An ad featuring a woman in pink underwear being held down and sheared like a sheep has been ruled to be exploitative of women and degrading by adland’s watchdog.
The ad – on a flyer for livestock service Shear Ewe – features Norwegian downhill skiier Kari Traad.
One complaint to the Advertising Standards Body stated: “The leaflet depicts three male shearers shearing – the central shearer is shearing a woman removing her scanty pink jumpsuit while restraining her. The objectification of women the sexual positioning of the woman the representation of a woman as an animal and the restraint used were offensive. I actually thought this was someone’s idea of a sick joke.”
But Sheer Ewe argued that the image was “a work of art” shot in 2008 to mark her clothing brand’s sponsorship of the Golden Shears Competition.
The company added: “I am not really clear about how she is being depicted as an animal while seated comfortably and clearly not odjecting to treatment, guess it depends on your point of view. Again depending on your point of view, who is being taken advantage of? You could argue that Miss Traa is taking advantage of the shearer, though I see it as a mutually beneficial arrangement.
“The shearers in the picture are the best in the world.
“I believe that Kari Traa exudes confidence, strength of character. Is a master of her own domain, individual, decisive and both sexualy and mentally liberated. I don‟t feel that she would let herself be objectified and vilified. I would not be using this piece of art in our advertisment if I thought otherwise. I obtained full permission from the Kari Traa Organisation to use the picture.”
The ASB ruled: “The Board noted that the woman is dressed but that she is posed in a mildly sexualised manner with the suggestion that she will soon be naked (from the shearing). The Board considered that the image makes use of the woman’s sexual appeal and attractiveness.
“The Board considered that the image depicts the man in a position of power and the woman in a submissive position. The Board also considered that the image depicts the woman in a position in which she is compared to an animal, with a suggestion also of commodification (ie: that there is, as there is in shearing, many others to be shorn).
“The Board considered that the representation of the woman as a sheep being shorn was irrelevant to the service advertised. The Board considered that the impact of the advertisement as a whole is exploitative of women and is also degrading.”