Monday, October 21, 2013

Another brand makes "getting banned" part of its marketing strategy

If I was just in this for the money, I'd consider opening up an ad agency that specializes in things that offend people, like this:

Really, what's the point in bothering with things like research, strategy and creativity, when you can just put a half-dressed woman in an awkwardly-sexualized context and have men leer at her?

In this case, Innerware, an Australian lingerie retailer, managed to do it in a way that upset prudes and feminists alike.

Here are some sample complaints made to Australia's Advertising Standards Authority:
It disgusted me and it is degrading to women. I thought it was an ad for the sex industry when I first saw it.  
I feel the ad represents low level porn.  This ad offends me because the purpose is to advertise women's lingerie, not to objectify women and promote attention by strange men as the main goal of wearing lingerie. This is demeaning to a lot of women. The ad is more aimed at men than women, yet it is advertising a product made for women.
It objectifies women and makes them out to be a piece of meat. it doesn't actually sell the lingerie at all only the fact that men want to service you. It's filth!!! 

And here is the advertiser's response:
The concept is intended to be quirky and tongue in cheek. In no way was there any intention  to discriminate against, objectify, exploit or degrade women. Innerware is a retailer of ladies underwear and the actress was wearing their product.  
The woman is portrayed as being very confident and in control. In absolutely no way is she undermined by the males in the ad. Her attire, although revealing, is classy and covers all genitalia. There is no nudity in this ad. 

"All genitalia"? Are there new genital parts of which I was not aware?

The "she's in control" argument is an old one, but it never seems to go away. Nonetheless, this pointless ad did what it set out to do — get the brand talked about.

And interestingly, the ASA bought the advertiser's rationale and found the ad neither "objectification," "exploitative," nor "degrading":
The Board noted that the product advertised is lingerie and considered that whilst a depiction of a woman in lingerie is not of itself exploitative and/or degrading in the Board's view the depiction of a woman in her lingerie asking a tyre fitter if he can "fit" her is a purposeful use of her sexual appeal to attract the attention of the viewer to the product being advertised.  The Board noted that the woman deliberately dressed in a manner that will attract the attention of the employees of the workshop and that she appears to be enjoying the attention of the men who work there. The Board considered that although the advertisement does use sexual appeal, it is not portrayed in a manner that is exploitative and degrading to women. 

Instead, they banned the ad because of "sexualisation":
However the Board considered that the advertisement did have a strong sexual suggestion with the combination of the woman wearing lingerie, her sexualised strutting, the focus on her body and the sexualised conversation. In the Board‟s view the level of sexualisation was not sensitive even to an M [mature audiences only] classification.  Based on the above the Board considered that the advertisement depicted images which did not treat the issue of sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience and determined that the advertisement did breach Section 2.4 of the Code. 

So sexism is just dandy on Australian TV, but there's something wrong with "bein' sexy".


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