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: email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
“If underage models continue to appear in these kinds of photoshoots, it is solely because adults have enabled them”
Parents of teen model Hailey Clauson are taken legal action against U.S. fashion label Urban Outfitters, along with photographer Jason Lee Parry, over a t-shirt featuring Hailey sitting “spread eagle” on a motorbike. Hailey was 15 when the shots were taken and according to her parents, permission was not given for use of the images. The Clauson’s are asking for $28 million.
There is no doubt that, as the parents claim, Jason Lee Parry’s photo makes “her crotch area the focal point of the image.” In court documents they say Parry agreed not to release the images after Hailey’s agent complained and that this agreement has been broken.
The agent accused Parry of working with L.A. boutique ‘Blood Is The New Black’ to sell t-shirts featuring the young model’s image. That ‘Blood Is The New Black’ would leap at the opportunity to flog t-shirts with sexualised imagery is no surprise, given its history. Tees featuring images of women naked, bound and gagged here were also brought to you with comps from the same brand, stocked by Roger David.
But Parry claims Hailey’s father was present at the shoot and Okay’d the pics.
Patty Huntington has located other sexualised images of the girl, including another spread-eagled photo taken when she was even younger – 14 – and published in 2009. She asks: “If Clauson’s parents don’t like their daughter posing in sexually suggestive’ positions, then why have they allowed her to do so, over and over again, for two years?”
And why send her to do shoots with a photographer known for his provocative styling? Hailey is underage, she is not able to exercise informed consent. Someone is exercising it on her behalf. Surely the safest course of action would be not to allow such images to be shot in the first place? Once taken, it is too easy to lose control over where they end up, as we see over and over.
Huntington perfectly sums it up:
If underage models continue to appear in these kinds of photoshoots, it is solely because adults have enabled them. The buck stops with them. Not just photographers, stylists and editors but model agents and yes, parents.
Here are some brief comments I made on the issue on Channel 7 Sunrise yesterday.
An “ironic patriotic comment on capitalist recruitment and identity” says Roger David.
In January last year I wrote about how Roger David’s menswear store was expanding from daggy men’s cardies into the violence and abuse t.shirt genre, I wanted to know why the men’s brand thought it acceptable to pimp porn-industry inspired messages about what women were good for.
This sparked a campaign by Collective Shout supporters against Roger David, which has been ongoing. Roger David has never bothered responding.
But now even the Advertising Standards Board thinks Roger David has crossed the line with this promotion for British clothing range “New Love Club”.
As you can see, the ad – which also features on New Love Club’s UK home page – depicts a teenage girl with a bar code on her shoulder which reads “slave”. She can’t speak because her mouth is stuffed with a Union Jack, rendering her gagged. She appears disheveled. The suggestion is that she is for sale. She is a slave at the “New Love Club”. Sexual slavery as new love. Trafficking as fashion chic.
The Board noted that the girl in the image was 18 but considered that she is depicted in a way that makes her appear younger than 18.
The Board considered that the overall impression of the part of the advertising material which depicted the girl was that of a girl presented as a sexual object – due to a combination of factors in particular the age of the girl, the text ‘new love club’ and the tattoo of the word ‘slave’ on her arm.
The Board also considered that the image of the girl could be seen to be suggestive of the girl being held against her will – with the ‘slave’ reference on her arm and the depiction of her with an object filling her mouth which, in the Board’s view, evoked a sense of the girl being ‘gagged’.
Roger David defended the ad as “ironic”. Don’t you just love how “ironic” is used to justify anything? Glamourising violence against women? Ironic. ‘Bitches Get Stitches’ t.shirts? Ironic. Women decapitated and blown up? Ironic. Facebook pages like “Define Statutory”, “I like my women how I like my Scotch: 10 years old and locked in my basement’ and ‘I like my women how I like my eggs: beaten’. All ironic. Perhaps New Love Club thinks its t.shirt bearing the image of a dead mostly naked Asian woman is ironic too.
This is my favourite bit, a work of comic genius by Roger David’s PR:
New Love Club’s main market in the United Kingdom is the student market. New Love Club produced the advertisement as a response to the current politic issues that affect this market, being the financial crisis which has had a direct impact on this market by raising tuition fees, ensuring that many of these young people will be crippled with debt into adult hood, and the conditioning of youth for their future roles in capitalism. New Love Club produced the image of the woman as a comment on youth and the national debt that now rests on their shoulders and as an ironic patriotic comment on capitalist recruitment and identity. Roger David believes that these same issues are relevant for young people in Australia, hence the use by Roger David of this image in its Australian marketing for the New Love Club brand of clothing.
