Feb 18, 2012

Alchemy Promoters in Sexism Row

 

Rónán Burtenshaw

Deputy Editor

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Midnight productions company has become embroiled in a row over the “sexist and dangerous advertising” of one of its nights at the club Alchemy. The night in question, run with the byline ‘If You’re Not Up for It, Don’t Cum’, takes place on Monday nights in the Temple Bar venue.

An advertisement for the night (pictured below) was posted online on Friday. It features the event’s byline with a picture of a girl in a skirt. The girl is bending over to reach for her underwear, which are around her ankles, and the image also shows a can of beer on the floor. Midnight’s name and website address is featured in the left foreground with the Alchemy brand logo appearing at the top.

Advertisement for Midnight's 'Mondays at Alchemy' reading 'if you're not up for it don't cum'

On Friday evening a poster on the ‘Mondays at Alchemy’ page, named Anna Candy, criticised the picture and campaign as “a perfect example of sexist advertisement against women”. In response the Facebook page suggested to her that “maybe [she]’d be more suited to a nightclub like the kitchen”.

Comment on the 'Mondays at Alchemy' Facebook page

On Saturday, after a number of comments were posted on the ‘Mondays at Alchemy’ page and deleted, a Facebook group was set up to “end [the night’s] sexist and dangerous advertising”. Posts on the page initially featured the images and a blog-post, titled ‘The Sex Sells Myth’, which accused the group of “blatant objectification and abasement of women”. At the time of writing the group had over 200 members.

At about 4PM a series of Facebook profiles identifiable as associated with the Midnight productions company joined the group and began to interact with others involved. These included Dan O’Brien (Brand Manager), David Strong (Manager), Ciara Sherlock (Brand Manager), Alex McGonagle (Social Media), Anna Byrne (Promoter) and Darren Scanlon and Rob Walsh whose Facebook occupations referenced positions inside the organisation. In addition a number of other posters gave indications of involvement with Midnight.

Dan O’Brien began by criticising the group, saying that the idea that “sex sells” was “abundant”. He also referenced a night by north Dublin venue ‘The Big Tree’ which is called “Ride Her Like You’re Late For Mass”. Orla Byrne, who is also employed with the company, followed this with a comment which characterised the campaign as “simply an advertising technique”, saying that Alchemy was “known for getting the shift” and that this was its selling point.

Midnight employee Rob Walsh, in a comment thread which was later deleted, continued this by saying that the night was “run by 2nd years”, was about “having fun” and “being a bit bold”, and that people could choose not to go to it just as he chose not to go to nights associated with “heavy drug use” and “homosexuality”.

That thread continued with a comment pictured below by Mr. Walsh, which said that concerns about the advertising campaign were unfounded because “girls only really receive [sexual harassment] problems when they are dressed to attract it”.

Comment by Midnight employee Rob Walsh

Ciara Sherlock continued the defence of Midnight by its staff, advising those posting not to come if they “don’t like it” and to “shut up moaning about it”. Mr. O’Brien then added the following comment to the page: “Since this group went up there have been 100 extra sign ups to our Cheaplist App for Monday night. Thanks. You’ll be taking our jobs soon enough.”

Midnight Brand Manager Dan O'Brien's comment

Further comments supporting Midnight came from employees Conor Cruise, Alan McGonagle and Hollie Smyth-Curran. The former suggested that women “want too much” and that “the problem is the people in this group”. McGonagle blamed “uppity students” for the campaign against Alchemy while Smyth-Curran said the page was “pathetic”.

Response

TCDSU Ents Officer Chris O’Connor had been on Joe Duffy’s radio programme in late 2011 condemning an event held by Midnight in Tramco. The event, which was referenced on the page by Midnight employees, encouraged women to trade in their underwear for shots at the bar. Mr. O’Connor called this “sleazy promotions” at the time, a comment backed up by last year’s unsuccessful Ents candidate Elaine McDaid on the Facebook group today.

TCDSU sabbatical officers Rachel Barry (Education) and Louisa Miller (Welfare), who both also posted on the page, issued comments to The UT. Ms. Barry said that it was “important that the SU take action” on the connection between Trinity and the organisation. Pursuant to this, she added, the issue would be discussed at Student Council on Tuesday and anyone “involved or affected should show up”. Ms. Miller took issue with the “misogynist tone” of the advertisement – calling it “absolutely disgraceful”. Sexual assault was a “serious issue”, she said, with many cases going unreported.

Jamie White, co-Director of Midnight with Mark Jacobs, spoke briefly with The University Times this evening. He said that the issue had been referred to the group’s solicitors. He was unhappy, he said, at some of the comments posted on the page – calling them “inciteful [sic]”. This particularly the case for those that were “directed at individuals”.

The University Times asked a series of follow-up questions to the company by e-mail, the responses to which we have yet to receive. Following the controversy today the Facebook group for ‘Mondays at Alchemy’ has been taken down. A series of posters on the Facebook group indicated their intentions to complain about the campaign to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland.

A number of Midnight employees wrote to The UT denying us their permission to quote them, post pictures of their comments or refer to them by name in the article. Following legal advice the above piece has not been affected by those communications.

Additional reporting by Ronan Costello

Trinity Halls JCR does not, as previously stated, run events with Midnight.

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