It’s not everyday a “Beautiful Blonde woman” becomes a victim of discrimination. I say victim lightheartedly, because in truth she probably doesn’t really feel victimised at all. Every second advertisement today is in some way either ‘sexist’, ‘stereotypical’, ‘inappropriate’ or has the audacity to offend some over-sensitive-prude with too much time on their hands.
St George Scrap Metal Yard has caused the most recent stir with their Advertisement of a Blonde lady in a bikini, kneeling on a beach (as shown below).
For those of you who tilted your head slightly at the sight of the print, the billboard’s slogan reads – “St George Metal Recovery. They are definitely not the largest. But I wouldn’t sell my stuff to anyone else”.
So I’ll give you the basic guts of the controversy first. As expected, somebody who had seen the billboard complained to the ASB (Advertising Standards Board), claiming the billboard was distasteful and offensive obviously to women.Specifically, as sourced from mUmBRELLA, the complaint stated – “I am offended by this advertisement because it is sexist to include a scantily-clad woman on a billboard advertising a service which has no relation whatsoever to the image used”
along with that complaint, the individual also added in the old argument of the image being “heavily Photo shopped” and emphasizing the fact that again, the image has no relevance to metal or the company, deeming the ad as “sexist”, “predatory” and “offensive”.
The first thing I want you to acknowledge is that scrap metal has nothing to do with a woman in a bikini on a beach? But advertisements as of recent aren’t as blunt and straight to the point as they traditionally were. A woman in a bikini on a billboard will get just about anybody’s attention whether it’s for the wrong or right reason, in fact this attention has probably given the company the one thing it truly wanted – more exposure – and what’s the classic saying… there’s no such thing as bad publicity?
While my inner-feminist wants to be appalled and shocked, I couldn’t shake the feeling of déjà Vu, and the realisation that I, like a lot of people, have become completely de-sensitised to advertisements like this. An objectified woman no longer shocks me; it’s kind of become the norm really? Which means I should argue that it doesn’t make it any less appalling, but for me the shock factors gone.
But this is where the companies rebut comes into play. In response to complaints against the billboard, the St George Scrap metal Yard defended their ad saying the actual complaint could be viewed as discrimination – the discrimination obviously being against “blonde beautiful women in general” of course, as the complaint clearly suggests she is a “sexual object” (according to the company) – PLOT TWIST, didn’t see that coming.
It gets better; apparently suggesting the photo was “Photo shopped” also discriminates against “any beautiful woman who has ever had a half decent photo taken of them”. Also the scrap yard is less than 1 km from the beach, and I guess blonde woman wearing bikini’s on the beach is the norm right? So I guess there is at least geographical accuracy to the ad!
But that’s about as convincing as their argument gets, they probably should have bit their tongues past that point. In response to the “slogan” on the billboard which could clearly be interpreted as foul and inappropriate, referring to the woman’s bust and implying she sells herself could easily be the interpretation made – unless you were born on another planet.
So if I post half naked photo’s of myself and receive criticism, I’m being discriminated against right? Even though it’s not really socially acceptable?
What about men? men can be objectified and sensualised for the purpose of advertising too … So where do we draw the line of double standards?
Like as if you can look past those abs, who cares what his selling, you’ll have 12! “Attractive” Men are being used more and more throughout advertising, although It just doesn’t seem as shocking.
But more seriously and back on topic (on the topic of the Blonde lady on the billboard that is), this to me just looks like a failed attempt at male humor. Men know no boundaries and are forever overstepping the boundaries. It’s kind of like when your boyfriend and his mates crack dirty jokes about stupid things – you think it’s vile and immature, but you laugh it off because it doesn’t really affect you – well for me it was like that. Kind of distasteful, but I could appreciate the humor in what they were trying to do as well as the nature of advertisements.
As for the Photoshop argument – we know we’re not all Megan Fox; Megan Fox probably doesn’t even look like Megan Fox once she’s stripped bare! Advertisements are designed to be idealistic. We’re all completely aware by now of the touch ups involved in photo editing, majority of us edit our own photos – not that I’m applauding companies who do this – tutt tutt!
Then there’s the point of view of “liberation”, considering some women can’t leave the house exposing even their knees – I experienced this all through high school, it was very repressing. So, Good for you blonde girl, you rock that Bikini sweetie – Societies contradictions are endless.
There are things which cause much greater offense then this, and generally most women seem to have a pretty good sense of humor nowadays towards things – although I wouldn’t mind seeing a dad scrubbing the shower floor on the next Ajax ad! Get with the times people – I find the assumption made by advertising companies that all women are “house wife’s”, to be more offensive then any blonde in a bikini!
HOWEVER, the negative side effects of women in advertising are explored in this short snippet from the documentary – Killing us softly 4: Advertising’s Image of Women by Jean Kibourne. Which does raise some truths and concerns…
I guess also, if nobody did complain, and companies weren’t slapped on the wrist for this kind of advertising, nothing would be off limits, and I guess that could get ugly. But have we gone from being the target market, to being the product marketed?
So do you put it down to terrible man humor OR discrimination against women? Is it a ridiculous argument, or an outdated one? Let me know your thoughts?