Girls' Education Campaign Runs Street Ad Only Women Can See

Next step in facial recognition

The transformation of bus stops into advertising laboratories continues this week in London, where an Oxford Street shelter will be fitted with facial-recognition technology that allows women to view a 40-second Plan UK "Because I Am a Girl" ad, while men will see only a URL. A client rep explains: "We're not giving men the choice to see the full ad so they get a glimpse of what it's like to have basic choices taken away." Wags might suggest that many guys wouldn't want to see the ad anyway unless it had hot chicks in it. I'd never stoop so low. Seriously, Plan UK has an intriguing strategy, although it's been somewhat lost in media coverage focusing mainly on the system that can tell the genders apart and serve ads accordingly. Most stories compare that aspect to the individually targeted ads portrayed in films like Minority Report—read: "futuristic" and "scary"—with critics decrying the "creepy" and potentially invasive nature of such systems. (Plan UK says the facial data will not be stored.) Per the BBC, the software is correct about gender roughly 90 percent of the time. Perhaps it can be fooled by wigs, masks and makeup. It'd be a hoot if men dressed in drag just to trick the system. At the very least, it would enliven the daily commute.