Mind Your Manners, Ad Writers

Sexism and high-technology don't mix, according to the members of GraceNet.net.

Sex doesnt sell well with GraceNet.net, a self-described "New Girls Network" for women in high technology. The San Francisco-based group—named after computer programming and cryptography pioneer Grace Hopper—is dispensing monthly DisGraceful Awards to advertisers who tend to go over the top. Decembers "winner," server appliance maker Qsol, ran an ad in the November issue of Linux Journal depicting "an attractive young woman with big red lips" and the message, "Dont feel bad. Our servers wont go down on you, either."

Dont even snicker about it: Five people were fired when Vinod Gupta, chairman of InfoUSA Inc., learned that they had authorized an ad for his company featuring "a blonde woman wearing black leather, a mask and a dog collar." That ad caught GraceNets attention—and the "award"—in January.

Gupta said of GraceNet, "I feel good that there are people who are watching these things to keep us honest."

The big guys better worry, too. GraceNets March winner is IBM Lotus, which allegedly ran a sexist ad for IBMs Mindspan Solutions.Whos doing your ads?