Monday, 28 July 2014

In which I stick my head above the parapet

Over the weekend I read a blog post by Abby Glassenberg that talked about an issue that had lodged in my head, but which I'd been too confrontation-averse to previously mention anywhere publicly, other than to discuss it with my husband. I had kept wondering though: are other people as shocked by this as I am…but no one had said anything, so I'd assumed it was just me being fussy and kept my feelings to myself.

To give you some background to the brand in question, unless you follow some high-profile designers, you may not be aware of how the popularity of Aurifil has arisen, but Aurifil has quickly gathered a cult status, after being used by dozens of high profile quilters and designers (their piecing work and quilts hashtagged with Aurifil), which quickly trickled down to it becoming widely stocked by independent quilt shops worldwide. To me, this rise of Aurifil is largely attributable to one man - Aurifil's frontman, Alex Veronelli. For those not familiar with his online presence, Alex is charismatic, likable, charming and mildly flirtatious in an inoffensive way. In the predominantly female quilting community, his presence has seemed to seal the deal of making Aurifil's Italian thread a highly covetable item. I don't have a problem with this at all - we are all susceptible to presentation - I'd be the first to admit that when I buy something, I'm often buying into the whole lifestyle of what that product has been packaged to convey (my husband and I laughed over this when we realised we'd bought some dog treats for £5, largely because they had been placed in a small, recycled cardboard box, stickered with an attractive label and postured as organic and wholesome. Lucky Nell! I'm not sure whether she actually appreciated the difference though).

Before I detail what I've found troubling about Aurifil's recent marketing campaign, I feel I should preface this by saying that I've met Alex once in person, albeit very briefly, and he seemed to actually be very reserved and this is borne out by what others have said about him too - all who've come into contact with him seem to say that he's respectful, professional and also been hugely supportive of their work.

However, a few weeks ago, during the time that Quilt Market was being held in America (a trade only event where designers and manufacturers unveil their new lines to the industry media and shop owners), photos began popping up on the feed of Aurifil's PR woman, showing an ever-growing series of different high-profile women from within the quilting industry sitting on Alex Veronelli's lap, hashtagged with #aurigirl, collected over the course of a few days. After several photos in this vein, I unfollowed the woman who was posting them, as the whole thing felt a bit, for want of a better word, vomit-inducing. I couldn't quite understand what this particular marketing campaign was trying to say to me as a potential Aurifil user…other than that if I used Aurifil threads I could become defined by them and hashtag myself as an #aurigirl and aspire to sit on the knee of Alex Veronelli too… I like the threads and he seems like a very nice man, but as a grown-up woman living in 2014, neither of those things speak to me on a level that feels in line with how I wanted to be marketed to.

In the interests of giving a rounded view - there was one #auriboy and one fantastic photo of Angela Walters, where she'd clearly refused the request and said that he could sit on her knee instead if he wanted. Alex is sitting grinning, while Angela's arms are placed firmly behind her chair, rather than wrapped around him.  Apparently all of these women were happy to take part and most look really quite happy and in the comments to Abby's post, some have said that they still feel completely happy with it. However, for me it's not really about that at all - it's more about what Aurifil are trying to say as a company and what their message is. I don't think there's anything wrong with a woman sitting on Alex Veronelli's knee at all if she's happy to do so…it's more how it looks when seen on mass with the hashtag #aurigirl applied to it - it begins to feel slightly misogynistic and like a collection of 'calendar girl' shots.


Aurifil's other curious marketing campaign is a take on the Ryan Gosling caption pictures that went viral last year. If you don't remember these, people honed in on how generally lovely the actor Ryan Gosling seems to be and began posting pictures of him looking generally cuddly and helpful with lines like: Hey Girl, you carry on sewing, while I make the dinner tonight. Aurifil's take on this has been to post pictures of Alex Veronelli lying (apparently) naked beneath a quilt; lying over a sea of thread cones; or erm, a photo taken from beneath Alex, showing him standing astride something with the camera clearly focusing on his crotch, and asking fans to write captions for the photos. It feels like the sweetness of the Ryan Gosling idea has somehow been lost in Aurifil's translation of it and morphed into something that just feels really quite weird.



I do wonder how much of this is Alex being a good sport and playing along with the ideas that the Aurifil PR department are coming up with for him. Or, when surrounded by a sea of adoring women, whether he's lost sight of what he actually wants to be doing and is just trying to people-please and live up to the Italian stallion reputation that's previously worked so well for his company. Or maybe he's actually happy with this line of marketing…who knows.

Alex's Twitter presence has always been on the risqué side of things - when I first began following him on Twitter about three years ago I was bemused by the jokes that would randomly appear in his stream, until another quilter told me that she thought he consulted a joke book for these. Either way, they were fairly inoffensive and some of the ones that I saw actually made me laugh. However, I tend to use Instagram more than Twitter nowadays, and it seems the jokes now have a slightly more unpleasant feel to them. In her post, Abby sites several examples, but to give you a quick flavour, a recent joke that he posted was "Do you want to know the 'Victoria's Secret'? Their lingerie doesn't look the same on your girlfriend as it does on their models". For those who aren't aware of it, Victoria's Secret is an American lingerie chain. For anyone who remembers the overnight downfall of Gerald Ratner and his chain of jewellery shops in the 1990s, the first rule of business is not to insult your customers. With a list of predominantly female followers, is this really good PR to be posting jokes like this that are at the expense of everyday women?

I generally take the approach of, if I don't like something I ignore it or stop looking at it. However, when a company's whole marketing campaign seems to be based on things that have misogynistic overtones it feels bigger than that and it makes me feel that if no one joins Abby in saying 'hang on a moment - I'd really love you to market your threads to me in a different way' then nothing will change. I think their current marketing campaign currently makes a fool out of its customers.

When I was growing up, I'd always thought that things like this really didn't matter too much. I lived with lots of men at university and never once felt offended by their banter or conversation. In my life as an adult, I'd pretty much thought feminism in England was unnecessary, as the battle for equality here had already been fought and won a long time ago - the people I surround myself with like women and don't see them as anything other than equal. However, a few months ago, I watched a documentary called Blurred Lines, presented by Kirsty Wark. It was one of the most eye-opening things I've ever watched and it completely changed my perception of why saying the smaller things like this aren't okay is really important, even in England where we don't suffer the kinds of horrendous oppression that some other cultures do.

So, back to Aurifil, this isn't an attempt to vilify Alex or Aurifil. It's simply a public request for them to do things differently and make other people aware of what's going on, so that if you feel the same, you can ask for that too. In our age of social media, any mistakes that a company or person makes are painfully clear for all to see - which is quite difficult when we're all human and so do make mistakes. I really believe that it shouldn't be the (in my opinion) error of judgement that's the issue, it's how a company or person reacts to people questioning it that matters. I think that Alex is a brilliant and charismatic front-man for Aurifil, I just wish that they'd market their products to me as though I'm an intelligent consumer, rather than someone who will be swayed by photos of prominent women sitting on his knee with Alex in Father Christmas mode or invitations to catchphrase a man's crotch.

