It’s that time of year again! With the Christmas season upon us, retailers are taking it up a notch competing for your business.
Now is the time to remember the companies who objectified women and sexualized girls to sell products and services. They do not respect women and have refused to change their ways. They should not be allowed to profit on the backs of women and girls.
You can make a difference by making an ethical purchasing choice, sending a clear message about the importance of corporate social responsibility.
Here’s our list of stand out corporate offenders for 2014.
While major department stores Target and Kmart opted to withdraw Grand Theft Auto V after a campaign lead by women survivors of violence, Big W chose profits over ethics, continuing to sell a game where players can brutally murder women for fun. Big W was also the target of a petition calling for removal of sexualised Christmas t-shirts. Read more here.
General Pants Co
General Pants attracted complaints for their ‘Wet Dreams’ ad campaign in shopping centres nationwide. Their history of porn-themed advertising here.
City Beach has a long history of selling products with sexist, violent and porn inspired imagery to its youth market. Read more here.
Fresh One/Fresh Boost
Fresh Boost used pornographic images, including simulated sex acts to advertise their coffee bean grand, Fresh One. Read more here.
Online marketplace CafePress has a long history of selling clothing and merchandise with sexualised, porn-inspired and pro-rape slogans and imagery, including on clothing for babies and toddlers. Read more here.
Ultra Tune came under fire for their sexist ad using rubber clad dominatrix women to promote car accessories. Read more here.
Schick For Men’s ‘Get Closer’ campaign is a classic example of objectification, using women’s bodies and breasts to promote men’s hygiene products. We hijacked their campaign. Read more here.
Bonds reignited their BOOBS outdoor advertising campaign, objectifying women and defining them by their ‘perky’, ‘saggy’ or ‘bouncy’ breasts. Several years ago we successfully lobbied Bonds to withdraw bras for six year old girls. Read more here.
Honey Birdette is a sex shop masquerading as a high-end lingerie store in shopping malls around the country. Honey Birdette persists with violating advertising standards with its porn-themed shop front advertising. At Christmas Honey Birdette goes out of its way to link “Santa Claus” with sex using slogans such as “Santa baby…” and “Santa’s toy shop.” Read more here.
Myer failed to respond to a petition calling on them to withdraw sexually objectifying in store advertising for Viktor and Rolf perfume. Myer also defended using sexualised images to advertise lingerie throughout Westfield, including in the food court beside Mcdonalds. Read more.
American Apparel continually depicts women and girls in pornified ways. This year the UK Ad Watchdog upheld complaints regarding an American Apparel ad ruled they sexualized schoolgirls. Read more here.
Retailers funding Playboy branded sexual exploitation
Collective Shout has continued to highlight companies which profit from the mainstreaming, normalising and embedding of a major brand of the sex industry into mainstream culture.
Hooters restaurant promotes the sexual objectification of female staff, sexism and sexual harassment. This doesn’t stop the venue from openly marketing to children, hosting children’s parties and ‘kids eat free’ style promotions. (Thanks to a successful protest led by Collective Shouts Townsville coordinator, construction of a ‘Hooters’ restaurant in the area has been abandoned). Read more.
Despite a protest including a 29,000 strong petition calling on Eatons Hill Hotel to refuse to host rapper Tyler the Creator whose lyrics glorify violence against women, the hotel failed to act in the best interests of the community. (Due to our campaign,Tyler the Creator was refused entry to New Zealand).
Please let these companies know why you won’t be supporting them this Christmas.
Are you crossing off other companies this Christmas? Let us know!
You’re about to be bombarded. Bombarded with junk mail, TV, radio and outdoor advertising all competing for your Christmas dollar. Before you purchase gifts for your friends and loved ones, lets remember those brands that have excelled in sexploitation this year, the brands and companies that do not deserve your hard earned money. Cross ’em off your Xmas list! For our third year running (see lists from 2010 and 2011) we are making it easier for you to make ethical decisions rejecting of companies which have not demonstrated corporate social responsibility.
As a first this year, we’ve added a positive alternative: Toward the Stars, an inspiring on-line global marketplace for products for girls. And we’re hoping to be able to add our first major corporate to sign on to our Corporate Social Responsibility Pledge. (Watch this space!) Here’s our list for 2012.
The popular youth surf store continues to push pornified products to young people. City Beach sells what we’ve called ‘porn t-shirts’ -clothing with pornified images of naked and semi naked women.
The range extends to thongs, hats and at the start of the year even pencil cases
were available at its ‘back to school’ sale. We’ve held protests outside City Beach stores in Brisbane and Sydney.
We’ve taken City Beach to the Equal Opportunities Commission and yet they refuse to budge. While City Beach insist on pimping porn accessories to the youth market, you insist on taking your Christmas shopping elsewhere.
