After years of Collective Shout campaigning, the Advertising Standards Board has announced long awaited changes to the AANA Code of Ethics regarding the use of sexual appeal in advertising.
Figure 1: An example of sexually exploitative advertising permitted in public spaces under the current system.
Previously, under section 2.2 of the code, advertisements were in breach if they were found to be both exploitative and degrading. An advertisement deemed simply exploitative was not in breach. From March, updates to the code mean the use of sexual appeal in advertising cannot be exploitative or degrading.
Collective Shout welcomes this revision of the code. While this is a positive step, there is much more still to be done in order to effectively regulate sexist and sexually objectifying advertising.
While the ASB claims most companies comply with advertising codes and rulings, we’ve spent years documenting and exposing serial offenders such as Honey Birdette, UltraTune and Wicked Campers - companies who continually exploit the weaknesses in the current system of self-regulation to promote their products and services. There is still a long way to go, and we’re not backing down any time soon.
Honey Birdette sexploitation highlights Ad Standards Board incompetence.
The Advertising Standards Board has upheld complaints against Honey Birdette’s sexist ‘Office Party’ advertisements, featuring fully clothed men in suits alongside lingerie clad women. However, this ruling accomplishes very little, given Honey Birdette replaced this ad over a month ago with their “Sorry Kids, we gave Santa the night off” ads depicting Santa spanking a model.
This latest development only serves to highlight the Advertising Standards Board’s ongoing failure to adequately regulate sexist advertising, and the willingness of stores like Honey Birdette to exploit an ineffective system of advertising regulation.
In response to this issue, Collective Shout supporter and petition starter Kenneth Thor has taken the fight against Honey Birdette sexploitation and the ASB’s inability to address it to members of parliament. In a letter to Victoria MP Rachel Carling Jenkins, Kenneth has highlighted the many failings of the Advertising Standards Board:
Pic credit MTR/Caters Media
I write to ask for your support in putting an end to porn-style advertising being allowed in family friendly shopping centres and amending the current legislation (or lack of) around Advertising Standards.
Serial offenders like Honey Birdette exploit broken advertising system
The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has upheld no less than 9 out of 21 complaint case reports against Honey Birdette over the years. Honey Birdette have been ordered to take down highly sexualised and offensive posters from their shop windows, but they replace them with something just as bad or worse.
In this current system, as long as the advertiser takes down the ad eventually (in their own good time), it is registered by the ASB as a compliance. It does not matter if the replacement advertising is as bad or worse, it is considered a separate ad and requires a new set of complaints to be lodged. For example, in the last 5 months, they have been ordered to replace 4 ads!
Each case report consists of multiple complaints and requires the arduous effort of lodging complaints, waiting, sending in photo evidence, waiting up to 3 months, while the damage is already done. The worst thing is, there is nothing stopping the advertiser from breaching the code again. They can go through this process every day for the next ten years and the ASB will still register them as compliant, and the ASB can still boast about how effective self-regulation is with a 100% compliance rate. It is the biggest joke.
Honey Birdette has been ordered to remove objectifying ads in a recent ASB ruling:
Overall, in the ASB's view, the advertisement did breach Section 2.4 of the Code which states that "Advertising or Marketing Communications shall treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience. Finding that Honey Birdette's advertisement did breach this section of the code, the ABS upheld the complaints that it received.
In another related win, The Adelaide Advertiser has reported that Rundle Mall Myer Centre manager Peter Lee has told Honey Birdette that their shopping centre will not allow these ads. Mr Lee has said:
“We have been liaising with the retailer’s national office in this regard and have requested the current posters be removed from display as soon as possible”
“They'd never be able to use those images in prime time to advertise, so why do I have to subject my young son to that imagery when all I wanted was to go get him some new shoes for preschool?”
For the month of July, the most highly reported offender was Honey Birdette, with eight separate complaints received. We had many parents reach out to us outlining how their children were confused and shocked by the new larger than life semi-nude posters that cover the store frontage. We have long reported on issues with Honey Birdette - including the sexploitation of their own staff. Their latest extremely racy and highly inappropriate advertisements at shopping centres throughout Australia have caused a huge stir and outrage among the general publicRead more
There are some things in life that are certain – Boxing Day sales, stocktake sales, and now, shockingly sexist Ultra Tune ads.
True to form, three free-to-air Ultra Tune advertisements have made the ASB’s 2017 most-complained-about ad list so far. Ultra Tune ads top the list with 357 complaints.Read more
Advertising Executives Survey
One of the strategic goals of Collective Shout is to improve advertising standards with regards to sexual objectification of girls and women. We would be most appreciative if you could answer the following questions on advertising regulation. Your answers are strictly anonymous. Your anonymous responses will be used for research and educational purposes. Thank you for your support.
Sexpo is coming to Brisbane in August and they are bringing their ads for a live sex webcam site to our public transport! Sign the new petition calling on Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to take urgent action!Read more
St Andrew’s Cathedral School, a co-ed school with over 1000 students, is fighting an allegedly illegal brothel that is operating a mere 60 meters from the entrance of the school premises. The Star Massage parlour in Sussex Street offers a range of erotic services, but it is the services involving girls who imitate schoolgirls that are causing significant uproar.
Content Warning: Some content including in this post may be distressing, but it is content the ASB is promoting to your children.
If an adult gave your child a Hustler magazine, what would you do? Perhaps contacting the police might be an appropriate response.
But what if the adult was the Advertising Standards Board, and the pornographic magazine was the address for a hardcore porn website, complete with prostitution services featuring young women engaging in live sex shows, including being penetrated with objects?Read more
Several weeks ago, I made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Board about an ad on the side of a bus featuring the website for a hardcore porn site. After waiting a few weeks for their response, during which time the ad remained in place, the ASB advised me they had already dismissed complaints for this particular advertisement. They found the image was not in breach of the code. I immediately wrote back and asked if they could re-open the discussion given the content of my complaint had not mentioned the image, but the promotion of a porn site.Read more