This isn't a request for people to boycott Aurifil. Their success has been backed up and largely facilitated by being stocked in independent quilting shops, most of which are run by independent businesswomen. If it's the thread that you'd buy anyway, by stopping buying it, quilt shop owners will be left with thread stock that they find difficult to sell. I'm imagining that they don't stock Aurifil on a sale or return basis, so that would seem a fairly awful consequence and isn't something I'd want to be implicated in.

To me, the best approach seems to be to politely ask Aurifil to change their marketing tack - whether that's through writing a blog post or messaging Alex on Twitter or writing to them directly. If enough people let them know that they'd prefer to be marketed to in a more respectful way, then hopefully they'll take that on board.

I'd love to know what you think,
Florence x

UPDATED: Alex responded to me via Twitter this morning with the following comment: Loved your post and its clear storytelling, you're rightly pointing out suggestions that I will make treasure of. This evening, Abby Glassenberg wrote to let me know that Aurifil have now removed the offending photos. What a fantastic result - I'm so pleased.

Thanks so much to Abby for starting the conversation about something which many of us, including me, didn't have the confidence to begin despite feeling quietly offended. And thank you for taking the time to comment on both my and Abby's blogs - I really think your comments made a difference and brought about a speedier result than the lone voices of two women could have done. I'm also personally grateful as I'm not really an 'over the parapet type of person', so your support meant a lot - I'd been slightly afraid that this post could be met by deafening silence or worse, vitriol against me - it was a relief to find that these feelings resonated with you too and that you felt it was something worth discussing. Thank you. x

129 comments:

  1. Apart from anything else, it's just plain naff, and not the sort of image you'd want to associate with a supposedly quality product. If I hadn't heard of Aurifil, and this campaign was my first introduction to it, my immediate impression would be one of cheapness not quality.

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  2. I'm really glad that this discussion has finally started. I admit that I was too cowardly to say anything so thank you and abby!

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  3. Advertisements are blocked on my computer and I don't subscribe to any quilting magazines (yet) nor have a television, so I have to admit that I was completely unaware of what was going on. Your blog entry has opened my eyes to this problem...yes, I completely agree with you. Advertising like this is sexist. Children typically sit on the knees of their parents and the aurigirl pics suggest just that, that women are equatable to children and that both are on a hierarchical level beneath men. I also don't want to say that this was aurifil's intentional message; sexism and the dualistic thinking of men/women (strong/weak, culture/nature and all the other dualisms associated with the first) is a culturally engrained thing that many women (and men!) all over the world are (more or less successfully) speaking out against and trying to change. Aurifil's campaigns are, whether intentional or not, definitely a step in the wrong direction!
    ~Kei

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    1. It's even worse than I thought...the aurigirls are sitting on his lap rather than his knee, which just has additional sexual connotations when grown adults are involved...does Alex really think this is OK?!
      ~Kei

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  4. I thought these pics and jokes were funny to begin with too but its as though they have taken on a life of their own. I agree completely with you! I don't want to see grandmas using aurifil but I also don't want the connotations of their current campaign...there must be a better way to bring attention to this amazing thread.

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    1. Your comment makes me extremely cross. Why shouldn't we see "grandmas" using Aurifil? They have as much right to buy and use these products as anyone else, and by implication, you are excluding them from participating. Just because crafting is now fashionable does not mean that we should exclude people who were doing it long before the media got hold of it.
      Companies like Aurifil know full well who buys their products - old and young alike - and should take this in to account in their marketing. The fact that they think that they can get away with this kind of repulsive nonsense just shows how much sexualisation of every day life and objects is accepted and taken for granted in society.

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    2. That's a good point, Stash Avalanche - I have to admit that I'd be all for grandma endorsements - with many more years of trial and error, why wouldn't we want an element of this. But I agree, Karen, there are so many better ways to market a good quality thread.

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  5. From across the pond and a fairly new quilter - Thank you for speaking up. I've never used Aurifil, but I had just recently read reviews that made me want to try it....now, I'm reconsidering. I seriously feel only repulsion for the idea of having the thread in my house after seeing photos of quilters I'd long admired in such a sickeningly compromising position. (What are we thinking??)
    "vomit-inducing" = best analogy I've heard in a good while.
    Again, thank you!

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    1. I think it would be a shame to judge some of our favourite quilters and designers for this. Whatever their individual reasons for agreeing to a photo being taken - friendliness/wanting to be a good sport/not wishing to offend/just having fun - it's how Aurifil have used those pictures that are the problem. Thank you so much for commenting!

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    2. I'm not blaming the quilters as I'm sure they were in a corner to participate in the photos and felt obligated to do so. The whole thing is just such a shame.

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  6. I think you have said it quite well actually! It saddens me when companies buy into the "sex sells" advertising policy that seems all too prevelant these days. It often ends up conveying a subtle idea of the women being submissive- getting it rather than giving it, if you will. I've never followed along with any of that, but I can see how people can get caught up in it, or even like it. And it bothers me when it's all chalked up to harmless fun. I'm pretty sure Aurifil had an amazing product that they could market it much better ways.
    Thanks for speaking up, I agree with you wholeheartedly!

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    1. I agree - chalking it up as harmless fun feels like perpetuating a bigger problem. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  7. Thank you thank you for your thoughtful and well reasoned post on this topic. I too was disturbed by the #aurigirl campaign. I am a big fan of Aurifil threads, and prior to this often tagged Aurifil in my Instagram feed or mentioned my use of Aurifil in my blog posts. My discomfort over the #aurigirl thing has seen me stop doing that - I'm no longer comfortable implicitly promoting a company that has taken such a sexist approach to marketing it's products (especially baffling when it's primary consumers are women). I completely agree with you that it's important to speak out against these kind of things even if they might seem like "a bit of fun" to some people. I can imagine how difficult it would be to be in the shoes of someone at quilt market and say no to that request. Since the general consensus seems to be that Alex Veronelli himself is very respectful, professional and helpful, I think Aurifil the brand is rightly the target of complaints. Perhaps an Instagram campaign hijacking the #aurigirl tag is in order - #aintnoaurigirl perhaps?

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    1. I completely agree - I tend to not want to offend people and so I think I would have found it even harder to say no, when it was actually a woman that the photo was initially being requested by. I'm so pleased I haven't been alone if finding the photos disturbing though and I love your new hashtag suggestion!

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  8. I never saw the ads, but then I've never bought Aurifil either.
    I agree with you completely. However, in this day and age, there is no clear border between refinement and coarseness. You are so right that we must make it clear to Aurifil that this ad campaign is unacceptable. If no one says anything, then how would they know that so many women feel it's offensive when almost anything goes today. I am tempted to email them and tell them that I would like to try their thread (which is wonderful as far as I know, just more $$$ than I usually spend on thread), but their ad campaign has made me extremely uncomfortable.

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    1. Do email them - I think if enough people let them know their feelings they'll almost certainly respond positively, rather than alienating their client base further.

