenshot of DumpertReeten. Photo: Screenshot / YouTube

A number of advertisers are pulling their ads from controversial Dutch sites Dumpert and GeenStijl, following accusations of sexism. Both sites belong to the Telegraaf Media Group, NOS reports.

The sexism discussion about the two sites started when columnist Rosanne Hertzberger criticized Dumpert's program DumpertReeten in a piece in NRC. DumpertReeten rates videos using half-naked women, instead of stars. So instead of a good video getting five stars, the video would get five women dressed only in underwear. In her column Hertzberger wondered "which companies make this type of films possible".

A week later Volkskrant columnist Heleen Mees called on advertisers to stop advertising on the TMG sites. She referred to an action in the United States, in which organization Sleeping Giants called on citizens to inform companies if their advertisements appear on extreme right-wing site Breitbart. Mees called on Dutch to do the same when companies' ads appear on Dumpert and GeenStijl. 

GeenStijl retorted by calling Hertzberger a "stupid bitch" (stomme trut) and and changing her name to Rianne Herpesberger. The site also twice posted a photo of a critical Volkskrant journalist asking "Would you do her?" The photos got many sexist responses. A column in the Volkskrant called the reactions "online rape".

Dutch companies and advertisers had divided reactions about this issue. HAK, Grolsch, the World Nature Fund, publisher De Persgroep and KWF all announced that they will no longer advertise on the two sites, according to the Volkskrant and NRC. Other companies, including Ahold, bol.com, Belvilla and the National Committee for 4 and 5 May are not withdrawing their ads. Ikea is still considering.

"These are not locations on which we want to appear", the marketing manager at Grolsch said to the Volkskrant. "We do not advertise on websites with offensive content, so we should not be on Dumpert." The WNF is excluding the sites because "the ad is part of a campaign for children, with which the tone on GeenStijl does not fit."

The Ministry of Defense and theme park Efteling told NOS that they will continue to advertise on the sites. "We need to attract 4 thousand young people every year for the armed forces", Klaas Meijer of Defense said to the broadcaster. "GeenStijl and Dumpert are important sources for this group and therefore we continue to advertise." According to Meijer, the Ministry is not put off by the accusation of sexism by the sites. "We are not about the editorial content and do not comment on it. We do however focus on not advertising on websites that are extremely violent or in violation of the law." 

Efteling bought ads on these sites through other parties and based on target groups. "We don't agree with all content, but the site as a whole is not too far away from Efteling's thinking", a spokesperson said. "We therefore won't stop our ads."

In reaction GeenStijls stated that they don't mind if people find their site sexist. "But don't pretend that we invented it or that it does not exist elsewhere. The chicks in DumpertReeten were simply paid through a casting agency for their excellent services. We did not hear them complaining and afterwards they returned home with no harm done." 

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