Youth retailer connected to LEGO slammed for porn-inspired ad
Summer means women's pornified bums, boobs and crotches. Or, at least that seems to be what popular and influential youth retailer General Pants wants us to think. Its latest bikini-spruiking ad campaign - a video titled 'Welcome to Summer' - is a montage of shorts portraying women's sexualised bodies and body parts.
It's a 30-second pictorial onslaught of narrow, sexualised beauty and body standards. Its overarching message to women and girls: you must be young, hot, thin, naked, and ready to service male sexual fantasy.
Objectification 101: General Pants' latest ad campaign reduces women to sexualised body parts
'Creepshots' and voyeurism as marketing tools
Bum closeups feature prominently in the video, as do porn-style, spread-legged up-crotch shots captured from both front and rear. Parts of the montage resemble 'candids' or 'creepshots': covert photos and videos of women and girls which often focus on breasts or buttocks, captured and distributed without their knowledge or consent. 'Welcome to Summer' serves as an open invite to, and endorsement of voyeuristic activities which, in the real world, harm women and girls. (Last year, we called out Honey Birdette for a series of similarly styled 'upskirting' ads. We pointed out that upskirting is a crime, and employing it in advertising only serves to normalise, sanitise and trivialise it.)
One standout segment depicts a women in a white bikini top, reclining, and throwing her head back in a sexualised fashion. At one point, the camera angle has the effect of reducing the woman to a headless pair of breasts.
Documented harms to women + girls
General Pants has no excuse for its objectifying, women-exist-for-men's-voyeuristic-sexual-gratification advertisement. The harms of objectification and sexualisation are well documented and widely acknowledged:
- The objectification of women in media and advertising is linked to a range of harmful attitudes toward them, including acceptance of rape myths and the viewing of women as less than human.
- The objectification of women in media and advertising puts pressure on girls and women to conform to stereotypical sexualised beauty ideals. According to RANZCP exposure to sexualising messages contributes to girls defining their self-worth in terms of sexual attractiveness, and the “excessive focus on appearance and narrow definition of attractiveness” contributes to the development of abnormal eating patterns and lack of positive body image.
- Children's exposure to adult sexual images and values has a negative impact on the psychological development of children, in terms of self-esteem, body image and understanding of sexuality and relationships.
- A study on the impacts of sexist advertising on women showed they felt less comfortable and less safe in venues where sexualised advertisements were displayed. Sexually objectifying ads, like General Pants' latest, lend to creating hostile environments in which women feel unsafe and unwelcome.
Bad for business too
Sexual objectification harms women and children, and it's also bad for business. Contrary to the antiquated claim that 'sex sells', research shows that ads containing sexualised images and messaging either hurt business, or have no effect at all.
Showing now in your local (Male Champion-led) family mall
The ad is currently running on a loop on oversized, shop window digital screens in 'family friendly' shopping centres across the country. This video was captured at UniSuper-owned Karrinyup Centre in Perth during recent school holidays:
How is that - a floor-to-ceiling running montage of women's disembodied, hyperzoomed breasts, buttocks and crotches - appropriate children's viewing, on school holidays or any other day?
It's hard to believe, but the male CEOs of the shopping centres hosting these ads are named gender equality champions. These men pledge to stamp out sexism in the workplace and wider community! By housing objectifying and pornified portrayals of women in their malls for viewing by all-ages audiences which include children, they are actually helping reinforce sexist attitudes, facilitating sexual harassment and grooming children.
General Pants - A repeat corporate offender
This is not General Pants' first women-equal-sex-objects rodeo. The brand has a long history of objectifying women in its marketing and advertising. It also placed its young female staff at serious risk of sexual harassment by making sexualised slogans part of the uniform. Read about our past campaigns against the youth retailer here.
(L) Underage staff were instructed to wear 'I LOVE SEX' badges on the job: (R) General Pants shop window ad
New owner tied to popular kids' brands
General Pants' objectifying ad tactics are not new, but its owner is. Earlier this year, General Pants was acquired by retail investment firm Alquemie Group. The firm owns a suite of well-known brands, some with particular appeal to families and children: National Geographic, LEGO Certified Stores and Pumpkin Patch, for example. Why is a company which relies heavily on its appeal to kids (and their mums, dads, grandparents, carers, teachers...) also using pornified and objectifying representations of women to flog merch?
Pumpkin Patch and LEGO: Alquemie Group brands
It's high time General Pants abandoned its sexist and sexually objectifying marketing practices. We think Alquemie Group's business depends on it.
Tell Alquemie Group what you think of its oversized, objectifying 'Welcome to Summer' ad:
Leave a comment or review for General Pants on
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/generalpantsco
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/general_pants/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/GeneralPants_
Lodge a complaint with Ad Standards here.
Update: Ad Standards dismisses complaints against General Pants’ porn inspired ad
Ad Standards has given the thumbs-up to General Pants Co.’s porn inspired ‘Welcome to Summer’ ad.
In its Case Report responding to community complaints about the ad, the self-regulated body went to great lengths to defend the ad. It stated:
- the women are depicted suntanning and relaxing in their swimwear
- there are close-up scenes of the women’s bodies however this was used to show the different features of the swimwear (material, patterns)
- the depiction of the women was relevant to the promotion of swimwear
- the women were posed in a manner to show off the product
- the bright colours added a playful feel to the advertisement rather than a sexual tone (*CS note: Yes, they really said this.)
Was Ad Standards even looking at the right Ad? If so, are we really expected to believe General Pants’ oversized, hyper-zoomed depictions of women’s pornified and objectified bums, breasts and crotches are suitable for public display because the women appeared to be “suntanning”? That the harms of objectification are magically neutralised through the use of "bright colours"?
Ad Standards is supposed to protect community members from harmful advertising. Yet again, it has proved it is not fit for the task.
Read the full Case Report here.