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Nine West under fire for ‘husband-hunting’ shoes

Aug. 5, 2014 at 1:08 PM ET

Nine West is getting nipped at the heels online for a cheeky new campaign.

The marketing highlights how its shoes can be used for various "occasions," but the scenarios the brand envisions are a bit past the typical "business party" or "night out with the gals" categories.

One of the new ads features a woman's leg in a leopard print pump with her hand holding an arrow and wearing an archery arm guard. It bears the caption, "starter husband-hunting." In another, a pair of tiptoe black peep toe booties are labeled "first day of kindergarten shoes." The copy says, "the bus arrives and so do the waterworks. Then it hits you: mommy now has the weeks [sic] off." Another, headlined, "anticipatory walk of shame" shows a woman with a pair of the brand's flip-flops sticking out of a Nine West handbag.

Video: Nine West under fire for ‘husband-hunting’ shoes

Nine West did not return voicemails and emails seeking comment. But the brand told The New York Times it was shooting to update the way it talked to women, using a "brassier" tone more in the voice of the HBO series "Girls" or the occasionally raunchy stand-up comic Amy Schumer.

While the campaign is aiming to sound modern, some social media commenters said it actually came across as retrograde and sexist.


Media experts said the campaign may have missed its mark.

Video: The shoe company is stirring up the Internet with new shoes targeted for such occasions as “husband hunting” and “first day of Kindergarten.”

"The tone does not feel ‘girlfriend’ and it doesn’t feel conspiratorial,” Jen Drexler, senior vice president at the Insight Strategy Group and co-author of “What She’s Not Telling You,” told the New York Times.

"If you really liked women, you’d be calling that a ‘victory lap,’ not a ‘walk of shame.’"

But others online felt that people should lighten up and not take an ad about shoes that's trying to be funny so seriously.

"Seriously people need to calm down," wrote one Facebook commenter. "Maybe these shoes can help you get laid so you can chill out.

The TODAY anchors thought maybe the brand should have instead tried categories that empower women. "How about the boardroom shoe?" said Natalie Morales.

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