The Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has upheld complaints about lingerie store Honey Birdette’s advertising campaign which featured scantily clad women and gagged Santa Claus.
Lingerie brand Honey Birdette has 41 stores across Australia selling lingerie and sex toys. Over Christmas it ran two advertisements in its stores, online and on the radio.
The two poster images included a woman in red lingerie standing over Santa Claus figure who is lying on the floor at her feet. The text reads, “Knock Santa’s socks off!” The second image is a woman in red lingerie is standing with her bent knee resting on Santa’s lap. Santa has a red gag over his mouth. The text reads, “Silent Night…”
Some of the complaints included:
- The image of Santa Claus is sure to draw attention to children who happen to walk past and therefore the sexualised advertising depicted along with the image.
- Given that this is a sex shop masquerading as a lingerie store it is disturbing that Honey Birdette would choose to advertise in this way.
- The connection between Santa and sex is so wrong.
- I did not actually see the poster until my children (two five year olds and a three year old) pointed it out and wanted to know what Santa is doing.
The chain of lingerie stores said in response to the complaints: “The use of Santa imagery in our advertising is intended to be humorous and festive while still showcasing our product. Santa is in no way sexualised – he is in very traditional clothing with limited interaction with the model who is wearing our latest lingerie set ‘Mistress Red’.
“In order to market and advertise lingerie, we need to show a model wearing it, however we do this in a way that empowers women rather than demean or degrade them.”
In its ruling, the ASB said: “The depiction of the woman in her lingerie standing over him while he is bound could be seen by people as suggestive of sexual violence and the expression on Santa’s face would appear to strengthen this suggestion.
“The inclusion of Santa in a large store front window would be likely to draw the attention of children, the Board considered that overall the woman’s pose and the inclusion of a bound and gagged Santa suggests a sexual scene in a manner that is not sensitive to the likely broad audience.”
Following the ruling, a spokesperson from Honey Birdette said: “During this Christmas period we experienced our strongest sales ever…As Honey Birdette continues to grow rapidly we will always strive to uphold the brand’s image and values. Empowering women is our main focus.
“The signage at our Rundle Mall, Charlestown and Chermside stores have all been removed. All of the stores are receiving new signage today. The image will no longer be visible.”