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  9. Goodness, I was not aware of this at all! What a lovely job you have done, Florence, of examining every angle of this and urging people to not punish the retailers.
    I worked for years in decent quality advertising/marketing businesses, and I would guess this is the work of inexperienced marketers getting out of their depth (whether it's Aurifil's internal people or an external agency). It should be obvious to most marketing professionals that the aurigirls campaign is demeaning, horribly outdated and frankly creepy. And as for the 'hey girl' thing - just yicky and awkward! Ew. It's hard to know whether to feel disgusted by this man or sorry for him because perhaps he's just been very ill-advised.
    Thanks for this post. These issues should be confronted.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Jane - yes, that's how it came across to me - hopefully just inexperience leading to Alex being ill-advised - I think it must be really difficult to tread the right line with things if you have quite a public persona and perhaps feel that people have expectations of you to be a certain way. That's what I hope was the case, anyway.

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  10. What a great post - I agree with you 100%. Aurifil's advertising really is cheap and nasty.. it's really turned me off their product. On a more positive note, I just love the manner in which you've written of your disdain for their marketing and called them on their sexism - if only there was more thoughtful and polite discussions of things we're offended by and would like changed in the world, I'm sure it would be a much more peaceful place!

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    1. That's really kind of you to say that, Trish - thank you.

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  11. Very well written, I agree with how you put it all. I love the thread, won't ever give it up but I've been very uncomfortable with the marketing which I believe has been very counter productive. It's not true that there is no such thing as bad publicity - as you pointed out Ratners proved that. The products are so good, they don't need to be cheapened this way.

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  12. You hit the nail on the head....a real turn off. Tactless.

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  13. I was pretty nauseated by the photos and would not buy Aurifil now because this will only lend my passive support to this type of campaign.
    However, on a broader level, think there is still a lot of sexism and gender inequality in the UK but it has become such an ingrained part of society that most people don't even recognise it for what it is.

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    1. I agree - did you see the Kirsty Wark programme? It was a real eye opener and, coincidentally, it mainly focused on how the online world has created whole new unchartered avenues for sexism and female oppression that operate outside the offline social norms that sexism isn't acceptable. I found it utterly shocking and it made me feel, with a daughter who is 12 and just starting to use the internet more, that we do need to speak up more to try and make the internet a better, more women-friendly place. I've never experienced any sexism toward me personally online, so was horrified to see what teenager girls are coping with. I'm not suggesting that this is the same as the issues covered in the documentary, more that it's made me feel the need to be more active in speaking up against sexism.

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  14. I think you said this really well, and I agree with you completely. I'd love for them to politely engage in this discussion and set about changing their marketing campaigns and online presence. I, like you, have been bothered by this for a few months and reluctant to publicly address it. I really admire that you wrote this post and that you did it in such a balanced, yet incisive way. Thank you, and Abby who took the first step!

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    1. Thank you!

      Alex did actually respond to me via Twitter earlier with this message: "Loved your post & its clear storytelling, you're rightly pointing out suggestions that I will make treasure of."

      I'm really hoping they do take some of what Abby and others are saying on board.

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    2. That is hopeful! Fingers crossed so, let's keep up the polite pressure.

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    3. Your post is wonderful. Thank you for writing it. Alex and Kim have now taken down all of the Instagram photos of designers sitting on Alex's lap in both of their feeds. All of the most recent offensive tweets have also been removed from Alex's Twitter feed. I think at least in part the message has gotten through.

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    4. Abby - I'm so delighted. Well done you on speaking up and starting a conversation about something that many of us were too intimidated to raise. I certainly wouldn't have raised it here without prompting by you - I'm really grateful for your courageousness. What a fantastic result. x

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  15. A that's really well said Florence. I have to admit that I felt really uncomfortable seeing the photos from Quilt Market with women sitting on Alex's lap - it was a sense of really? This is a good idea? In 2014? But then it was a case of nobody starting the conversation & it seeming like it was a non-issue. I'm really pleased that you've started this conversation & in such a mature & reasonable way. I had been unaware of the latest marketing from Aurifil but have to say that that really is a step too far, particularly for a company selling primarily to women. I do really like their products but it is important that a company is informed about the expectations & views of the customers & Aurifil really has it wrong with these campaigns.

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  16. Florence you might be interested in a TED Talk I found over the weekend called Why I Stopped Watching Porn (http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Why-I-Stopped-Watching-Porn-Ran). Obviously a side topic to your post but he makes some very pertinent comments regarding sex in society and sexualisation.

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    1. I love TED talks - it's such an amazing resource, isn't, but I haven't come across this one. I'll note it down and hopefully watch it this evening - thank you so much for leaving a link.

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  17. Yay, welcome to above the parapet, Florence! Hope you'll stick around! I wasn't aware of this fiasco at all, but yikes. From the Twitter exchanges that Abby recounted in her post it looks hard to excuse it all as a simple error of judgment - Veronelli seems determined to stand by the sexist jokes at least.

    I'm always surprised to hear people say that feminism's not needed any more! That Kirsty Wark programme was good, wasn't it? You might like Christiane Northrup's book, 'Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom' - it's a health book but the intro and first two chapters are all about how society's gender politics affect our understanding of ourselves and our wellbeing; it's a very deep and subtle take on the idea that the personal is political. x

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    1. The parapet feels like such a scary place to go…so I rarely venture there. But thank you.

      Until I saw the Kirsty Wark programme, I really did think that and have to admit to being embarrassingly sheltered. I spoke to my mother about it for a really long time after watching the programme and she agreed that amongst our close circle of family friends and not being someone who follows tabloid or magazine press, the world can just seem like a rather nice place and she'd felt much the same!

      I remember as a student at university, the day after Tony Blair was elected was a brilliantly sunny day and we walked down the road seeing the whole world afresh with a feeling of optimism and hope; after I'd watched Blurred Lines, I woke up the next day with a similar feeling of seeing the world completely differently, only it wasn't accompanied by optimism, more horror - it really was an eye-opener for me.

      Thank you so much for the book recommendation - that sounds really interesting and I'm going to go and see if it has a 'look inside' bit on Amazon with a view to buying it. x

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  18. I wasn't aware of this, but now I will look Aurifil differently. It certainly won't be on my list to buy. I find this whole marketing campaign icky and patronising and that's let's not even begin to talk about the sexism side of things. Perhaps I am a bit more sensitive these days with raising three small girls under 7yrs, whereas I would have not paid much attention to such advertising before. But how on earth do we address the sexualisation of females from a young age if ignore it at other levels. Women are so much better than this.

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    1. I completely agree - coming at it from a mother's perspective makes me view things like this in a completely different way than I might otherwise have done. There's constantly the voice inside, questioning whether I want things to be this way for our daughters as they grow up.

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  19. Thank you for writing this! I've felt the same way but wondered if I was just being a proud. The whole affair just seemed very uncomfortable. I love aurifil thread but I feel this really cheapens it. Is there any way so easy or unimaginative as sex or sell something. The most original thing to come out of this is Angela walter's pose - love that! I hope they reconsider their marketing strategy, I'm sick of seeing it.

