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Ad watchdog clears Berlei ‘time to be kind’ bra ad for TV despite Facebook’s rejection

Australia’s Advertising Standards Board has cleared Berlei’s ‘Womankind’ ad for broadcast despite Facebook and Instagram banning the ad “out of fear of potential offence to the community” in September.

Created by Accenture’s The Monkeys, the commercial features the different things women’s breasts have endured in the name of fashion over the years.

One of the 43 complaints made to the Ad Standards Board said the commercial for the Pacific Brands underwear brand was “degrading,” “undermining”  and “under valuing” towards women.

Another complaint claimed it “breeds contempt and disrespect for women” while others said it was too “graphic” for prime time television.

“I simply think it was entirely inappropriate for this time slot, its 8:00pm, young kids are watching Survivor on channel 10 and I simply think the content of the add was quite revealing and not appropriate for young kids to be viewing.”

“Its quite revolting and cheap advertisement . Cannot watch the show with my family just because of that bra ad,” other complaint noted.

The ad was commissioned by a female team at Berlei including senior marketing manager Zoe Hayes and assistant brand manager Chontelle Clark. And the ad team was led by creative director Barbara Humphries who said when it launched: “The Womankind campaign reveals all the frustrations women have endured over the years from bras. We wanted to tell this story with humour, empathy and bold honesty.”

Responding to the complaints Berlei’s response to the ASB stated nipples were pixellated censored in the commercial and the breasts shown are not “glamourised or sexualised in any way”.

“They are depicted in an unglamorous and harsh light in order to highlight the discomfort associated with fitting breasts into an ill fitting bra. Accordingly, in our view the level of nudity present in the advertisement is mild at most, and treats the subject matter with an appropriate level of sensitivity to the relevant audience,” Berlei added.

Accepting Berlei’s argument, the ad watchdog that the breasts shown were not depicted in an exploitative or degrading matter and did not show “sexual appeal”.

The ASB wrote: “The Board noted that some of the images expose a significant amount of the women’s breasts but considered that as the woman are shown struggling with bras and various other options, the portrayal of the women are not sexualised images and does not employ sexual appeal to promote the new bra.”

Finding all the women in the ad are portrayed in a “true to life” manner, the Board cleared the ad and dismissed the complaints.

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