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RECOM Revisited: Reform or just PR Ploy?

10/17/13

  07:45:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 559 words  
Categories: Ranting

RECOM Revisited: Reform or just PR Ploy?

The folks over at RECOM - the Greek solar module manufacturer made famous for their not-so brilliant marketing strategy that featured women in cages - have announced a new initiative to provide scholarships to two women in the solar industry.  Which begs the question: have the frat boys behind RECOM reformed or is this just a PR ploy on the eve of SPI?  Here’s our take.

After Intersolar NA in July, RECOM took a great deal of flak - from this blog and elsewhere - for their sexist marketing device of putting attractive women in cages as a way of promoting their solar modules.  And if you wonder what caged women in torn clothing have to do with solar modules, well, you are on track to understanding why so many people were upset.  When people started complaining, RECOM lashed out, even attempting to get one women (that we know of) fired for having had the audacity to complain about their sexism.

(Interestingly, a number of positive developments have arisen including a much higher profile for the Women in Solar group and the launching of a survey aimed at capturing the views of women about solar marketing. Sort of like making lemonade from oh-so sour lemons.)

Against that backdrop - and with the country’s largest solar conference set to start next week (more on that tomorrow) - RECOM yesterday sent out a notice about a new promotion where they would choose two women who have been working in the solar industry for at least three years to attend UC Berkeley’s Executive Leadership program.  From their announcement:

RECOM Professional women in solar Scholarship recipients will each receive a financial award to attend UC Berkeley’s Executive Leadership Program in April 2014. Two female students will be chosen from the applicant pool, and scholarships will be awarded based on the strength of each candidate’s professional background and demonstrated leadership. In addition, all scholarship recipients and finalists will be invited to attend a retreat at RECOM. We know how important a supportive peer network can be for a student’s success. The retreat will include workshops, speakers, breakout sessions and social activities scheduled over a couple of days.

The tuition for the Berkeley program is $9,900 which means that for a measly twenty grand or so, RECOM is hoping to recast their persona as solar bad boys and align themselves on the side of the angels.  But have they actually reformed?

To be sure, their website isn’t (presently) sporting the videos that they happily touted after Intersolar, and they’ve scrubbed some of their creepier copy.  But the website is still replete with objectified images of women, such as this example captured as a screenshot just this morning:

RECOM unchangedImages like this really have nothing to do with solar and shouldn’t be a part of a solar marketing campaign, yet here it is, on the RECOM website, reached from a link referring to “Munich ‘13… The Cage” on a page hyping “The Show” and suggesting that you “Experience the Difference… and join us in a place where reality becomes unreal.”

Frankly, in our opinion, what is unreal is the notion that RECOM has changed its stripes.

It will be interesting to see what reaction RECOM gets at SPI and how many professional women in solar sign up to be considered for their scholarship.  As our favorite woman on the TV-machine likes to say, “watch this space.”

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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