Ad Featuring Viral Distracted Boyfriend Meme is Sexist; Rules the Sweden's Advertising Ombudsman
Ad Featuring Viral Distracted Boyfriend Meme (Photo Credits: Bahnhof/ Facebook)

The distracted boyfriend meme, which first surfaced in 2017 before going viral in August last year, continues to pop every now and then. A couple walking down the streets of Spain, with the man openly ogling at another woman continues to allow people to project endless opinions and scenarios onto the three people meme. But a Swedish internet service provider, Bahnhof went a bit too far according to the country’s Advertising Ombudsman, the body which regulates the ad industry and it named the company’s recruitment ad featuring distracted boyfriend as ‘sexist’. Distracted Boyfriend Meme Remade With a Delicious Ice-cream! Twitterati Calls it A Real-Life Version of the Infamous Meme. 

In a Facebook post, Bahnhof used the image alongside a job advertisement. And their version of the meme explains the boyfriend is turning away from “your current workplace” to stare at Bahnhof. According to The Local, Sweden’s advertising watchdog has ruled, “It portrays women as interchangeable objects, and that only their appearance is interesting. It also shows degrading stereotypical gender roles of both men and women and gives the impression men can change female partners as they change jobs.” The judgement further pointed out that “Bahnhof may put off female applicants with the advertisement.” The ad which was published on April 4 drew over thousands of comments from many women and men who complained that it was sexist. Charlie Chaplin Invented The Distracted Boyfriend Meme, Pic Goes Viral Along With New Memes. 

Bahnhof's recruitment advert using the distracted boyfriend image! 

On the other hand, Bahnhof on its behalf argued that its sole intention with the popular meme was to show that the company is an attractive employer and those who have a slightly less good employer could be interested in them. A statement signed by Bahnhof’s head of communications Anya Alenberg and CEO Jon Karlung reads, “Everyone who follows the internet and meme culture knows how the meme is used and interpreted. [Whether someone is a] man, woman or neutral gender is often irrelevant in this context. We are an internet company and are conversant in this, as are those who would look for a job with us, so we turned to that target group. If we should be punished for anything, it's for using an old and tired meme.” Best Memes of 2017 That Went Crazy Viral on WhatsApp and Twitter. 

The Distracted Boyfriend meme is based on a 2015 stock photograph by the Spanish photographer Antonio Guillem. It gained the popularity when social media started using the image as a meme. It was even named as the meme of the year in April 2017. Ever since, it has been used as a way to depict different forms of infidelity from music to politics to hit TV shows; it even lands into troubles as the recent one in Sweden. As per reports, the date after posting the original advert, Bahnhof also shared several variations of the meme by removing the genders with animals and animated characters.