Complaints against Bonds advert starring Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake have been dismissed by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB); People complained the ad objectified Hamish, encouraged kids to pull their peers’ pants down and was sexist.
Earlier this year, Bonds announced husband and wife duo Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake were the new sports ambassadors, releasing a TVC and Q&A with the pair. During the launch Bonds head of marketing Emily Small said: “There was an infectious chemistry between the two on-set; Hamish was cheekily coaching Zoe from the sidelines, and vice-versa. It made the whole day a lot of fun! They both lead busy and active lifestyles, but like Bonds they don’t take themselves too seriously.”
However the ASB received several complaints about the ad:
- At one point the woman pulls down the back of the man’s pants and slaps his backside. If the roles were reversed and a male removed a females pants and smacked her bottom just because she beat him in an exercise routine, it would be considered sexist and offensive while objectifying and degrading her.
- The ad clearly objectifies men and shows how they are sexual objects to the viewers; is this message what we want children and other viewers to think?
- I feel this is derogatory towards men, also promotes putting down another person. We are constantly being told to respect women, but this ad does not show anyone being respectful. Surely we want to promote mutually respectful behaviour to other people not this sexist attitude.
- I am currently the director of a before and after school child care centre – this ad has had an impact on the behaviour of a few children at the centre who now feel it is okay to pull their peers’ pants down.
In response to the complaints, a Bonds representative argued that Blake are a “married couple with enormous respect for one another. The scene was developed in collaboration with the talent and reflects their cheeky, fun-loving personalities. The scene in no way indicates that Zoe dacked Hamish because of his gender or to objectify him.
“The relevant audience, in this case, includes adults interested in purchasing men’s underwear and the commercial was aired at an appropriate time to reach this audience. A key part of this range is men’s underwear and as such it is appropriate to show this product on the body as part of the brand’s communications.”
The ASB agreed with Bonds saying that “during the various activities the couple are seen as sharing power, presented as equals and playful in their interactions together. The Board noted the scene where the woman pulls down her partner’s shorts and smacks his bottom. The Board considered this was very playful and in the overall context of a friendly spar, was not of concern, and there was nothing in the man’s response to cause concern.”