Marketing Fail: Tech Startup With Great Product Uses Harassment to Promote It

There’s a cool new device that could make interacting with people in foreign countries a lot less of a headache.

The ili is a slim, stick-shaped wearable translator that will instantly translate between English and Japanese, Japanese and Chinese, and Chinese and English (with more languages in the works).

The gadget is the brainchild of a Japanese startup Logbar – and it’s admittedly a pretty cool product for travel-loving young professionals, or those who find themselves in Japan and China for business. It’s small, convenient, and would make everything from asking strangers for directions and ordering meals, to business meetings in foreign countries a lot less of a headache.

The problem is that its ridiculously immature and creepy marketing campaign offsets what sounds like a great product. The company has decided to take the “mature” route, and market the product entirely as a pick-up tool to converse with girls in foreign countries. For such a forward-thinking product, the marketing is entirely backwards.

As in, it essentially promotes the harassment of women.

In a two-minute long promotional video, an English-speaking man hits the streets of Tokyo with the device in hand and a MO to get a kiss from as many women as he can. He boldly and persistently approaches strangers, asking them in English for a kiss. When the women who actually offer seconds of their precious time to explain that they can’t speak English, he whips out the gadget to translate his creepy request.

That’s if he makes it that far. Some of the women, clearly offended by the blatant street harassment, run away from the moment he approaches them (and I would too).

At a time when a powerful dialogue for gender equality and female empowerment dominates both headlines and our newsfeeds on the regular, this marketing campaign couldn’t be more of a fail.

Check it out for yourself:

In case you’re still interested, no launch date or fixed price have been announced, but it’s expected to retail for around $200 US. If you’re going to buy one though, definitely don’t be a creep about it.