'Ghetto booty' acceptable in advertising, says watchdog

By By Amy Kellow | 14 January 2013
The ad watchdog has dismissed a case against Westfield despite a complaint one of its commercials told women to hide their "ghetto booty" and vilified African-American females.

The ad watchdog has dismissed a case against a Westfield ad despite a complaint that its use of the term "ghetto booty" was racist towards African-American females.

The online video, featuring Westfield stylist Ken Thompson, dispelled fashion tips for women wishing to conceal their behinds and referred to their bottoms as "ghetto booties".

The complainant told the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) : "It seems that this ad suggests that a white woman with a large bottom is 'ghetto' - that she resembles a black woman - and that she must hide her bottom to avoid shame. It seems to me that this video has racist connotations/undertones and that this is unacceptable."

Westfield hit back, arguing its use of the term "ghetto booty" did not vilify African-American woman nor was it racist.

"'Ghetto booty' has been adopted by young women around the world, forming part of their colloquial vernacular. It does not have a derogatory connotation. While the term has a historical a link to the physical attributes of African-American and Latino women, it is not a derogatory term and does not apply in contemporary usage to any particular race or ethnic group.

"The ad does not have any racist connotations or undertones. The purpose of the advertisement is to engage with our client's target demographic, and to encourage and promote a positive body image in a light-hearted way.

"The campaign is intended to be a light-hearted, playful and fun approach to a fashion campaign promoting positive ways to dress for your shape, personality and budget."

Following this, the ASB ruled that the term was not used in a derogatory or racist way and dismissed the complaint.

It said: "The Board considered that for the Australian community, the term 'ghetto booty' is most likely to be considered a reference to a generously proportioned bottom and has little connection to any particular race. The Board also considered that the use of this term in the advertisement is not negative or demeaning.

"The Board noted that the intention of the campaign was to have an expert show another way of creating the impression of a “the perfect hour glass figure” in a light hearted and playful manner. The Board considered that each of the women shown appeared happy and genuinely interested in receiving fashion tips.

"It did not depict any material that discriminated against or vilified any person or section of society on account of race."

Do you find this ad offensive? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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