Bonds ad cleared despite sexism complaints

By By Amy Kellow | 28 September 2012

The ad watchdog has dismissed a case against underwear brand Bonds, despite complaints its 'Shop Your Shape' campaign "sexually objectified" women.

The television spot showed various groups of male and female models dancing and wearing differing styles of underwear. It was part of Bonds' broader 'Shop Your Shape' campaign which also encompassed print, digital and out-of-home.

One consumer said: "I am upset that women are again being sexually objectified for an underwear commercial. It's unnecessary to have these women dancing provocatively with some shots in slow motion with close ups of the groin areas. I find these ads offensive in nature, nakedness and the message it is sending to young women and men about women's bodies and worth in society."

"I'd like to see the new ads for Bonds taken off the air and replaced with something that is empowering to young women instead of sexually objectifying," the complaintant said.

"I feel like I'm watching a burlesque review every time it comes on."

Bonds refuted the claims, telling the watchdog: "We challenge that this is sexually objectifying or offensive given it is in an appropriate context – we are selling underwear and that the creative context is lighthearted and playful."

The Advertising Standards Bureau noted both parties' arguments and eventually dismissed the complaints on the grounds it wasn't a breach of Section 2.2 or 2.4 of the Code of Ethics.

It said: "The women and men are presented in a manner which is clearly intended to show the underwear they are promoting and that they appear happy and confident.

Referencing the consumer's objection to the "close-up shots of groin areas", the watchdog argued this was to be expected given it was an ad for underwear.

"All the models in the advertisment are wearing underwear in a manner which does not expose any of their private areas," it claimed. "It did not contain any inappropriate nudity."

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