Honey Birdette ignores breaches of Ad Standards yet again

Lingerie company Honey Birdette has been pinged again for breaching the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics for five different advertisements.

Each is for breaching a variety of sections including Section 2.2 (b) advertising shall not employ sexual appeal in a manner which is exploitative or degrading of any individual or group of people, Section 2.4 advertising shall treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience and Section 2.5 advertising shall only use language which is appropriate in the circumstances.

Honey Birdette has breached Ad Standards again

Honey Birdette did not respond to the initial complaints about any of the advertisements, nor did it respond to the the Ad Standards Community Panel conclusion. As a result of the non-compliance, Ad Standards “will continue to work with the relevant authorities regarding this issue of non-compliance.”

There were a variety of advertisements complained about, and, according to the complaints, all at the same Honey Birdette store in Forrest Chase, Perth. The advertisements depicted on the in-store TVs showed advertisements such as one portraying a woman in pink lingerie wearing a collar with a chain pulling at her out of frame, one with two women in red lingerie with the words “Tease me. Fuck me.”, one of a woman in lingerie with her buttocks and gluteal cleft (colloquially known as the butt crack) visible, one of two women with a riding crop and a spreader bar, and another of two topless women covering their breasts with their hands with a man in a rabbit mask.

In the complaints about the advertisements, a complainant said: “All are objectifying and degrading of women and entirely inappropriate for display in the public space which belongs to everybody – not to this Playboy owned sex shop. Note the scale of the size of these ads, with reference to the life-size mannequin to the right of screen. No corporate has the right to expose a non-consenting audience which includes children to its pornographic ads. This is a demonstration of corporate paedophilia, corporate grooming and corporate sexual harassment.”

Honey Birdette responded to two of the cases, stating: “The models are from the high profile agencies previously modelled for many lingerie companies world-wide. They are also models that are empowered by the product that they are wearing and that we sell in-store. In order to sell it (like any other retailer) we need to show it. Both women are posing as willing participants in the picture with no distress or discomfort displayed.”

Honey Birdette also said: “Please note images are not objectifying and degrading of women, nor are they entirely inappropriate. If a model in an advertisement is confident it doesn’t automatically mean that she is “demeaned” or “undervalued” or lacking in “power”. Her breast is not exposed, they are actually in lingerie, lace, and detail. You would see more skin at the beach.

“This is simply a model advertising lingerie for a lingerie store and is not ashamed to be confident or empowered. Comparing an image of lingerie and a mannequin to paedophilia or sexual harassment is a terrible distortion of basic merchandising.”

Amongst its findings across several of the advertisements, the Ad Standards Community Panel noted the images appear “in store windows and considered that the relevant audience includes retail workers, people shopping in the Honey Birdette store and people who are not shopping at Honey Birdette but who are walking past the store, and that this last group would include children”.

The panel also found that: “It is not known how long the image appeared on the screen, however it was likely that it would not be considered fleeting by most members of the community. The panel considered that the size of advertisement enabled the audience to focus on the scenario depicted, although the detail of the image may not be seen by everyone walking past.”

Not all of the advertisements were found to be in breach of all of the sections mentioned above, however, most were found to be in breach of Section 2.4 except for the first one listed above which did breach Section 2.2. The advertisement containing the word “Fuck” was found to be in breach of both Section 2.2 and Section 2.5, as well as Section 2.4.

It is the latest breach of Ad Standards that Honey Birdette has not responded to, with breaches of Ad Standards in November and in October also for sexuality.

In July, Honey Birdette was found to be in breach of Ad Standards and at that time, it responded with “It is never our intent to create controversy and they couldn’t be further away from being ‘porn’ style videos. We are a company run by woman, for women, who believe firmly in female empowerment.”

Honey Birdette also did not respond to that finding.

This article has been updated with Honey Birdette’s initial responses.


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