The relevant audience for this advertisement is young men. Roger David strongly believes that young men would relate to this image, and would not see it as shocking or exploitative.
Do they even know how to spell capitalist recruitment?
I posted this comment on Mumbrella which reported the story yesterday
Melinda Tankard Reist – 17 Aug 11 – 1:21 pm
A young guy sees the “New Love Club” t.shirt with a young woman depicted as a sexual slave and thinks: “I really relate to that! I’ll wear it as an ironic patriotic comment on capitalist recruitment and identity.” Roger David must think we are all idiots. Collective Shout has been boycotting Roger David for some time now because of it flogging t.shirts for men depicting women naked, bound and gagged. We have no plans to stop.
I love Melanie’s comment:
Melanie -17 Aug 11 – 9:05 pm
The guys that wear the sexist, porno clothing churned out by Roger David wouldn’t even know how to spell ‘capitalist recruitment’ let alone ‘relate’ to it. I’d like to be a fly on the wall when these design ideas are thrown around ‘Hey Barry, we need another justification for this gagged chick on a shirt….Capitalism?…really?..can you spell that for me?…thanks…what does it mean?…actually don’t worry, i couldn’t be arsed learning a new thing.’
Belinda’s comment is also perfectly expressed:
Belinda – 17 Aug 11 – 1:30 pm
“young men would relate to this image, and would not see it as shocking or exploitative”. That’s the worst part: that our porn- and raunch-fuelled culture has created a cohort of people who find such an image acceptable. They see a gagged girl and think ‘meh’
Fortunately the Advertising Standards Board didn’t think ‘meh’. Nor do we. If you haven’t already joined our Roger David boycott, please do.
Record response from company following a few hours of twitter action
This is the story about the fastest response from a company I have ever seen.
It is also testament to the power of new forms of social media.
I was at my desk, (which sounds better than saying ‘I was in bed reading Facebook updates on my phone’), when I saw a FB message sent Saturday from my fellow advocate for girls, Dannielle Miller. It was about a Harvey Norman ad she’d heard on Sydney radio station Nova:
So I thought I’d send a few tweets about it while working yesterday afternoon. While I had hoped the tweets would make their way to the company at some stage, I hadn’t realised Harvey Norman was also @HarveyNorman – on twitter.
My twitter followers got fired up. One was about to buy a TV from Harvey Norman. Not anymore. @Cbngal tweeted this:
Then this lobbed into to my twitter feed:
I realised Harvey was also hanging around the twitterverse on a Sunday afternoon. And reading my tweets, including a re-working of the ‘Go Harvey Norman’ theme (suggesting where they could go, which probably wasn’t very nice).
Journalist Sandra Lee @Fittoprint tweeted ‘the smell of victory’. I hoped she was right but didn’t want to expect too much.
Gary Wheelhouse, head of social media for Harvey Norman, then emailed me:
So I tweeted on his prompt reply. And expected to hear back on Monday.
Forty-five minutes later I received this:
Lyndal Gabriel heads up Harvey Norman’s radio and TV advertising.
Ms Gabriel informed me that the ad had just started running on the weekend, only on NOVA, and was pulled at 8pm. She emailed this comment this morning:
As a Retailer we do not wish to offend anybody, and as such when Gary picked up the comments on Social Media, we immediately acted and pulled the ad.
So all in all a mere four hours of action for the ultimate result.
While of course you have to ask who it was at Harvey Norman that thought this ad appropriate to run at all, I think it is important to commend corporations who recognise they stuffed up and act promptly to make amends.
The only other time I have seen a comparatively quick response was when Best & Less acted speedily to withdraw a padded push-up bra – for tweenagers – after I blogged about it in February. (In contrast, some retailers - like Roger David - don’t bother responding at all).
I really hope this account gives encouragement to other activists and would-be activists, that we really can make a difference. Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation has achieved some significant wins in its first year. Get on board, shout out against sexploitation in all its forms.
Antoinette Jones – Principal – Mitcham Girls High School
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