Jewellery and accessories retailer Diva began selling Playboy branded jewellery
in 2011 to its target market of tween girls. (also read: The Age)
A petition through change.org accumulated over 8000 signatures and Diva withdrew much of its Playboy advertising and stock from the shelves. But dodgy Diva continued to sell their Playboy range from underneath the counter and stock has slowly crept back out on display in stores again over the past year.
When challenged again, Diva defended their Playboy range as marketed to their ‘mature’ customers. No matter their age, girls and women deserve better than being sold the merchandise of the global sex industry – when it comes to your Christmas shopping, drop Diva.
Lynx, men’s deodorant has continued to churn out their trademark sexist ads throughout 2012.
Lynx’s ‘controversial’ promotions – including the “Rules of Rugby” and the ‘Washes Your Balls’ promotion – are the perfect demonstration of how a company can misuse advertising industry self-regulation to its advantage. Create a ‘controversial ad’, wait for the complaints to roll in, cross promote with sexist ‘lads mags’ then cash in the dollars from the increased exposure. Lynx seems to think this manoeuvre will stop us from speaking out – it won’t.
And while you’re boycotting Lynx, you might want to give this brand a miss too…
What? Dove? The brand that brought us the campaign for real beauty? Absolutely! Dove is owned by Unilever, the same company who owns and markets Lynx. But the sexploitative hypocrisy doesn’t just stop there – under the Dove label, Unilever also sell a number of ‘skin whitening’ products, as well as anti-cellulite, breast-firming and breast growth creams. Making money off body dissatisfaction, sexual objectification AND positive body image campaigns? We’re not buying it Unilever.
In February this year, Mossimo ran a competition asking people to upload photographs to their Facebook “peep show” campaign. Images of Australia’s Miss Universe contestant in her underwear were given as examples, with the ‘peep’ which received the most votes winning a digital camera.
Despite the clear references to the sex industry as well as (the crime of) keyhole peeping on women, Mossimo denied any wrongdoing. The Advertising Standards Board saw it differently, upholding complaints about the campaign. Read about the online protest (and how we won a lovely new Canon camera!) against Mossimo here.
We wrote about General Pants explicit, sexist, and degrading advertising campaigns last year. They have a history of sex industry inspired stunts including live pole dance shows in their shop front windows. We have continued to hear from supporters about shop window displays and the images they display inside their change rooms. Give General Pants a miss.
The Buddy Ball
The Buddy Ball is the creation of AFL poster boy Lance “Buddy” Franklin. When Franklin’s not busy flogging over priced footballs to youngsters, he spends his time ‘co-directing’ Nena &Pasadena, a line of overpriced porn-inspired shirts, popular in surf stores such as City Beach.
In the past 12 months Franklin has brought us (caution when opening links) this, this and this. Posing as a role model for young boys, and then selling them the degradation of women to wear across their chests? We’re not buying it.
Despite being aware of Lance Franklin’s clothing line for almost two years, the AFL has refused to enforce their Respect and Responsibility policy and discipline Franklin. The AFL claims to be committed to addressing sexism and violence against women, but their silence and lack of action indicate they are not serious about these issues. Thinking of purchasing tickets, a membership or items from the AFL store? Think again.
Lovable is not so loveable following its ‘Besties’ campaign, which encouraged women to upload ‘selfies’ to its Facebook page. Jen Hawkins and fellow models, posed in their underwear, featured in the promotion. While the terms and conditions stated that participants didn’t need to upload images of themselves in underwear, the promotion sent mixed messages about cyber safety, prompting the Ad Standards Board to ban the promotion on this basis.
Of course, this is not the first time Lovable has objectified women – previous campaigns have also been so sexualised that they’ve been featured in the now defunct ‘FHM’ magazine.
Typo’s ‘back to school’ 2012 promotion pimped a wide range of porn-inspired travel mugs, iPod covers and notebooks to students. After parents complained and media caught on, Typo agreed to remove the ‘Porn is my saviour” and ”Dirty” ranges. While they withdrew these items, other items, including notebooks with sexual themes intended for school, remained in stores.
Typo are owned by the Cotton On group, who are serial offenders for selling porn t-shirts and sexploitative advertising campaigns.
These are companies that appeared on last year’s ‘crossed off’ list last and which have continued to use sexploitation throughout 2012.
A positive alternative – Introducing Toward the Stars
Created by Inês Almeida, Toward the Stars is an online market place and a safe haven from the commercialisation and sexualisation of girlhood, from the toxic gender stereotypes that dominate the marketing, media, and products targeted to children and young adults. A place full of gifts that inspire and enable girls to reach for the stars. Offering a venue that motivates and supports artists, business and craftspeople to innovate and explore new products that have the potential to change the world.
