Luxury lingerie brand Honey Birdette's managing director Eloise Monaghan has hit back at ABC's media analysis and comment show Media Watch for calling the brand’s same-sex marriage equality rally a “marketing stunt”.
Speaking with AdNews, Monaghan says she didn’t even watch the ABC program that featured a three minute segment slating her brand – and questioned who else tunes into the show.
“Who even watches Media Watch?” Monaghan says.
“Apart from journalists, I don’t think people watch Media Watch. No one watches commercial TV.
“We put our blinkers on and do what we do best – sell lingerie. In South Australia, we had our biggest week in six months, despite the controversy.”
The same-sex marriage rally Media Watch slammed as "staged"
Monaghan is referring to a recent billboard posted in Rundle Mall, Adelaide, which featured women in a new range of underwear where one model’s nipple is visible.
The billboard caused a stir with shoppers objecting to the visible nipple. Honey Birdette was asked to take down the ad as it was “causing offence” in a public place.
“We photoshopped out the woman’s nipple as much as we could, but she’s wearing a soft cup. We couldn’t take it out much more without making her look like an alien,” Monaghan says.
Following the nipple-gate incident, Monaghan learned of the plebiscite vote and as a gay woman herself, felt as if she had to do something – not just for marriage equality but to motivate her team.
“I don’t really care if Media Watch thought it was for marketing purposes. I did it for my 300 team members,” she says.
“In all honesty I wasn’t doing it for publicity. We were doing it for outcomes and standing for something as a brand. It’s better than doing nothing.
“I love a bit of controversy and if 10% of people aren’t comfortable with what we do – then so be it.”
Monaghan also batted away sexual harassment allegations made by previous employees.
“We have gold standards when it comes to work place safety. Yes we are a polarising brand, but the sexual harassment case is ridiculous and was started by social trolls who had to be let go for selling their own products through the store,” she says.
“I pay for taxis home. I pay for breast checks… The fact the ABC reported it – they haven’t done the research. They haven’t even approached us for comment.”
Honey Birdette has been a serial offender when it comes to ad standards complaints. In 2016, it was listed in the top 10 most complained about ads for the year.
The brand has been forced to remove several ads in the past, including one which featured a gagged Santa.
“The Santa campaign wasn’t risqué. It was fun. Once again you can’t please everyone. David Beckham can lie down and grab his crotch, but we can’t show a Santa enjoying himself?”
Not surprisingly, the backlash to recent ads hasn’t made Monaghan second guess the brand’s direction.
“We are sensible. We have to advertise the lingerie we sell and it happens to be provocative. The people that complain about the ads are never going to be the people to shop at Honey Birdette.”
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