Watchdog upholds complaint against “bondage” ad

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 13 March 2015
Image from Honey Birdette's Facebook page.

The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has upheld a complaint against lingerie shop Honey Birdette for showing a “bondage picture” of a “larger than life” woman.

The poster, in the shop window of Honey Birdette, showed a woman in a black bra and briefs with matching black handcuffs. The caption on the poster reads “Under lock and key ... view the short film series at HoneyBridette.com”.

A complainant objected to the sexuality and implied violence in the ad.

“This is a public shopping centre and I object to young people being exposed to this type of inappropriate advertising,” the complainant said.

“It sends the message that it is normal behaviour to restrain and oppress women for personal gratification.”

It continued: “These images are huge and one of the pictures had a woman in underwear with handcuffs on that were chained together.

“It is clearly a bondage picture. Who deems what is appropriate for children to see?”

While the ASB board dismissed complaints that the advertisement presented violence, it upheld the complaint on the grounds of treating sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity.

“The board noted that the display of the image in the store window means it is visible to a broad audience, which would include children, and considered that, overall, the depiction of a woman in a sexualised pose wearing PVC/leather-look lingerie and handcuffs does not treat the issue of sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant broad audience which would include children,” the ASB said.

Honey Birdette has been the subject of several complaints over the past few months, all of which have been dismissed. A complaint made in November last year compared one of its advertisements to “the kind of picture that would be on a porn magazine cover,” adding that “my children are subjected to it now”.

In its current ruling the ASB noted: “the board considered that this advertisement was more sexualised than previous advertisements.”

In response, Honey Birdette said the image had been removed to make way for its new campaign.

“Please be assured that we put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that it is not offensive whilst also representative of our brand,” Honey Birdette said.

“I hope this helps you understand that to market and advertise lingerie, a certain level of skin needs to be exposed, however we do this in a way that empowers women rather than demeans them.”

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