If you’re looking for gift ideas that will inspire and empower girls, check out Toward the Stars.
Now over to you!
Which stores will you be avoiding this year and why? Are there alternatives to the brands we’ve listed above? Please join the discussion in the comments section below and at Collective Shout.
It’s that time of year again. The time of year when companies ramp up their advertising in order to compete for your Christmas dollar. There is nowhere you can go without companies placing their product and logo in your face.
Now is the time to recall which companies used sexploitation to sell and promote their products over this past year. You can make a difference by voting with your dollar against sexploitation this holiday season.
Following the positive response to our inaugural ‘Crossed off’ list of 2010, we have compiled an updated list of corporate offenders, who we have selected for specialising in sexism, objectification and sex industry themes in 2011. These companies do not respect women and they have not responded to complaints nor changed their ways, so they do not deserve your patronage.
Beside each logo you’ll find a link to more information about why we encourage you to boycott this company. And don’t forget to let them know why you won’t be buying from them – we’ve included their contact details as well.
For pimping Playboy porno chic to girls and women. Our Change.org petition – currently over 7000 signatures – was recently hand delivered to Diva stores. Some staff refused to accept it, saying they had been instructed not to. Diva is owned by BB Retail Capital, which also owns Adairs and Bras N Things, where the signature brand of the porn industry gets centre spread in linen and underwear, and where women are told to ‘Be a Bunny.’
Contact Diva: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign the petition here.
Bras n Things
Bras n Things sells and proudly advertises the major brand of the porn industry, Playboy. We’ve written about this here and here. Bras n Things also sexualises girls. For example, the Teacher’s Pet ’dress up’ outfit is advertised with the words ‘This school girl needs to be taught a lesson!’
For sexualised ad campaigns aimed at young girls. Supre advertised using an image of a topless young woman on the back of buses and trams and on their website. A television ad featured a young woman gyrating around her bedroom before falling onto a bed. Supre has a long history of sexploitation with their slogan t-shirts including ‘Santa’s Bitch’, ‘Pussy Power’ and ‘High Beams’ to name a few.
Unilever claimed to care about ‘real’ beauty and the worth of women through its Dove label while using demeaning advertising promoting women as sexual recreation through ‘Lynx.’ Lynx’s most recent offering was banned by the ASB. Unilever once again defended its sexist ads. Unilever owns a variety of different brands, but there is no need to try and remember them all. Just look on the back label of personal care, food and cleaning products for this blue ‘U’ logo. If you see the ‘U’ put the item back and choose another one.
General Pants uses objectification and sex industry themes to sell and promote their products. Large posters of topless women – with only tape covering their breasts – were used to advertise a new fashion line called ‘Sex‘ in shop front windows. Young staff at General Pants were required to wear badges that said ‘I love sex.’ Other promotions have featured topless models and live pole dance shows in their shop front windows. Change rooms at General Pants have featured floor to ceiling ads for prostitution and strip club venues.
City Beach continues to sell pornographic themed t-shirts to a young market. Collective Shout supporter Caitlin Roper challenged City Beach directly through the Equal Opportunities Commission. City Beach were uncooperative and continue to sell items like this.
Other logos for stores, which stock ranges of t-shirts depicting women in porn-themed poses and subjected to eroticised violence are shown below. Sixty high-profile people put their names to an open letter calling for removal of these t-shirts for normalising violence against women and exposing children to sexualised images. Click on each logo for contact details of each store.
Rivers began objectifying women on the front cover of their catalogues. They then used an image of a dead woman on the front cover of their catalogue ’10 Deadly deals’, which attracted complaints and significant media attention. Rivers remains unrepentant.
Contact Rivers by emailing them at email@example.com
In a clear reference to the sex industry Nando’s used a burlesque/stripper model in the ‘Little Hotties’ campaign. Nando’s marketing director Kim Russell described the ad as “sassy not sleazy”. We disagreed. Stop off somewhere else for take away these holidays.
Not the place for your holiday fuel stop, selling extreme porn titles promoting rape, incest and sex with young girls. While BP, Shell/Coles Express and Mobil withdrew these titles after a campaign led by Julie Gale of Kids Free 2B Kids, McDonalds/Fuelzone and Caltex have remained intransigent.
Contact Mcdonalds here (regarding Mcdonalds co-brand with Fuelzone).
Now it’s over to you. Are there any other brands that should be included on this list? Are there alternatives to these brands that others might like to know about? Please share your suggestions below.
Crossed Off in the media
SEX SELLS AND ASB CAN’T STOP IT CAMPAIGNERS WARN
By Madeleine Ross on 15 November
Grassroots campaigners Collective Shout have lashed out at a fistful of brands for sexploitation in advertising and lamented the lateness of the standards watchdog in dealing with demeaning material .
