Ad Standards gives green light to more sexualised ads

And ignores the global research in the process

The latest case reports from the ad industry's self regulatory body, Ad Standards, have been published and for the third month in a row Honey Birdette's porn themed ads have been given the green light for display in family friendly shopping centres. 

The case report states:

"This poster image features the caption "Cage Bust out!" Image features a woman sitting on a chair with her legs apart leaning forward, and another woman leaning on the back of the chair behind her. Both women are wearing black strappy lingerie."

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A sample of comments which the complainant/s made regarding this advertisement included the following:

"The ads were on display in high traffic areas of the malls. In one centre, the ads formed the backdrop for a children’s Santa parade. The ads are highly sexualised and indistinguishable from an ad for the sex industry (eg strip venue) and unsuitable for display in general public space, let alone places where children are specifically invited to participate in activities. Moreover, people are working in these spaces- people who have a right to work without being exposed to sexualised imagery. The space does not belong to the advertiser and the advertiser has no right to impose its porn-themed ads onto an all-age, non-consenting audience who are not its customers."

The Ad Standards Community Panel noted the complainants’ concerns that the advertisement:

  • are highly sexualised
  • resembles images that would be seen in porn publications
  • is inappropriate to be seen in full view of children

The Panel considered that the woman on the left was bending over the chair and pushing her bottom out and that this was a sexualised pose. The Panel considered that the other woman was seated with her legs open and that this could also be considered a sexualised pose. The Panel determined that the advertisement did contain sexuality.

The Panel noted that the lingerie worn in the advertisement is available for purchase at Honey Birdette, however considered that products must still be advertised in a manner that is suitable for advertising on the front window of a store that is located in a shopping centre. The Panel determined that the advertisement did contain nudity.

The Panel considered that most members of the community would not find the level of nudity or sexuality in the advertisement confronting or inappropriate for a broad audience which would include children.

However the Ad Standards Community Panel fail to recognise the global research on sexually objectifying portrayals of women in advertising. This meta-analysis from 1995-2015 describes the harms:

The findings provided consistent evidence that both laboratory exposure and regular, everyday exposure to this content are directly associated with a range of consequences, including higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater self-objectification, greater support of sexist beliefs and of adversarial sexual beliefs, and greater tolerance of sexual violence toward women. Moreover, experimental exposure to this content leads both women and men to have a diminished view of women’s competence, morality, and humanity.

It is clear that the current model of self regulation within the Advertising Industry is grossly inadequate. Collective Shout will continue to campaign for change and advocate for a world free of sexploitation. 

Read the full case report here.

Screen_Shot_2019-12-18_at_9.35.17_am.pngNow we have a new range on posters on display in shopping centres. All in full view of children whilst they accompany their parents to do the Christmas shopping. But any complaints about these will likely not be looked at until it is too late. Another failure of our advertising system. 

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Ad Standards has not upheld any complaints against Honey Birdette since July 2019. 


See also:

25 Reasons Why Ad Industry Self-Regulation is a Disaster

Submission to AANA Code of Ethics Review


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