This morning I received a press email with the subject line “A water bottle designed for Women in Tech.” Does it provide optimal hydration for women about to ascend the glass cliff? Will it induce hyponatremia when your male colleague passes off your idea as his own during the team meeting? Does it include an easy button that allows you to remotely report sexual harassment to HR? Update: Memobottle has disavowed the pitch that prompted this post. Please see the updates at the bottom.
Nah, it’s just small. From the email:
Recently launched ‘memobottle A7’ is designed for working professional women. The same size as an A7 paper - so it fits neatly into any woman’s carry while still holding a useful amount of water.
While a product designed with women in mind isn’t inherently bad, one that explicitly targets women by simply shrinking it down to fit in a purse is dumb. Hardware like smartwatches and smartphones could stand to scale down to better fit all gender preferences, but simply marketing something as cute and clutch-sized and therefore apt for a woman is just lazy. As we saw with Huawei’s female-styled smartwatches and this dainty pink smartphone for women, designing and marketing to gender stereotypes is not what women want.
It’s important to note that it doesn’t appear these water bottles were truly designed for women in tech—the Kickstarter page shows the smol bottle wielded by both men and women. When we reached out to the Memobottle press contact to find out if this product was developed with women in mind, I was told the following:
In terms of the A7 being designed for women — its more about fashion than anything. The A7 is the only bottle on the market that holds 6fl oz and can fit into a small bag (because it’s so thin). There are hardly any small bags for men, but for women there are many fabulous bags that are small.
The Kickstarter campaign for the new Memobottles, which we should note has been fully funded at this point, also includes these sweet premium leather sleeves, for all of the thirsty professionals out there who wish their water bottle had a special slot for a credit card.
In fairness, Gizmodo praised the design of the first run of Memobottles. I even have one of these larger bottles. My delicate lady grip grows stronger with each swig. Plus it can accommodate a whole bottle of wine, which I highly recommend for when you’re purging your inbox of bad press emails.
Update 6:49 PM ET
Memobottle has publicly disavowed the PR pitch that we received this morning, saying in a tweet that it was “rogue copy.”
The company later clarified the situation by DM: “we hired the firm to promote our Kickstarter campaign with the information and images that we provided them (based on the content from our Kickstarter page) - not the angle that they ran with.”
Memobottle has since tweeted several of its publicity images showing men using the new water bottles.
Update 8/17/2017 6:55 PM ET
Memobottle has amended its previous statement, and now says that it hired crowdfunding-oriented firm Crowd PR to do its public relations, and that it has no affiliation with the firm “Misty Mountain PR” that sent us the pitch.
Reached for comment, Crowd PR denied any affiliation with Misty Mountain and told us a bizarre tale.
According to Crowd PR’s William Henry, the PR email we received was sent by a former employee of the company who still had access to the company’s client list through the company’s account with the online project management tool Trello. According to Henry, the former employee, who he claims left the company in April, was pitching Crowd PR’s clients to journalists in an effort to generate press and then lure them away from Crowd PR. Henry says that the former employee has now had his Trello access revoked.