David Jones refutes 'sexualised' ad complaints

By Alison Lowe | 24 November 2015
Sydney Dance Company director Juliette Barton performs in David Jone's 'Fierce' spot.

David Jones has hit back against complaints that two online ads under its #ItsInYou campaign breached standards by being disrespectful of women and presenting them in an overly-sexual light.

Contrary to complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB), the retailer said that its intention was to present women as empowered.

The ASB agreed with David Jones in its consideration of complaints against portions of the retailer's digital campaign, saying it did not breach the Advertisers Code of Ethics.

In a sample of complaints against the ad provided by the ASB, a viewer said the models' skin exposure, expressions and movements are “sexualised and aimed at eliciting a sexual response”.

A complainant added that Australia has a tradition of pursuing respectfulness towards women and the ad was out of line with that tradition.

The two ads in question, 'Fierce' and 'Confidence', feature Juliette Barton, director of the Sydney Dance Company, and model and David Jones brand ambassador, Jessica Gomes. They form part of a series of videos appearing on the retailer's YouTube and Facebook accounts and website in which statements such as 'Swagger', 'Elation' and 'Power' are made visual by models wearing various David Jones garments.

'Fierce':

'Confidence':

“David Jones should consider if a website largely viewed by children and adolescents is an ideal – or even necessary – place to advertise this content on. Are 10 year-old children David Jones' main demographic for lingerie?” said a sample complaint about the ads provided by the ASB.

David Jones responded that the ads were intended to promote confidence and were not placed on sites whose audience is largely made up of children.

“The intention of the #ItsInYou campaign is that each advertisement will inspire viewers to recognise their own potential whilst acknowledging the positive impact that fashion can have on self-confidence.”

“In our view, the 'Confidence' advertisement is artistic, sophisticated and empowering – not overly sexualised or inappropriate,” said David Jones.

“We disagree with the complainant’s assertion that this website is largely viewed by children. The website target market is ‘over 25s’ and features adult Japanese anime not typically appropriate for children.”

Where model and brand ambassador, Jessica Gomes, is shown topless at one point, the retailer points out that she is only seen from behind and her breasts are not exposed.

“David Jones considers that the advertisements fully comply with the code. David Jones has received overwhelmingly positive feedback in relation to the advertisements with customers commending David Jones on such a positive, sophisticated and creative campaign,” said the retailer.

The ASB agreed, saying no breach had taken place. It dismissed the complaints.

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