What did I just watch?

Empowering women seems to have become one of the trendiest expressions used by companies nowadays. While in some cases, the mission is justified and I’m grateful that the world is slowly becoming a better place for people of all genders and races, in others, it’s a waste of people’s interest, time, and energy. Empowering women by promoting equality and inspiring role-models, yes. Empowering women by putting models in lingerie on bikes, no.

Some marketing ideas can be absolutely brilliant and leave a positive and durable impression. Others are pure garbage. This is one of them. According to lingerie company Honey Birdette, the way to empower women and tell them that it’s ok to be single on Valentine’s Day is to put half a dozen gorgeous models in bras, panties, stockings, and high heels on the back of motorcycles ridden by female sales associates for the #notyourvalentine campaign.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not against a bit of cheekiness (figurative or literal) when it comes to getting a positive message across. The problem here is that there’s a number of things wrong with the way the message is being conveyed. To begin with, the whole stunt looks more like the classic attempt at trying to capture men’s attention, the same way some motorcycle companies are still trying to attract the masses at shows with pretty pillion babes.

The rider in me also feels the need to point out that lace and mesh do not protect from road rash. Something, something ATGATT. Hey! At least they gave them helmets.

Now, do I have to hand my “Professional Woman” card over because I think this marketing stint sucks and I didn’t understand the message of positivity it supposedly conveys? Did anybody seriously catch that? Does a flock of pretty ladies in lingerie scream “I am empowering you!” to anyone?

I also feel a little bad for the single people out there who truly feel the weight of their loneliness on days like February 14—there’s nothing like a group of beautiful models flaunting what their mammas gave ‘em to sprinkle a bit of self-consciousness into the mix.

I probably wouldn’t be making fun of this had Honey Birdette stuck to a “we pretty much just wanted to showcase our collection for V-Day” narrative instead, without all the empowerment bs. Had I not read word for word that the company’s intention with its flash mob on wheels was to “empower women” (that expression again!), I wouldn’t be here ranting about it. I would most likely have forgotten about the whole affair before the day was over. Because the spokesperson had to give an obnoxious justification for what is pretty much only an eye-catching marketing campaign, I obviously felt the need to comment.

That’s the one thing the company did right: it got people (like me) talking. There’s a saying in French that goes “love it or hate it, as long as you’re talking about it”. That part worked perfectly.