What happens when the best intentions meet the lowest bidder? In the EU’s campaign to attract more women to STEM fields, the teaser video gets yanked and somewhere in Brussels, a creative team is getting very, very drunk.

Let me reverse-engineer this and describe what caused this train wreck: money. Whether you budget in euros or dollars, the difference between what an ad agency charges, and what it costs to produce the work, is profit. To maximize profit, certain things are left out. In this case, I’m guessing “research” was left out. Ironic, huh?

Nobody thought to spend any time or money to find out what attracts women to science in the first place. So, the agency fell back on stereotype: high heels, fashion and makeup.

The campaign was launched in Europe, and as awareness traveled from time zone to time zone, the Real Women of Science chimed in on Twitter. It was not pretty.

What do we learn? 1) Don’t patronize and; 2) don’t cheap out on research.

UPDATE: Lots of people searching for this: The Science: It’s a Girl Thing teaser video was produced by the Emakina agency. Tipik is the agency on the overall campaign.

UPDATE #2: I was wrong. It turns out, the EU did indeed hire a group of “gender role” experts to give guidance. But the agency simply ignored them. I don’t know what is worse, not hiring experts, or hiring them and ignoring them.