Ad watchdog: ‘BOOBS’ is not an inappropriate word when selling bras

Bonds BoobsAround 35 complaints to the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) against the Bonds ‘Boobs’ campaign have been dismissed, with the ASB ruling the term is not inappropriate in the context of selling bras.

The campaign, which launched in October, saw Bonds change its name to ‘BOOBS’ across all signage, including all social media channels, and across billboards in capital cities.

The campaign aimed to make a statement about Bonds being in the bra industry while also marking the renewed partnership with the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

A complaint to the ASB regarding Bonds’ teaser billboard campaign read: “I find the word “boobs” to be inappropriate in the context of advertising. If the word is not appropriate for children to use during school hours and deemed offensive in that context, then I don’t understand how it is appropriate for the same word to be used for mainstream marketing, so boldly and without any reference to the product. I find the word boobs offensive.”

Bonds is for BOOBSA further complaint against phase two of the ‘BOOBS’ campaign, which featured women dressed in Bonds underwear, read: “The advertisement is supposedly about women’s lingerie, but using the term “Bonds is for Boobs” makes it seem as though the object for sale is the women’s breasts rather than the bras. It seperates a woman’s breasts from the rest of her body, mind and identity.”

The finding by the ASB that the term was appropriate within the context of the campaign validates research undertaken by Bond which indicated that the word ‘Boobs’ is part of the Australian vernacular.

In response to the complaints, Bonds told the ASB: “The selection of the word ‘BOOBS’ was quite deliberate – recent research undertaken by Bonds indicates that the word ‘BOOBS’ is part of the Australian vernacular, with 74% of women using the term to describe their own breasts. The research results, coupled with anecdotal feedback from our customer-base, clearly indicate that the terminology is socially acceptable and commonly used in society.”

The ASB ruled: “The Board considered that, although the advertisement refers to women‟s breasts, the advertisement is not sexualised to a degree that is inappropriate for the broad audience that will see the advertisement. Based on the above the Board considered that the advertisement did treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience and did not breach Section 2.4 of the Code.

The Board considered the term “boobs” and recognised that some members of the community may be offended by the reference to women‟s breasts as boobs. The Board considered that the use of the term boobs is common slang, is used in a manner that is consistent with modern Australian vernacular, and is a word that many women use in relation to their own breasts.”


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