Lingerie retailer Honey Birdette says it was forced to censor an advert in Australia that would get the green light to be shown in the United States and Britain.
Eloise Monaghan, the founder of the company which started in Brisbane, stripped off for
the photoshoot herself along with her wife Natalie. The two women and a number of other male and female models feature with their chests bared in the photoshoot campaign dubbed fluid.
The models are body-painted in rainbow colours in a nod to the
famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras which is being held on February 29.
Monaghan said she could show the ad in her New York and London stores but constant complaints to the advertising watchdog in Australia forced her to censor the poster in her
own country. Monaghan said Australia used to be free-thinking but has recently become stricter which she says is frightening.
The Australian moralist group Collective Shout whinged:
Collective Shout has
campaigned against Honey Birdette's pornified representations of women for close to a decade. Honey Birdette has been found in breach of Ad Standards rulings 31 times since January 2018. Caitlin Roper of Collective Shout said:
from promoting equality, this is an act of rainbow washing for profit. The company claims diversity while featuring flawless bodies and large-breasted women.
The ad has received an outpouring of criticism on Honey Birdette's
Instagram and Facebook page, including for profiting off of Pride and as a blatant attempt to cover up an orgy with a rainbow filter.
Collective Shout has supported a petition launched by Melbourne father of three Kenneth Thor
directed at CEOs of shopping centres which host Honey Birdette's porn-inspired portrayals which has attracted almost 77,000 signatures. Honey Birdette has a counter petition which we have been told by a source close to the company comprises a large
percentage of fake names added by staff.
A marketing email from Boohoo, received on 15 July 2019, featured the subject heading Send Nudes. The body of the email contained a photo of a female model wearing a beige jacket with the words Send nudes. Set the tone with new season hues written across
A complainant challenged whether the reference to send nudes was socially irresponsible.
Boohoo.com UK Ltd said that their use of the word nude was solely to describe the colour resembling that
of the wearer's skin. They said they targeted their customers by sending them the latest fashion trends, including the trend for nude colours. They said that the word was widely used by other retailers in relation to apparel. The Boohoo brand targeted
any individual under 16 years of age.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA acknowledged that the term nude was commonly described to refer to colours that were similar to some people's skin tones. At
the same time, the phrase send nudes was likely to be understood as referring to requests for sexual photos, which could be a form of sexual harassment. We noted that increased pressure to share such photos had been linked to negative outcomes for young
people. Boohoo's target market was aged 16 to 24. We noted that the ad had only been sent to those who self-declared that they were over 18, but online age was often misreported, and we had not been provided with details of any further steps Boohoo had
taken to reduce the likelihood of under-18s being targeted with the ad. Given the general price point of Boohoo's clothing and the age of the target market, there was also likely to be some overlap with even younger teenagers who aspired to looks
associated with a slightly older age group. While the ad played on a well-known phrase to highlight a fashion trend, we considered the specific reference chosen had the effect of making light of a potentially harmful social trend. Furthermore, in the
subject heading of an email, without any further context, the phrase send nudes was likely to be disconcerting for some recipients, particularly those who might have personal experience of being asked to send nudes.
In the context
of an ad aimed at a relatively young audience who were more likely to be harmfully affected by pressure to share sexual images of themselves, we considered that the reference to send nudes was socially irresponsible and breached the Code.
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Boohoo.com UK Ltd to ensure their ads were socially responsible.
A TV ad for the Volkswagen eGolf, seen on 14 June 2019, opened with a shot of a woman and a man in a tent. The woman was asleep and the man switched off the light and closed the tent, which was shown to be fixed to a sheer cliff face. The following
scene depicted two male astronauts floating in a space ship. Text stated When we learn to adapt. The next scene showed a male para-athlete with a prosthetic leg doing the long jump. Text stated we can achieve anything. The final scene showed a woman
sitting on a bench next to a pram. A Volkswagen eGolf passed by quietly. The woman was shown looking up from her book. Text stated The Golf is electric. The 100% electric eGolf. Issue
Three complainants, who believed that the ad
perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by showing men engaged in adventurous activities in contrast to a woman in a care-giving role, challenged whether it breached the Code.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The first scene of the ad showed both a man and a woman in a tent, panning out to show that it was fixed to the side of a cliff and therefore implying that they had both climbed up the steep rock face. However, the woman was shown
sleeping, by contrast with the man in the scene. Furthermore, due to the short duration of the shot and its focus on the movement of the man, it was likely that many viewers would not pick up on the fact that it featured a woman, as was the case with the
The ad then showed two male astronauts carrying out tasks in space and a male para-athlete doing the long jump. We considered that viewers would be likely to see the activities depicted as extraordinary and
adventurous -- scientific and career-based in the case of the astronauts and physical in the case of the athlete. That impression was reinforced by the claim When we learn to adapt, we can achieve anything. While we noted that a third astronaut
appeared in the background, the image was very brief and not prominent. We considered that many viewers would not notice the presence of a third person, and if they did, the image was insufficiently clear to distinguish their gender.
The first two scenes both more prominently featured male characters. While the majority of the ad was focussed on a theme of adapting to difficult circumstances and achievement, the final scene showed a woman sitting on a bench and
reading, with a pram by her side. We acknowledged that becoming a parent was a life changing experience that required significant adaptation, but taking care of children was a role that was stereotypically associated with women.
In context, the final scene (the only one that featured the product) gave the impression that the scenario had been used to illustrate the adaptation and resulting characteristic of the car -- so quiet that it did not wake the baby or register with the mother -- rather than as a further representation of achievement, particularly as the setting was relatively mundane compared to the other scenarios.
Taking into account the overall impression of the ad, we considered that viewers were likely to focus on the occupations of the characters featured in the ad and observe a direct contrast between how the male and female characters
were depicted. By juxtaposing images of men in extraordinary environments and carrying out adventurous activities with women who appeared passive or engaged in a stereotypical care-giving role, we considered that the ad directly contrasted stereotypical
male and female roles and characteristics in a manner that gave the impression that they were exclusively associated with one gender.
We concluded that the ad presented gender stereotypes in way that was likely to cause harm and
therefore breached the Code.
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Volkswagen Group UK Ltd to ensure their advertising did not present gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm,
including by directly contrasting male and female roles and characteristics in a way that implied they were uniquely associated with one gender.
Offsite Comment: Stereotypically Stupid: The ASA's Latest Slice Of Lunacy