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:
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.
We love to see our supporters engaging in our campaigns and challenging those who profit from the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Over the past few weeks of our campaign against Honey Birdette, we’ve seen some great actions taken by supporters. Here are some of our favourites:
As seen in Westfield shopping centres around the country:
It’s that time of year again. Every year in the lead up to Christmas, we release our annual blacklist of corporate offenders who have objectified women and sexualised girls throughout the year.
You can send a message about the importance of corporate social responsibility by ‘voting with your wallet’ and making ethical purchasing choices. Give these stores a miss this holiday season.
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” –Anna Lapse
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Read Part one here
These hyper-sexualised advertising posters more appropriate in the storefront of an R rated sex shop are in plain view of children within a family shopping centre. They are designed to be sexually stimulating, but my kids and I did not go to the shops to get sexually stimulated!
After my visit to Westfield that left my 4-year-old and 6-year-old children in shock at Honey Birdette’s larger than life sexualised posters, I politely wrote to Westfield Fountain Gate on their Facebook. They eventually asked for my phone number so that their Retail Manager could have a chat with me.
The Westfield Fountain Gate retail manager made great pains to tell me that there were many other more important things to be passionate about like junk food advertising to kids, rather than “showing a bit of boob”.
In the meantime, I found out that the place to make official complaints about advertising is to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB). By that time (a week later), I found it challenging to describe the offending poster, so I drove all the way back to Westfield Fountain Gate and took photos of the posters that my kids saw. However, you cannot upload pictures to the ASB, so had to find some descriptive words to describe what my kids saw.
Last week, B&T reported on the latest campaign by Honey Birdette titled “Office Party” that appeared to play on the Christmas tradition of a drunken office work bash. This time, however, with models gadding about in only their expensive lingerie.
The campaign came with a racy stills campaign and social media TVC. You can see it if you go to the link in the full article at bandt.com.au
However, since the launch of the campaign the company has been defending itself against claims it is offensive and wrong to portray women in their undergarments at an office party.