The advocacy group, which encourages individuals to boycott brands which sexualise females in advertising, yesterday released a list of offending brands which included Lynx, Diva and Nandos.
The collective has called on consumers to boycott the brands this Christmas and accused them of using sexism, objectification and sex industry themes to sell products. Read more
Porn identity puts Diva on top of list of shops to drop
November 16, 2011
TWEEN jewellery store Diva tops the list of brands targeted by a campaign calling on shoppers to boycott brands that use sexual exploitation in their marketing.
Lobby group Collective Shout says that as brands step up their advertising in the lead-up to Christmas, consumers should vote with their wallets by avoiding those brands that use ”sexism, objectification and sex industry themes” Read more
Collective Shout reveals list of ‘sexploitative’ brands to boycott this Christmas
An Australian organisation has called on the public to boycott brands this Christmas that it believes sexualise and objectify women and girls.
According to Collective Shout, the companies on its list have been the worst at objectifying and sexualising women and girls through advertising and marketing in 2011. Read more.
Patty Huntington exposes the company’s porn-style approach to women
Patty Huntington over at Frockwriter wrote this blog about American Apparel’s favoured positioning of women in its advertising. Of course American Apparel has a long history of making women’s sexual parts the central focus of its marketing approach. But some of my blog readers may not realise that American Apparel’s porn-style representations of women have been shipped to Australia with its first store opening in Melbourne in 2008. We at Collective Shout are adding American Apparel to our ‘Cross ‘Em off your Xmas list’ campaign. Welcome AA to our (growing) list of sexploitation companies to boycott this Christmas. We hope to bring you just that much closer to bankruptcy.
Apparently even American Apparel’s store mannequins have to spread their legs
While in town for the Adelaide Fashion Festival a fortnight ago, frockwriter couldn’t help notice the front window of the American Apparel boutique on Rundle Street, the city’s busiest shopping strip. The display included one squatting store mannequin who was flashing rather a lot of va-jay-jay. Not literally, as she was wearing a pair of micro utility shorts and of course, most store dummies aren’t that anatomically accurate. But anyone walking past the boutique was confronted by the mannequin’s crotch and it did seem a little in-your-face. Not to mention vulgar.
We were curious if perhaps the artful arrangement of slutty store mannequins might be part of the company’s visual merchandising handbook. A couple of calls to two of American Apparel’s three Australian boutiques bore no fruit. The staff were extremely tight-lipped. All they would tell frockwriter was that everything is managed directly from the American Apparel headquarters in Los Angeles.
But is it all that surprising, really?
This is the very same company that has been responsible for the following genre of advertising imagery:
And after a quick net search, we managed to find several other examples of similarly suggestively-posed American Apparel store dummies.
This one was photographed inside an American Apparel factory in 2008:
And this was photographed in one of American Apparel’s New York stores in the same year:
Here is an almost identical mannequin – let’s call it American Apparel’s “Bend Over and Take It Up The Ass” model – in a Toronto store window display in June this year. With the addition of some faeces, courtesy of the G20 protests.
It’s not the first time that American Apparel and its allegedly notoriously touchy feely founder and ceo Dov Charney have found themselves in the poo.
Charney has been the target of numerous sexual harassment lawsuits – although apparently none of them so far successful – and the company has been targeted by numerous consumer boycotts over its “sexist” advertising.
American Apparel is, moreover, currently being sued by its shareholders and teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
Perhaps sex doesn’t always sell quite as well as they thought.
Conceptuallyand aesthetically slutty
It was interesting to see the twitter debate prompted by Huntington’s use of the term ‘slutty’ in this piece. Some took offense, as though she were applying the term to actual women. She wasn’t. Huntington was referring to the AA’s consistently giving women the slutification treatment.
Huntington provided me this postscript:
This post began as a discussion of American Apparel’s promotional imagery, then segued into a mini debate over slut shaming. I used the term “slutty” twice, referring to American Apparel’s “slutty” ad campaigns and store mannequins – once in a tweet to promote the post and once in the copy.
Some people didn’t like it – one party getting quite worked up over the issue on Twitter on Saturday, urging me to choose an alternative because the word is, she noted, so misogynistic. Others, however, did not seem to have a problem. My original tweet “You’ve seen the slutty ads, now it looks like even american apparel’s shop dummies have to spread ‘em” has been retweeted so far 15 times. When I canvassed opinion specifically about the slut shaming issue on Monday, one reader – a 21 year-old gender studies major [@Alyxg] – noted on Twitter, “I don’t think calling AA’s campaigns slutty shames anyone but AA. Their strategy IS conceptually+aesthetically slutty”.
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