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    1. Prude, not proud. Very well written, mature and inoffensive, thank you!

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    2. I agree - I thought that was really wonderful!

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  20. Thanks for this post. I love my Aurifil thread. It's the best. I've seen a few of the post similar to thr Aryan's Gosslin and agree that they made me uncomfortable too. I was not aware of the photos of quilters sitting on Alex's lap and agree that is in poor taste. I hope you get a response from Aurufil and Alex addressing this issue and look forward to reading it. Thank you, Mary

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  21. Thanks for writing this post. I really believe this kind of marketing trend makes fools out of the companies involved, rather than making fools out of their customers. Especially in the crafting world that is full of savvy, smart women and men. As well as the misogyny, it so 'cringe' on a very basic level.

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  22. I read Abby's orig. post and someone in her comments mentioned yours, so I hopped over.
    I love your post! So well said!!!

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  23. Thanks for writing this post. It seems like there were many of us feeling uncomfortable but not speaking up. I appreciate you doing so.

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  24. Yes. I have found this weird and off-putting for a while now. Thank you for writing about it.

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  25. I'm impressed, somewhat, that Alex responded to you.
    I'm not impressed by the defence of the campaign or his 'fresh' tweets. Sexism has not, and will not go away so long as their are women willing to let it happen, even encourage it. And there are women who go against feminism? Sheesh.

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  26. I love your post. It is well reasoned and well written. At first, thought the Aurifil campaign was a clever way to personify the brand, but I am feeling inundated by the amount of pictures of the owner. It has gone from cute idea to egotism in a flash. Also on a practical note, I do love the thread but to be honest the designer thread sets bother me. I have a standard set of 3 neutral colors, grey, dark green/grey and cream that I use on all my quilts and having many different sets with many colors that are esoteric is simply a waste of money.I work at a quilt store and have access to hundreds of different colors, but I basically use these 3 colors unless topstitching for garment sewing, and I know my customers do the same because of their buying habits when buying thread.

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    1. Ditto - I do have a wide range of colours left over from when I did a lot of machine appliqué where the top stitching colour shows, but nowadays I tend to find myself using only white, cream or grey. I don't know whether you've seen any of the recent photos on Instagram of matchstick quilting by @shecanquilt, but she uses thread colours in her quilting in a way that I find really inspiring and so I can see myself wanting to experiment a bit more with coloured threads at some point, but yes, it's mostly just three colours for me! Thank you so much for your comment.

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  27. Thank you so much for this post! Those photos really bothered me, too, but since I don't blog I just kept quiet. You did a great job addressing the subject without admonishing everyone involved.

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    1. I'm pleased that's come across, as I was anxious that I really didn't my post to seem like a reprimand - just a request for change. Thank you for your comment!

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  28. Thanks so much for this post. Of course, it's thoughtful and well-written, as I've come to expect from all of your posts. I'm a terrible wuss, and I'm blown away by what seems very brave to me. I, too, was thrilled to read Abby's post, as I've been bothered by the lap-sitting photos. I hadn't even seem the Gosling-esque pics. It's a shame that they've chosen this kind of marketing, as their product really is quite nice. I'll definitely be looking for the film you mentioned, it sounds like an important one.

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    1. It's an amazing documentary - I was so unaware of many of the issues it discusses, a lot of which are new issues because they're arising only with the advent of social media and other online channels. Do watch it if you get the chance.

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  29. Thanks for writing about this! It's been bothering me for a while. Seems that some of the women asked to sit on his lap might have felt coerced given their relationship to Auriful and that makes me really uncomfortable. You and Abby are discussing this with great balance and consideration. Thanks again. We gotta speak up.

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  30. Good point, well made! The campaign did leave a foul taste in my mouth when I became aware of it.

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  31. It does have a faintly grubby and distasteful feel about it - the quality of the thread should speak for itself.
    I wasnt aware of the campaign until you pointed it out and it certainly wouldnt sway me towards buying it if I didnt already do so.

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  32. I already commented on Abby's site. It confuses me why so many women seem ok with it all and seem to be condoning and facilitating the whole thing. There are many posts defending the man over on Abby's site.

    I have never for one minute thought women had full equality. We have laws yes but often they are blatantly ignored or not re-enforced. I have always stood for feminism but that means choices for women as we are not all the same. The average man is far from finding women their equal sadly. I'm not sure that a lot of women do either actually which is a even more of an indictment on the society we live in. This example just serves to show the contempt women are really held in. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out what the company really feel about those that use their products.

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  33. Thank you for being brave enough to stand up and say something. Excellent post, and it worked!!

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  34. Thanks for putting your head above the parapet Florence. In Italy the adverts are quite different from here, much more sexist, so I agree, maybe he was badly advised. I notice he has a young teenage daughter, so. maybe his style will change when she gets older and tells him to wear pyjamas under his quilt! This style of advertising is so low level and Aurofil is a great product. There must be so many ways which are much better to show it at its best. Your comment is so well balanced too.

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  35. Thank you for posting this! Love their thread but not this message!

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  36. I saw the ads, I didn't like them and I was always surprised by the women who took part. As for the crotch shots- blurred lines on these, the Ryan Gosling meme has been taken on by so many and these feel somewhere on that spectrum, maybe the more extreme end. I've met Alex and he is polite, quiet and reserved in public and has a good knowledge of the industry and its community. He is hugely involved in the business and it is very much a family company. His tweets have often caused me to raise an eyebrow and think 'really?' and I have drifted between following and unfollowing him. I thought Abby was very careful and considered in her tone both in the post and in the responses- not an easy thing to do, and I think you have achieved the same thing in your post. I have mixed feelings about it- I don't like the tone of their advertising, I thought it was ill-advised, but then I also don't like the tone of some sewing books that treat women as if they are little girls interested in only flicking through retro style pretty pictures rather than detailed information on how to actually make something. I am glad Alex and Kim have resounded and taken some reflective action- reflection is always worthwhile.

    I saw the Kirsty Walk programme and was deeply saddened by it- the video of the male rugby students singing that song on the bus still haunts me. I felt things had gone backwards since I was at Uni.

    Thankyou Florence xxx

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    1. I completely agree with everything you've said. Ditto the tone of some craft books. Re: the Kirsty Wark documentary, one of the things I found most shocking was the scenes from Grand Theft Auto - I had no idea that it would even be legal for a video game to be sold in the UK that had that kind of content. I was just flabbergasted.

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  37. You are to be congratulated on superbly written and well reasoned post. I'm not a quilter, so was not aware of this campaign, but as a woman I'm certainly aware of pervasive societal sexism. It can be really hard to stick your head up above the parapet, but you have done it in such a gentle and effective way. Seriously, Bravo!

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  38. So nicely written, as always.

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  39. A fantastic post Forence. I'm not a quilter so hadn't come across this bizarre campaign. Some folk do see this sort of thing as 'harmless fun' but it's another case of 'broken window' syndrome. Please do read Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman if you haven't already. She explains it so much better than I ever could. Thanks again for such a great post.

