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.
In this guest post, Melinda Tankard Reist calls on advertisers to stop sexualising kids and objectifying women
The ad industry has the nasty habit of using self-regulation to its commercial advantage, exploiting women’s bodies in the process. Corporate social responsibility is sacrificed on an altar of sexism.
Inadequacies in the system include a weak code of ethics, no pre-vetting of ads, the Ad Standards Bureau’s powerlessness to order the removal of ads, inadequate monitoring and no meaningful penalties.
Many people don’t know how to make a complaint. Self regulation means the industry gets to do what it wants – and pretty much get away with it.
The colonisation of public space with objectified and sexualised images of women and girls continues unabated. Porn inspired representations of women in the public space have become the norm.
And while sexualised representations of women and girls displayed in a workplace constitute sexual harassment under anti-discrimination law, the open display of similar images of women in the public domain – including in shops, which are also workplaces (e.g. General Pants) – is exempt from these laws.
But wouldn’t it be good if companies chose to act ethically in the first place, rather than being forced to do the right thing by us?
And ASB rulings are inconsistent, with one ad ruled out of bounds following complaints, while complaints against a similar ad by another company are dismissed.
Collective Shout is about to release its line-up of corporate offenders for our annual ‘Cross ‘em off your Xmas list’ campaign. We are calling on consumers not to pay for sexploitation this Xmas – an updated list in the lead up to Xmas will be posted here.
There are plenty to choose from…
Diva for pimping Playboy porno chic bling to its target customer base of girls aged eight-13. Described by Corporate Failings as “Perhaps the most blatant example of consumer disregard we’ve come across”. Our Change.org petition – now approaching 7,000 signatures – was delivered in Diva stores this week. 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’.
Supre for sexualised campaigns aimed at tween/teen girls. From t-shirts advertising sexual availability to topless young models on buses, Supre has a long history.
Nando’s Mumbrella readers may recall the Nandos pole dancing mother. More recently was the burlesque/stripper model in the ‘Little Hotties’ campaign, which Nando’s marketing director Kim Russell described as “sassy not sleazy”.
Unilever for claiming to care about ‘real’ beauty and the worth of women through its Dove label while using demeaning advertising promoting women as sexual recreation – (e.g Lynx Lodge).
McDonalds/Fuelzone, Caltex – 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.
I’d advise you not to drop in at 7-Eleven for Xmas snacks for the same reason.
City Beach, General Pants, Rivers, Cotton On, Factorie, Roger David, live, Surfstitch, Universal, Glue Store, New Generation for a range of t-shirts depicting women in porn-themed poses and subjected to eroticised violence. Sixty high-profile people put their names to an open letter calling for removal of these t-shirts for normalising violence against women and involuntarily exposing children to sexualised images.
The proliferation and globalisation of sexual imagery in mainstream culture cannot continue to be given free rein. Public accountability and social responsibility – not profit margins – should be the guiding principles.
I write with regards to the current Rivers advertising campaign that features a representation of a dead woman lying under a couch, with the title ’10 Deadly Deals’.
No To Violence Male Family Violence Prevention Association is appalled that any organisation, company or individual would seek to promote any product or service by using imagery that celebrates violence and abuse towards women. This campaign plainly seeks to trivialise an issue that affects one in three women around the world, including Australia, and celebrates the behaviour of men who use violence towards women and family members.
No To Violence, incorporating the Men’s Referral Service, and its members, including Victoria’s 39 Men’s Behaviour Change Programs, works directly with men who use violence towards women and seeks to affect real cultural change in the ways that women are objectified, abused and violated on a regular basis. Our aim is to eliminate violence against women and hold men – and others – to account regarding this insidious and despicable behaviour.
On average, around 70 women die at the hands of current or former male partners in Australia. Consider, then, that more than one woman per week is killed this way in our country. Rivers, by virtue of this current advertising campaign, makes light of this issue and trades on it.
This campaign would also be traumatic for women who have experienced violence and others who have been touched by family violence and violence against women. And, of course, this type of campaign is entirely unnecessary.
While our members are being advised to boycott Rivers at this time, I encourage you to remove this campaign immediately and consider the personal negative implications of future campaigns.
The Age has covered our protest against Rivers for appropriating the image of a dead woman in fishnet stockings and stilettos on the front of a catalogue headed “10 deadly deals” as described on the Collective Shout website and here below. I was amused to see River’s spokesman describe our interpretation of the catalogue cover as “weird and draconian”. So if we weren’t meant to interpret the woman as being dead - murdered even - why the heading “10 deadly deals”? Is she merely under the couch searching for her missing purse? The damn remote? Or playing hide-and-seek badly? If she tripped and fell wouldn’t the heading be ’10 clumsy deals’? If we’ve got it so wrong, why doesn’t Rivers tell us what they meant to convey with the image and wording?
