Westfield fails to act on sexploitation

Consumers call on Westfield to exercise corporate social responsibility in National Day of Action. 

It’s been three weeks since Collective Shout supporter Kenneth Thor called on Westfield stores to stop sex shop Honey Birdette from using porn-themed advertising in shopping centres around the country. Almost 60, 000 signatures later Scentre Group, the owners of Australian and New Zealand Westfield centres, have failed to take meaningful action, claiming they have no authority over what advertising their tenants use.

On Friday the 24th of November, Collective Shout put out a call to action, encouraging supporters to phone the Scentre Group and email Westfield AU CEO Peter Allen or the chairperson Brian Schwartz. Dozens of Collective Shout supporters shared their emails on our Facebook page:

“I understand Honey Birdette has been remarkably persistent in displaying pornographic inspired advertising in their shops which is freely seen by customers walking past and also by children…This kind of pornographic inspired advertising impacts the developing and impressionable minds of children walking past. Additionally it encourages male and female customers to believe that women are merely sex objects. This is not acceptable.

Westfield has a duty of care to its customers, who include women, children and men, to not display highly sexualised and sexist advertising that constitutes both sexual harassment and discrimination. The frequent depiction of women as merely sexy playthings for men’s use and entertainment has real life impacts on women and girls. Westfield has an opportunity to be a leader, a champion of gender equality.”

“It’s atrocious and patronising to claim that Westfield and the Scentre group…have no power to pressure Honey Birdette to remove these images. I’m sure a store could not have images that included profanities, or violent imagery in their advertising.”

“Having done the bookkeeping for a shop in Westfield this is a total lie. They can control everything down to the light bulbs they prefer you use, trading hours, refurbishments, etc.”

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Many others reported having their names and phone numbers noted down with the promise of a call back. Yesterday one supporter shared the following response she had received, essentially, that complaints would be passed on to Honey Birdette and retail leases permitted tenants to display any advertising as long as it is in line with the Advertising Standards Board’s codes and standards:

“While we understand your concern with these images, retail leases permit tenants to display any advertising within their tenancy as long as it is in accordance with both national and state laws along with industry standards. This advertising is governed by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) as opposed to the landlord, and the ASB can request the removal of advertising if they determine it is in breach of the standards. 

“In a bid to maintain a shopping environment that caters to the needs of our broad customer base, we send any customer feedback on such images directly through to Honey Birdette’s head office, and encourage customers to lodge their feedback with the ASB to ensure they are informed of such concerns and can take the appropriate action. Complaints can be lodged with the ASB via 
https://adstandards.com.au/lodge-complaint

This is not good enough.

For years, we’ve been highlighting the many major flaws in the current system of ad industry self-regulation. There is no pre-vetting of advertisements, not even for serial offenders like Honey Birdette, who made the Advertising Standards Board list of most complained about ads in 2016. Ads remain in place while complaints are investigated, meaning even ads that breach industry codes and standards may still be used for months. The code is voluntary, with no penalties for non-compliance- and Honey Birdette has a history of blatantly ignoring the ASB’s rulings, stating “No one tells Honey B when to take down her signage.”

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Have you contacted Westfield or the Scentre Group? If you’ve had a response (or no response) let us know in the comments.  

 


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