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    1. It's on my shelf and I loved it, but thank you for the tip. Have you seen she's written a sequel of sorts to it, but aimed at a slightly younger audience?

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  40. Thank you for this post. As someone who came of age in the sixties and seventies, it is discouraging that we are still fighting for the respect and equality we deserve. I have a shop and made conscious choice not to carry these threads.

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  41. Thank you for adding to the wonderful post that Abby wrote. This guy starting creeping me out about a year ago when he started following me on facebook. I put up with just one of his vile, sexist misogynistic status updates before I checked his past history and promptly blocked him. I also block racists and people who despise asylum seekers, so that's one big nasty boat of blockage that he's on in my book.

    The photos on IG were not only icky, they managed to out me off quite a large number of designers who sat in his lap. What on earth were they thinking?

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    1. I think it would be a shame to question the motives of the designers who sat on his lap - my guess is that they were probably either being polite/happy to join in on what felt like harmless fun at the time/not wanting to cause offence, but as long as they were happy to sit on Alex's lap I don't think that's the issue - the issue is how the company then used the photos and hashtagged them that was distasteful. Thank you so much for commenting, Michelle.

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  42. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here - I hadn't seen Abby's post, but I agree with what you have both said - it is really not appropriate in this day and age for any company to promote itself in a way that is demeaning to women, and especially one that has such a female-dominated customer base.

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  43. Great post, I think you've managed to address the issue in an even handed way. I had seen the Instagram pics and felt uncomfortable with them but hadn't thought much more about it until I saw Abby's post. It is important to speak up about these things, otherwise there is just a slow creep towards acceptance. As the mother of two older teens, I see some disturbing attitudes in some of their peer group around sex, relationships and equality. I do sometimes feel things have gone backwards compared to when I was a teenager.

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  44. The Ryan Gosling memes were funny because they were created by women as a joke for other women. Or men. But they weren't selling us anything. For Aurifil to reference it is lame. If a bunch of quilters fancied this guy so much that they made a bunch of memes about him that might have worked, but to do it about yourself? No.

    As for the women sitting on his lap, the situation should have been reversed. Surely Aurifil relies upon big name quilters to endorse the product - it's the only way I've heard of it. But really, the whole lap-sitting thing is undignified, no matter who is sitting on whose lap. Aurifil, surely you can create a brand that does not rely on some Italian guy's apparent hotness to sell it to women.

    Feminism is still very relevant. I'm a lucky first world, middle class, white woman so I get annoyed by advertising like this but I will also teach my daughters about the need to identify as feminists while there is still so much inequality for women in the first world, and the rest of the world.

    Thanks for standing up for women in this instance. We need bloggers who speak out!

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  45. Great post. The part about needing to stand up to this type of marketing on the part of those women in countries who do not have our rights and freedoms of the free world really resonated as well. I know the Aurigirl photos on Instagram were in fun but I also found them irritating and a bit weird. I'm glad you spoke up for all of us! I buy the thread because it's beautiful and because some of my favorite designers endorse it. Sexual connotations do not induce me to buy thread.

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  46. I popped over after reading Abby's piece. Just wanted you to know that I really like the way you've worded your views on this - I pretty much agree right down the line from the discomfort, to not boycotting a great product stocked by great independent shops, to requesting a company look at the message being received and make a correction to their tactics. Excellent, Florence!

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  47. A great post, and so well written. I agree wholeheartedly with all the points you have made. You should be proud to have made a difference by speaking up. Well done Florence!

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  48. I was unaware of this brewing issue until I read Abby's post yesterday (via twitter). I really like how she put the issue and even more, how you addressed it. Evenhanded & laid out suggestions for positive change. If the whole internet starts behaving this way, think of how amazing that would be?! (Haha)

    I'm also happy to hear there has been a positive response and hope the company can see what was unsettling about the approach they were taking.

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  49. Wow, what an amazing post and more amazing result. As soon as you mentioned aurifil in this post I knew what you were going to write about. I too have felt uncomfortable about these images and always felt that Alex was clearly misguided and not thinking straight. A case of the personal creeping into the professional situation in a very unwelcome way. The lap pictures spooked me every time I saw one as I put myself in that situation and I would definitely not want to sit on his lap and couldn't believe that all these other women had! Truly well done for speaking. X

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  50. Thanks for a great post. I have seen only some of the shots but did not consider them anything to do with thread at all and found them tasteless. I am sure Auriful doesn't need that kind of advertising as their thread as wide appeal anyway. x

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  51. Thank you for writing this post. I've found myself feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the whole campaign and its associated 'jokes' etc. I think for people to say this is just a minor issue and feminists have bigger fish to fry is a real cop-out. It's this kind of low-level misogynism that gradually escalates and makes people feel that it's ok and normal to denigrate women in this way. I've become much more aware of these 'minor' things since having a daughter.

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    1. I agree - it's changed my perspective on things a lot in having a daughter who is on the cusp of her teenage years. I think in some ways it feels as though things are going backwards for a time as we all adjust to an online age where a feeling of anonymity when sitting behind a screen causes people to say things that they may not say out loud to their acquaintances in everyday offline life.

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  52. What a great post and result. Thank you for your part in making the world a better place!

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  53. Thanks for enlightening me on this. Though I follow Aurifil on Twitter I don't manage to read them. It's such a shame for what I thought was a good example of a successful Italian brand.

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  54. Good for you Florence. I dont buy into any sewing gimmicky products, I'm not going out of my way to buy aurifil even more so :) its about time the online quilting world realised that they are part of a huge marketing scheme!! Its the quilting I love not the products. Thank you for your sensibility!

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  55. I have huge respect for Angela Walters turning the photo around but quite frankly cringed at the other photos. Happier now I know that designers were asked beforehand. Marketing people you got it wrong and I'm glad if I don't see these images again and thanks for helping to make that happen - great result!

    I do use Aurifil because it works as thread for me and my machine and will continue to do so as long as it does....it is good thread despite some marketing mistakes!

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  56. I am NOT a top quilter, but I follow everyone you are talking about. I think it's fair that you get some details before everyone assumes this is their regular marketing campaign. The Ryan Gosling Meme was started last winter/perhap even a year ago to giveaway a box of Aurifil thread. These boxes started with some very famous quilter names that have had a very long career, and as time has passed, included designers like Tula Pink, Jeni Baker, ect. and recently lots of boxes with designers that have just released a new collection line. I have heard about Aurifil thread for the past 3 years from people who make their living quilting all the way to beginning quilters. They have a quality product, plain and simple and that is why it is so popular. Way before the Meme post.

    The Tyan Meme started a year ago for a free box of thread worth $100. Someone had to name the caption to win the box. After that, someone said that Alex could be in the place of Ryan. Then they got him to do it as a joke. Then it grew. I don't even think it was meant to be sexual. (No more sexual than the original Meme) When you add the thread to it, the thread becomes the desired object in the photo.(at least for me).