Here’s Michelle Griffin’s piece which also mentions some of our other actions against eroticised violence against women in advertising. We can’t be blasé about this trivialisation of violence against women.
Rivers ad campaign ‘a deadly deal for women’
DEAD women are the new black in marketing, says feminist campaign group Collective Shout, which is calling for a boycott of the Rivers Australia clothing chain because the cover image of its latest “Deadly Deals” catalogue features a leggy corpse in fishnets and high heels sprawled under a couch.
“Rivers has been excelling in the objectification of women for some time now,” says the group’s founder, Melinda Tankard Reist, “but this ramps it up a notch — using a dead woman for the purposes of selling clothing.”
Violence against women is a common marketing tactic in videos such as Kanye West’s Monster, says Ms Reist, but she finds the Rivers catalogue particularly disturbing “because it’s so mainstream. They’re a mass-market, run-of-the-mill clothing company eroticising violence against women.”
Rivers’ head office in Ballarat has defended the catalogue cover image as “for more tame art work compared to many examples in the industry”. While the company declined to be interviewed, in an email to The Age it accused the Collective Shout website of “weird and draconian interpretations of our catalogue covers”.
Lessons in feminist activism, from someone who has been on both sides
A thoughtful blog post by Australian feminist blogger Rachel Hills – also quoted in The Age piece above – about her own journey – from publishing an image of a headless woman in a student magazine in her 20s to acknowledging what such images represent and how we have become habituated to depictions of sexualised violence – how they are so ingrained in the culture as to become almost banal. And why we can’t let that remain the status quo.
[These images] might seem innocuous because they’re so ingrained in our collective cultural memory, but by repeating them, we only normalise them further…
I bring this story up because yesterday I was asked to comment on a new campaign by Melinda Tankard Reist and Collective Shout in response the latest catalogue for “wholesome” clothing retailer, Rivers. The catalogue features a woman’s legs, in heels and suspenders, sticking out under a sofa with the accompanying text, “deadly deals”. Tankard Reist says image is “eroticising violence against women”, and says it fits into a broader trend of using erotic/violent imagery to attract attention (think Kanye’s ‘Monster’ video)…
Rivers using glamourised violence against women to flog clothes and shoes
This image is from the latest Rivers catalogue advertising “10 deadly deals”.
The woman, in fishnet stockings and stiletto heels, is situated under a couch with only her stockinged legs in view. Rivers is the latest company to promote the idea that dead women are sexy. Nothing like a female corpse to sell some product, right Rivers?
In an apparent attempt to make cardigans (like this one right) seem risqué and edgy, Rivers engages the concept of dead women as the new black. Rivers products have been questioned for their lack of quality but the company’s ethics must be questioned as well. As Collective Shout documents, this is not the first time members have taken Rivers to the Advertising Standards Board.
As a former employee of Rivers who was once very proud to say that I had worked for such an upstanding and down to earth Aussie company as Rivers, I find myself disappointed and at times disgusted by the turn Rivers has taken with its advertising. The advertising once was witty and carefree. Unique and amusing. Now it is often repulsive and shocking. Please tell me who was behind the thinking that dead women in thigh-high fishnets and stillettos is going to be a good way of selling clothing & footwear. I know there are many family men amongst the decision makers there at Rivers (at least there used to be). Tell me how you would feel if your daughter was seeing a man who thought that the image of a sexed up woman dead under a couch was appealing? Why try to perpetuate this hideous ideal that a victimised woman is sexy. Why not promote the ideal of strong, smart, powerful women, as I’m sure many of the women in your target market (not to mention your employees and families) are.
Turn it around, Rivers. Make me proud again.
Alice from River’s responded that the cover was “not intended to cause offence” and wished my colleague Melinda Liszewski a “great day”.
Alice, we could possibly have a “great day” if your company wasn’t trivializing violence against women. A scourge on the planet, violence against women is not funny, amusing or fodder for advertising. What Rivers is doing is a deadly deal for women.
Antoinette Jones – Principal – Mitcham Girls High School
“Intelligent, passionate, brilliant, fearless… I could not recommend her more highly”
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
“You continue to reset my shock meter…”
“As a teacher and parent I recommend all parents, in fact all people, to attend a talk by Melinda- it will open your eyes and awaken your subconscious.”
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“Melinda’s presentations to our parents, staff and full day workshops to students was inspirational, transforming the attitudes and thinking of all involved”
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“Melinda Tankard Reist’s presentation to Middle and Upper School students at Pymble Ladies’ College was absolutely brilliant!”
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“Melinda Tankard Reist has had a transformational affect on our school.”
Ms Stephanie McConnell, Principal – Turramurra High School
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