Advertising Standards Board: Case Report

Advertising Standards Board: Case Report (14/10)
February 10, 2010
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DESCRIPTION OF THE ADVERTISEMENT

This outdoor advertisement depicts a naked woman lying on her back with her arms across her chest. She has jewellery on one of her arms. The words Bunda Boutique are written on the page.

THE COMPLAINT

A sample of comments which the complainant/s made regarding this advertisement included the following:

I object to the objectified and sexualised nature of the advertisement. I am deeply concerned in the highly sexualised ‘background noise’ that much advertising adds to our society, of which this is a prime example.

Further, while I can chose to look away (although this is quite difficult given the very large size of this poster), I have observed that my 2 year old daughter does not, naturally, have the same self control. We walk past this advertisement regularly and I am concerned about the impact on her of exposure to such images. I believe the sexualisation of women is detrimental to the normal development of children’s sexuality, and the fact that I can do little to prevent her exposure to it is unacceptable.

As Lauren Rosewarne has argued, ‘public space is a public good and thus images displayed in it need to be appropriate for the entire audience who is not only exposed, but held captive, to these public images… Audiences cannot restrict their exposure to outdoor advertisements; therefore contents need to be restricted to avoid socially excluding, offending and sexually harassing those held captive to them’. (‘Sex on the Street’, p55-67 in ‘Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls’ edited by Melinda Tankard Reist).

THE ADVERTISER’ S RESPONSE

Comments which the advertiser made in response to the complaint/s regarding this advertisement included the following:

We have read the complaint in detail and are sorry the complainant has interpreted the image to be “objectified and sexualized”. In relation to the person in advertisement (Woman) the image was created with the intention of projecting the image of positive beauty in a confident woman. The image is focused on the woman’s face and upper torso, and her position does not reveal any nudity.

The advertisement also does not have any copy line that references the women, it does however talk about the products with the copy line ‘Ready to Wear Collections”There has been no intention to “objectify and sexualize” in this advertisement. We have used this image in other media’s and it has been authorized by organizations such as EYE Corp and Qantas for outdoor use.

These organizations have constant requirements to look at media and make authorizations to put

up on their sites. With the vast volume of media they are dealing with we would believe that they would bean excellent judge of whether an advertisement “objectified and sexualized”. No such comment was ever made to us by these respected organisations.We also make reference to a recent magazine cover of ‘Marie Clare’ featuring a totally nude image of Jennifer Hawkins. This magazine is one of Australia’s preeminent woman’s magazines and has chosen to use Jennifer Hawkins, one of Australia’s most celebrated and well known women, and use a naked image of her on the cover. Even though this image of a nude Jennifer Hawkins on the cover of one of Australia’s highest selling women’s magazines is a lot more revealing than our advertisement, it still does not “sexualize and objectify” her or women but casts a positive image of her natural beauty.

Again we are sorry if the complainant has interpreted the advertisement in this way, however there has been no intention to objectify and sexualize in the image created. Further to this we respectfully refer the Board to the review and authorization process of this advertisement undertaken with Eye Corp and Qantas to show that this image is perceived to be acceptable for advertising.

THE DETERMINATION

The Advertising Standards Board (“Board”) considered whether this advertisement breaches Section 2 of the Advertiser Code of Ethics (the “Code”).

The Board noted the complainant’s concerns that the woman was depicted in an overly sexualised manner which might be detrimental to the normal development of children’s sexuality.

The Board viewed the print advertisement and noted the advertiser’s response.

The Board considered whether the advertisement was in breach of section 2.3 of the Code. Section 2.3 of the Code states:

“Advertising or marketing communications shall treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience and, where appropriate, the relevant programme time zone.”

The Board noted that the outdoor advertisement was for the promotion of jewellery and that the woman in the advertisement was nude. The Board considered that, although nude, the woman was not posed in a sexualised manner and that the focus of the advertisement was clearly the jewellery which is for women. The Board noted that this advertisement is an outdoor advertisement and is available for viewing by a broad audience. The Board considered however that the image was stylised, focused on and relevant to the product, and not overtly sexualised. The Board considered that the advertisement treated nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience and that it did not breach section 2.3 of the Code.

Finding that the advertisement did not breach the Code on other grounds, the Board dismissed the complaint.