    Like all things on the internet, there are going to be people who don't care, and people that are offended. (Look at the second comment about Grandmas. I found that more offensive than this Aurifil business. If we are going to be fair about it, then let's talk about how quilting is *NOT* an all-inclusive women and Grandma "hobby". I say "hobby", because I think of quilting as art. It's a way to create and be able to express yourself as an individual. That kind of crap totally negates anything you say to be taken seriously.)

    I can agree that the memes probably went too far, but it's easy to look picture and judge something, even though you weren't there. Most of those (#aurifil) girls have their fabric collection as an Aurifil box. It wasn't just a group of top people. You mentioned Angela, and she has a box for Legacy or the line before it. What I think I read, is that someone sat on his lap to take a selfie, another woman did it, and it was probably one of those things that are harmless but can be taken out of context.
    Being at market, and on IG that weekend, I think something that was fun for that group of people hanging out, became something that everybody saw, and the people on the receiving end may have gotten mixed signals. I can understand that, but I can also say, it looks like friends being super silly. I don't think the #aurigirl thing was supposed to be a sexual thing, or come off that way. I think it was more of you-had-to-be-there, and they weren't quite aware of what it looks like to the people on the other end. I like all those women, and know they don't usually market their own brands like that. Except for market, you never see those kinds of photos. You have to look at other things that were going on at the time. Some people only see those people once or twice a year. Not everyone was there to work. It's an exhausting weekend, and whether it was lack of sleep, or a drink at dinner, or just being silly, I see them as just being goofy.

    As for the other memes of Alex, while they are definitely controversial, I definitely wouldn't say I was disgusted. I don't think they are cute or funny, but I'm not mad about it. I don't read his tweets because I think Twitter is stupid. I don't have the image of him being over the top in a creepy/sexual way, so I can't say I'm offended. The crotch shot is a bit much, but I didn't see it when it came out.

    I am quite shocked by the number of people say they are so pissed off they want to vomit, but didn't send an email expressing how they feel!! That is a strong statement to make!

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  57. Well done and I wholly agree with you. I have no issue whatever with aurifil (and do find it a good thread) but I was finding the whole girl sitting on a lap odd. Aged 50 I still believe feminism In terms of equal rights for women has a long way to go. I'm not advocating a radical,approach but I do feel that there is still far too much overt anti female issues and more worrying a patronising attitude by some (not all males). As a teacher of secondary education I worry that my pupils do not consider it a valid issue and that both sexes appear to accept the images of women as overly sexualised and at times pornographically portrayed images of women are seen as being aspitational. Better stop now before I head off on a tangent.

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    1. Did you listen to the piece on Radio 4's Woman's Hour a few months ago covering just this topic? They interviewed a handful of teenagers - boys and girls - about their feelings about the way sex is now viewed when many teenagers' first ideas about sex are formed while watching pornography online. I really feel for the next generation, who I think have a far harder time deciphering what's 'normal' when they're surrounded by such easy access to extremes. That must be a difficult thing to witness on a daily basis as a teacher. Thank you so much for your comment.

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  58. CONT. Sorry it's long, but I maxed out.

    If you feel that offended by something, then say so! There are 70 comments on the blog and most agree with being offensive or having negative feelings. I can't believe there are THAT many comments, but it only took TWO (that I know of) blog posts, for the offending materials to be taken down. It baffles me, if you feel so upset it makes you want to vomit, that you wouldn't contact the offender. Chances are, you aren't the only one that feels like it. And if it violates your feelings as a woman, then say something! Sending a direct email is the best way to handle the situation. Sitting mute, doesn't make anything/anyone better. The worst thing that could happen, is nothing changes!!! At least you have the satisfaction that you stuck up for your feelings and principals. You can't be upset about something you aren't willing to stick up for.

    I'll end with this. I can understand why people are offended. I'm not and I explained it above. I think this wasn't intentional. Aurifil as a whole, is a great generous company. Every time a new box comes out, they usually give one away either on Aurifil blog or the designer's blog. Not to mention the sample packs they send to quilting blogs to giveaway to their readers. I honestly don't think this was ever meant to be an offensive thing. I think it's extremely important to be open minded, and to listen to both sides of the story before making a decision. If you are so offended by something that makes you want to puke, then EMAIL the offender! You probably aren't alone! What makes the quilting/sewing community so special, is because they share pieces of their life with us. This is why it's important to be open minded and touch base with something that might be offensive, because chances are, they don't want to be seen like that. You don't want the community to become super paranoid and secretive to post anything because they are afraid they might offend someone. At least I don't want it to be that way.

    karrie
    ksmith8@emich.edu

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts, Karrie.

      I think that the reason many people wouldn't have previously raised this point publicly or emailed Aurifil about it, is that often when people have an initial response to something that feels negative or uncomfortable, they often then doubt themselves and write off their initial instinct as being prudish/judgemental or whatever else, especially if no one else seems to be visibly minding. However, when someone finally speaks what they've been thinking, that's the point when people raise their hands and say 'me too!', just as I did in response to Abby's post and others have done here.

      I don't think this delayed response should reflect negatively on any of us or be implicit of weakness. As you've said at the end of your comment, we don't want a community where people become paranoid to be who they are, so it's a good thing that we don't all object the moment someone does one thing that we don't like. My post here was a considered one and the result of seeing or reading probably forty of fifty examples of things I found didn't feel quite right to me - it wasn't a knee-jerk reaction.

      I chose to post about this publicly, rather than email Aurifil about it, because I'd already seen some exchanges between Abby Glassenberg and Alex Veronelli on Twitter and felt that Aurifil's initial response to Abby raising the issue felt to me to be slightly flippant and dismissive. For this reason, I felt it was important to publicly reinforce that there were others who also found their marketing strategies uncomfortable, to give them the opportunity to change it, which they've now done.

      I appreciate that we won't all feel the same about this and I'm grateful that you took the time to share another point of view.

      Florence

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  59. I keep it Short : thanks for your encouriging Post!!!!

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  60. You write beautifully. I could have been reading an article in The Saturday Guardian or Telegraph. Well done for speaking up for all of us and our daughters.

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    1. I really love writing, so that's a really lovely comment to have crop up on a post that I'd found difficult to write. Thank you. x

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    2. Well said Annabella. I totally agree. Such a balanced and thought provoking article.

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  61. Thank you so much for speaking up about this. I never saw Alex's Hey Girl photos until now, but ick. I did stop following him on IG after the first batch of lap sitting photos. It is fine to schmooze at Quilt Market, but I don't need to see that. I'm so glad that you are brave and eloquent to share your thoughts. And I'm glad that Aurifil responded because I want to keep using their threads.

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  62. Thank you for addressing this. I thought I must have been the only one who felt this way. Very well said.

