OnePlus screws up again, this time with a sexist photo contest

When OnePlus first announced that it was planning to launch the 'perfect smartphone' for under $500, we were intrigued. By the time the company had teased and hyped up its offering further, eventually revealing that the OnePlus One would cost just $299, we were very excited, as were many others interested in buying the device. 

But since then, OnePlus has made one questionable decision and error after another, squandering much of the good will that it managed to build up. First off, the company didn't just let people buy the device - instead, those wanting to purchase it had to obtain an 'invite' to do so, being required to take part in social media activities and 'contests' in order to get one. 

When OnePlus finally started shipping devices, it emerged that an entire batch of the handsets sent to Europe had to be returned, after the company changed the design of the regulatory 'EC' mark - a symbol that, it surely goes without saying, must never be altered by manufacturers. Curiously, it seems that OnePlus shipped those devices with the incorrect regulatory mark direct to customers anyway, as MoDaCo's Paul O'Brien later received a handset featuring the illegitimate modified CE symbol.

The latest faux pas from OnePlus came yesterday, as it launched its latest contest to give potential buyers the opportunity to compete for an invite to be able to buy the handset. Called 'Ladies First', it encouraged women to "draw the OnePlus logo on a piece of paper or on your hand/face/wherever" and then take a photo of themselves and post it in a thread on the company's forums to be judged. 

According to the terms, "the 50 most well-liked ladies" in the contest - presumably those that a bunch of men had decided were the hottest - would receive an invite and a t-shirt bearing the company's 'Never Settle' slogan, while a further 100 invites would be randomly given out to a random selection of other female participants.

OnePlus itself said that there are "few but beautiful female fans in our community", and that the vast majority of its forum members are therefore male. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there has been considerable backlash across the web since the contest was first launched, with many criticising the company both for running such a sexist competition, and for its evident lack of respect for its female audience.

Predictably, OnePlus has now pulled the competition completely and, in a statement to Engadget, explained: 

OnePlus is thrilled to have a small but growing number of women active in our online community. We want to encourage even more women to get involved with and excited about the amazing things happening in tech right now. The 'Ladies First' contest was a very misguided effort by a few isolated employees to do just that, however there is no question the post not only failed to better include our female community but actually perpetuated a stereotype that OnePlus in no way supports or condones. We deeply regret any offense caused by this contest."

This might just be the company's most stupid move since it invited people to smash up their flagship phones in the hopes of winning the chance to be able to buy a OnePlus One. If you need any convincing of why that's a bad idea - apart from the obvious possibility of not winning - see what happens when enthusiastic morons take a hammer to a smartphone battery. 

Source: Engadget | top image via OnePlus; lower image via BGR

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37 Comments

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I was at one point interested in this device, however this nonsense invite system extinguished any passing curiosity I had completely.

Apple will be getting my money for their next handset.

Who cares about the phone anymore. I was going to purchase this phone originally when it was announced and given a release date. Still can't buy the phone today. Sick of their stupid invite method. Why promote something no one can buy, especially with no new hard release date. At this point I think a lot of people are just going to wait on the new Nexus, even if the One+ is publicly available tomorrow. I was really looking forward to the One+, loved the concept and idea, but they have really pushed me away.

Agree, but the problem is they have very limited production and basically despite the current invite system, they sell pretty fast every phone they make.

So for them the invite system is not a problem. Plus, it creates a hype around the phone that make many people want it (like for a trophy or something). It's a psychological thing.

When they'll fix the production issues, be sure they'll drop as fast as they can the current invite system.

I know what you mean. It is just irritating the way they are doing it. Let people order it, and it can say estimated ship date 2-3 weeks, 3-4 weeks, etc etc based on how many orders they have in their system. Just like every other phone release is now. The invite system is based on you spamming advertisements out about their phone and just puts everyone else in the same boat. I can see doing it as a promotion thing in the beginning, but that time is way past and it needs to just be released to buy.

The OnePlus One is a great phone and they have certainly done very well creating so much hype, along with gaining masses of good publicity with no marketing budget what so ever.

However I do think they are starting to annoy people now, buying a phone has invite only since May this year, yet in China you can easily purchase the exact same phone with no trouble what so ever.

Every Facebook post one the OnePlus page is just full of negative comments about the company now, invite contests like that certainly don't appear to be helping them.

I do hope OnePlus get their act together as the phone is fantastic value money, and the build quality / software is excellent. I certainly want to see OnePlus learn from this and go on to release more phones in the future.

I open the door for ladies and let them walk through first.... I guess I'm sexist?

Society is headed to a dark, dark place....

Yes it's heading to a dark place, with people like you around who don't even read articles properly before making stupid comments.

This has nothing to do with "ladies first". It's about getting women to take selfies, so guys can vote on who they think is the hottest.

Error1 said,
Yes it's heading to a dark place, with people like you around who don't even read articles properly before making stupid comments.

This has nothing to do with "ladies first". It's about getting women to take selfies, so guys can vote on who they think is the hottest.


I've read the article... I still think it's pretty stupid to get panties all wound up in a bunch over this...

I was excited about the phone, and had planned to buy one, until I found out it was "invite only". What bullsh**. No thanks, I don't need a new phone that badly.

Let's play another kind of game next time and let black people select the 10 white person to receive them first.

Any form of sexism, racism or bigotry is not fun.

sexism: prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

And where does this contest fall under?

c.grz said,
sexism: prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

And where does this contest fall under?


According to that definition, this contest is sexist against men. We are not allowed to take part because we're men. That's discrimination based on gender.

Still, contests usually have criteria, and I have never understood why gender is any different from other criteria. If a contest is for women only, I cannot see the problem with that - I'll wait for the one where men are allowed too.

From my two seconds of searching, Scandinavia still has "Beauty Contests". According to your method of thinking; that's as sexist as it gets; isn't it?

And the U.S. did not run this campaign; a private company did.

The people crying about this being sexist are the sexists here. Jesus crap, they must also drop tears every time someone mentions ladies first or ladies-only.

Offering something to one gender but not the other is, by definition, sexist.

Is there any equivalence - a competition of guys sharing their selfies, being judged by OnePlus female members solely on their appearance in order to win an invite? No? Sexist.

The level at which people take offence over these matters varies from person-to-person, and depends on circumstance, of course. But the contest itself was, definitively, sexist.

That wasn't the problem. The problem was the contest One Plus was running which effectively had women take selfies of themselves and send them to One Plus to be voted on who should get invites to buy an OPO. That is the problem everyone has with this; not the "ladies first" contest name.

Draconian Guppy said,
Yeah, $100 dollars more, not counting international shipping and customs hell

I got my 64gb OnePlus One for £268 delivered to the UK, no customs or anything.

The official OnePlus website charges £269 + £10+ shipping, then apparent customs fees, so I think I did quite well buying one from Aliexpress.

I did a little guide on importing one in regards to LTE bands and so on: http://digiex.net/guides-revie...nds-what-you-need-know.html

Yep, there is no such thing as bad press. They got epic amounts of press. Best example is you old favorite Justin Bieber who would not be as popular as he is only because of all the hate :D