Ad watchdog rules: Objectification of women is okay, but not the lack of a seatbelt

A Brut ad which has been accused of sexism has been banned by the Advertising Standards Board – because one of the men isn’t wearing a seatbelt.

The Brut ad features three men ogling a woman in a bikini before concluding with the message: “Brut Code #85 Spot & share”.  

The video has been labelled as sexist by commentators.

One  complaint to the Advertising Standardas Board said:

I am in the obvious target audience of men aged 18-30 and am still disgusted at the lack of decency shown by any of the characters in the commercial and the lack of consideration shown by the advertisers themselves. The suggestion that women desire to be and deserve nothing more than to be gawked at as they walk down the street is an insult to human dignity. I am also appalled that this advert that focuses so much on the woman’s sexuality (her breasts are deliberately focused on at one point)

Another said:

“The coded language of the ad is sexist and demeaning to women and potentially has a very serious under story of gang rape.”

In its response to the complaint, Brut manufacturer Pharmacare said:

“The young woman is portrayed in a positive light, as the friends are naturally and openly appreciating her goods looks, but do not threaten or intimidate her in any way, in fact they keep a respectful distance in honour, or in awe, of her beauty and out of respect for her.”

And it also said of the woman in the bikini: “She is aware of her physical attributes and wears clothing and acts accordingly.”

The Ad Standards Board ruled:

“The Board considered that the woman is objectified. However the Board considered that the overall theme of the advertisement is light hearted and is specifically directed to depicting men who appreciate the beauty of a woman.”

And it added:

“The Board considered that the reference to seeing the attractive woman and making sure your friends also see her is not inappropriate in the context of the advertisement. The Board considered that the song and language are not suggestive of rape.”

Despite that, the board did find a reason to uphold the complaint. In a ruling published today, it said:

“The Board expressed concern about the man seen sitting on the rear shelf of the vehicle and the man in the boot of the car. The Board considered that as the vehicle is depicted in motion the depiction of the person in the boot and the person sitting on the car rather than in a seat is a depiction of material that does breach community standards on safety in vehicles and safe driving.”

Previous ads for the product have also been censured by the ASB.


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