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  63. THANK YOU and AMEN!! I don't have twitter, but agree with what you said about the jokes. I've felt the exact same way about the misogynistic lap photos--they are gross and demeaning to all women, as though the designers and consumers are dependent on him/Aurifil, when clearly it is the other way around (yay Angela!). One of the other commenters said it was a Market thing and you had to be there--I kind of get that, but more lap photos have been posted since then. I love Aurifil threads, and hope the company moves forward in a way that is empowering it's customers--I really like what they do on FB--showing off how their customers use their threads in amazing and beautiful ways! Now that is exciting, empowering and fun!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Renee. Yes, I've always loved the way that Aurifil have celebrated their customer's work too - that's something that I feel they get very right and the photos are often really inspiring.

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  64. Love this so much. I've heard plenty of things from people regarding questionable comments from men in this industry and I'm glad it's getting recognition. Minor, misogynistic remarks and actions only build our tolerance for ignorant behavior. There's no need to try to make thread sexy to sell it to us-- it's THREAD. Aurifil has a quality product and this whole take is totally unnecessary.

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  65. You've said this so well and the response from Alex Veronelli sounds like a good outcome. Yours was really a simple request, though I know it must feel like you've really stuck your neck out, so thank you.

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  66. Thank you for having the courage to say what so many gave been thinking. Aurifil is a class act by responding to you and that makes me like their company even more.

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  67. I asked Alex about the jokes and mentioned they were a bit racy. So glad I'm not the only one.

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  68. Completely refreshing to read honest thoughts on a quilt blog. My own take on why this was allowed to continue until now is because of the unseemly and often unstated marketing link ups between quilt related companies and those who are prolific/high profile social media users. No one wants to openly bite the hands that feed them. I too didn't like the whole 'sitting on knee' thing. Add this to the fact that he's been through my IG feed several times and liked a bunch of my photos (in the hope I'll do that 'thanks for all the IG love' screen grab thing) and I had (rightly or wrongly) decided he was just 24 7 marketing Aurifil. It's a great thread, I have no plans to stop using it but do I feel any respect or warmth for the brand. Nope. Afraid I don't.

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  69. Great job. I like the quick response of Aurifil. With social medai, regardless of the initial intention, people just need to be careful. We can't know the intended context - only what a little picture on a cell phone screen shows us.

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  70. Your post is very well written, thoughtful and fair. Thank you for sharing. I'm happy to read that Aurifil responded quickly and with class. Kudos to everyone.

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  71. Thanks for writing this up. I have been really grossed out by this marketing technique. I don't get it at all. Doesn't work for me. I'm a young "modern" quilter too! Show me the threads!

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  72. Hi Florence, bit slow to see this, but I absolutely agree, about Aurifil and sexism in general; so subtely pervasive. I was at FQR last year and a man I believe was the chap in question was there and seemed to be regarded by some as quite the celebrity. Hmm. Really. They are definitely on the wrong tack (hoho) as far as I am concerned. Thanks for posting, Jen

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  73. I appreciate your adding to this discussion; however just to put things in perspective, the grotesque image shown on your blog of a naked baby exposing their private parts actually grosses me out more than a consenting adult sitting on another person's lap.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I'm really sorry you're offended by the baby in my sidebar - it's one of my favourite sculptures in London. It was created to celebrate the millennium and is meant to represent the birth of Christ. I'm not religious, but I do love seeing the peaceful image of the child carved into the stone where it sits outside a large church in Trafalgar Square. I'd never actually noticed the genitals before reading your comment.

      I too don't have any issue with a consenting adult sitting on another person's lap. My only issue with this was the way the photos were then used and hashtagged with #aurigirl by Aurifil for the reasons I talk about in my post. However, I appreciate that we won't all agree on this, so I've no wish to change your mind if that's how you feel - you are, of course, completely entitled to your opinion.

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  74. Florence, this is a professionally written and excellent blog post. I don't disagree with any of it. However, I would like to go back a bit, and pose a question to many of the comment-writers above and the online quilting community in general: does anyone else feel that perhaps the fun that got away from all of us started when Alex first hit the quilting social media scene and was himself a victim of constant sexual innuendo and inappropriate descriptors? I've seen him called The Italian Stallion, Sexy Thread Man, Gorgeous Thing...etc. I don't believe he ever sought out that kind of reputation. Maybe it all started because he wears beautiful Italian shoes, has a sincerely kind smile and is very engaging in person. I am certain that he never personally set out to make #aurigirl an "ad campaign", however I'm happy to see that he respects your, and many others', concerns with how Aurifil is perceived and marketed in social media and that he has taken action to make changes. There is no doubt in my mind, though, that Alex himself has been at the receiving end of sexist and inappropriate comments simply because he's a good looking man working in a female-dominated marketplace. I think there is a dual complicity in all of this.

    Sexual references and innuendo abound on Twitter and IG. Too often it seems like everyone reverts to their inner 13 year old boy. Just today I posted photos on IG from an art exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery and I used the hashtag #vag. Everyone in this city refers to the art gallery as the VAG (rhymes with bag), however right away on IG you can imagine the comments about lady parts that started. It never even occurred to me!

    I've used Auriful thread for over 10 years, long before I knew it was a family business, or that Alex even existed. I will continue to use it because it is a quality product that my sewing machine seems to love.

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    1. I agree that it's often appeared to me too that Alex is objectified within the quilting industry and I've never really understood whether that's something which he's enjoyed or if he's gone along with in the interests of 'being a good sport' or because if it sells more thread then it's just something that he's decided to endure with good grace - thank you for making that point - I think it's a completely valid one.

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  75. I've only just found out about this, and hadn't seen the print ads. I thought the lap-sitting on IG was weird, but honestly I chocked it up to a cultural difference. I've lived in macho countries like Italy, and it's just a whole different world. If given the choice, If I had been at Market I would not have sat on his lap, but I also wouldn't have been offended to have been asked. Although, in all honesty, if it were an American "good old boy" manufacturer I would have been completely offended.
    I've boycotted a lot in my life, and will continue to do so. However my feeling is that since Alex & company have been made aware and apologized, I feel no need to start boycotting Aurifil. He's agreed to try and make a change, and I respect that. I will continue to support his product as long as it is a good quality product.
    Thanks for posting this. It brought it to my attention and was very well put.
    Dana

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  76. I find it interesting that so many are offended by something that happened a couple of months, why if you were upset by these pictures didn't someone say something? I personally am not offended as Karrie above said I think you had to be there, I also don't think that they look inappropriate, think about this are we now going to stop our kids sitting on Santa's lap? Some may take offence of him having his arm around a child! Alex doesn't appear to have his arm around the women sitting on his lap, he has one arm resting on his knee and the other you can't see cos of the person. And if he was doing something inappropriate I'm sure you would know about it by now. Because if that was me on his lap and he tried something he'd get a slap in the face.
    I think sometimes society goes over the top with what it deems appropriate and inappropriate. Are we so rigid in our thinking these days that everything that is marketed and advertised has a sexual innuendo or is demeaning to women? Sometimes something is just a bit of fun.
    Thank you Florence for an interesting and well written article, I'm glad that you have had the courage to say what you think, judging by the many comments many people thought the same but did not want to bring it to the fore. And it's pleasing that Aurifil has responded in a positive manner to this situation. I for one, having just discovered the thread will not be boycotting using it! JT

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    1. I was absolutely not intending to insinuate in any way that Alex was doing anything inappropriate in that way - I don't have a problem with Alex putting his arm around anyone if they're happy for him to do that. My issue was with the way Aurifil had used the photos and hashtagged them with #aurigirl. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  77. Florence,

    I really admire your thoughtful and mature perspective in this post. I was unaware of any of it. I'm not a quilter and have never used Aurifil but am aware it is a popular brand. It sounds like it all worked out in the end from his tweet to you. That is great.

