The ad watchdog has dismissed a case against apparel brand Bonds after several complaints it had objectified young women, with one person arguing the ad was a "pervert's delight and totally inappropriate".
The campaign which featured 19-year-old ambassador and local actress Isabelle Cornish showed her skipping outside in a singlet and briefs. The colour of the underpants changed every time she skipped, aiming to demonstrate its new 'Collectables' range. It ended with a close-up shot of her bottom.
The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) received multiple complaints about the ad relating to various codes including the objectification and exploitation of children and women. Many believed Cornish was aged between 12 - 14 years old.
One said: "Our children need to be protected not exploited. Bonds should be ashamed of themselves for potentially contributing to the ever growing [sic] violence towards children."
"I'm not against advertising women's underwear, but what angers me is why is it appropriate to depict the image of a young girl partaking in a common activity played by girls as young as kindy in order to sell underwear," another said. "Who are you selling the underwear to? It's obviously not second graders! [...] This sort of advertising is irresponsible, backward and dangerous."
Another added: "As parents of young children, both my husband and I found this ad disturbing. I was due to buy my children some Bonds items for winter but will now be boycotting this brand."
One even went as far to say the ad was a "pervert's delight and totally inappropriate".
Bonds didn't agree with the allegations made, issuing the following response: "The underwear is not sexual, the tone of the commercial is innocent, fun and playful and the leading role is played by Isabelle, aged 19 years of age [...]".
"The underwear itself is very modest and the target audience for these is girls is that of Isabelle's age bracket so certainly the product range is not intended for younger girls. Whilst Bonds does cater for children, this is a different category. It was never our intention to produce a commercial which was provocative and sexual in any way and we trust upon receiving the script, commercial, CAD rating and our response, you will agree."
And the watchdog did indeed. It ruled that the ad presented a "youthful, fun and energetic depiction of a young women" and that there was "no use of sexual appeal in the advertisement and that the advertisement was not exploitative or degrading of any people." It also ruled that wearing a singlet and underpants in advertising "did not amount to nudity" and dismissed the case.
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