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  78. This is an exemplary post. Thank you and Abby for the thoughtful and intelligent way you have brought this to our attention. I saw one such ad and was turned off enough not to want to buy from that company. I'm so glad my silent vote will now be understood.

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  79. Florence, I have said it on the other blogs, so only fair I say it here too - there is too much crap going on in the world for one man who makes thread to really make that much of a difference to the world order.

    Different people have different senses of humour, different ideas of fun and ideas of what is or is not acceptable. If you don't like it, don't buy/watch/look at it, that's what I tell my kids, life is too short!

    I personally have no problem with any of Alex's natural or contrived antics. Each to his or her own, and move on; we are not talking Rolf Harris or Gary Glitter here.

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    1. No, we're absolutely not talking Rolf Harris or Gary Glitter. But does that mean we should only ever comment on that which is extreme to the point of illegality?

      As I said in my post, if I don't like something I normally avoid looking at it any further. The reason I wrote about this here is because it was far bigger than one incident - when a company's whole marketing strategy appears to be based on misogyny I do mind and I want to comment on that. Just as you didn't agree with my post and wanted to take the time to implore me to look the other way - we both had a wish to write down our feelings.

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    2. I think the whole way in which this has been handled, admittedly over on Abby's blog, is terrible. People who have not even seen the photos, had never heard of Aurifil nor Alex are deciding this man is a disgusting letch, should be boycotted and the people who support him are 'trash'. They feel able to type that to the world without any inhibitions or consequence, a double standard if ever there was one; they are exhibiting the kind of ire that should be saved for the worst of humanity.

      I never said anyone should look the other way, I am the first one to challenge things I don't agree with, and a direct email to Alex and his team would have been a far better approach than a couple of tweets then going full speed ahead with a public slating (Abby not you).

      If the response had then been negative, belittling or insulting and public, then bring. it. on; but all I can see is that the team has moved quickly to reassure and to try to stop any further offence, and I am sure that would have happened anyway without all the brouhaha.

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  80. Florence, your article is very sound in content and well presented, I really can't argue with it. However and I certainly won't win any brownie points from the sisterhood, but I personally think that women across the world have also played a part in this. I am from down under, do not know the man and most certainly never likely to meet him, but of course have noticed his presence as the face of Aurifil which I have thought to be a good advertising ploy in reaching their market target. What I have observed is that women appear to go gaga over this person elevating him to an Italian like representative of a Greek Adonis or quiltings answer to Hugh Heffner. Woman are seemingly drooling over his apparent handsome looks (all in the eye of the beholder) and exhibiting behaviour usually seen in a teenager with a crush on a pop star. With this saturation of adoration I am not surprised if his ego has grown out of all proportion. Maybe he felt comfortable with his PR gags etc, but he needed to rein it in a bit. I don't apologise for the innuendo that has been interpreted by and the disdain felt through the comments on these two blog sites, but I do just wonder if collectively we have all had a part to play by putting AV on such a pedestal. Then cried foul when it came back to bite - just another angle of thought, as I feel a bit humiliated on his behalf.

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    1. I agree with absolutely everything you've said. I don't think that makes a company's marketing strategy based on misogyny right, but I do think it's a completely valid reason for why it might have occurred and why it may not have felt too inappropriate to Alex within the culture of adoration in which he's been operating. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Deb.

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  81. I think this has been blown way out of porportion. Come on, we are adults here, aren't we? If someone doesn't want their picture take with Alex, they should have the guts to say so. This whole thing is like being back in junior high school where the popular kids make fun of the rest of us! If you don't like his ads then don't buy his thread. Then maybe it will go on sale and I can get lots and lots of it at a reduced price!! Grow up!
    Patty at paweis at yahoo dot com

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    1. As I said in my post, any negative impact from this on the people who run quilt shops would be a real shame - that's why I encouraged people not to boycott Aurifil, just to ask for a change in marketing practice. Aurifil going on sale would mean that the quilt shop owners were making less profit - I really hope that doesn't happen, even though obviously it would be lovely to be able to bulk buy when you really love the thread! Thank you for taking the time to share your views.

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  82. Very well written! I support what you said one hundred percent. You also went about it in a way that led to good discussion and was at all hateful. Thank you so much for being brave. :)

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  83. I think you've done a great post on pointing out facts, addresing issues, that are covered by laws in our own country. Yes, we live in worlds apart on social media, but its good to see that when you address something in a balanced and considered manner, it can be responded to in a positive way. I've been using Aurifil for at least 6 years, its about the product quality for me, not the marketing hype. Thanks for stepping up!

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  84. I apologize in advance, that I have not had the time to read every comment, so if I'm repeating this, sorry. One thing about the quilting/blogging business that has always bothered me is swag. So many of those women at QM have gotten a great deal of exposure via Aurifil and not cooperating could hurt their business. And I think that's the essence of what's disturbing about this to me. Designers consider themselves "independent" when in fact, they're not. They are obliged to the fabric companies, the thread companies, the lighting companies, the fabric retailers, etc. etc. And I think Aurifil exploited that. At the end of the day, I want to do my best to support those that share my values. I can't always do that, but I do my best. In my mind, Aurifil is exploiting women and I can't support that. Thank you, Florence (and Abby) and all the caring women and a few men who took the time out of your busy lives to respond to this. It is a small thing, in a fairly small community, but the little things add up.

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  85. Thank god you have the guts to stand up for what you think is right.
    Those photos are awful and cringe making.
    I salute you!
    Daisy J

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  86. I came upon this issue after the fact...didn't even see the photos, but understood the situation enough to realize you wrote a clear, well-thought commentary.

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  87. Goodness! I am quite the latecomer to this post.....which was very well thought out and written, by the way..... and I have to admit that the ads that were shown really took me aback. I must admit that, even though I quilt, I have not heard of this company or this "Alex" fellow. I was turned off by the ads that were shown and flabbergasted to see the whole "sex sells" concept creeping into this industry. I am not a prude by any stretch of the imagination. On the other hand, I am so weary of having sex thrust in my face for everything from toothpaste to toliet bowl cleaners it seems! I'm glad to hear that the company responded promptly and removed the ads. And it would be a shame if one ill advised ad campaign negatively impacted the growth of a company that, apparently, makes a quality product that is well liked by a large number of people. I would love to send a message out to all companies in regards to advertising their products. Sex may, indeed, sell.......but not to me.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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