Topless General Pants Ad Is A-Okay With Advertising Standards Board

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Complaints against fashion retailer General Pants Co. advertising image for “Fit In – Whoever, However, Where Ever” has been dismissed by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB). People complained that the primary image of a lineup of men and women where the men are wearing clothes and the women are topless was inappropriate in a retail setting, sexist and degrading to women.

Here is the “Fit In” campaign which appeared across General Pants’ store windows, General Pants Co. website and social channels:

A sample of the complaints included:

  • The advertising is objectifying women. It says that women are nothing but sexual objects to be used and stared at by men.
  • The men were dressed while the women were either topless or in bras. The topless woman is irrelevant to the product being sold.
  • This imagery perpetuates the sexual objectification of women and the exploitation of women. It is a degrading image because of the clear power imbalance between the men and women and the sexual implications of the picture.
  • This is overtly sexual, overtly discriminatory and degrading to women. There is no sensitivity to the constant passing by of children, particularly young girls who would be influenced by this advertising.
  • We should be teaching our children that women should be respected – both in advertising and in real life, and that women should find their value in their inner qualities – not their naked bodies.
  • In addition, General Pants have partnered with white ribbon, an organisation that seeks to create awareness about violence against women. The values of white ribbon and General Pants are clearly not aligned in this ad campaign

In response to the complaints, a representative from General Pants Co. said the images were created by both men and women. “The overall message of the campaign is about the collective of denim brands and there were a number of images in the campaign, not a focus on any one image.

“Please note Windows will be removed on Monday 11 April 2016. We have also spoken to the marketing team about the recent campaign feedback and to be aware of our advertising content/imagery for future reference.”

In ASB ruled that the ad was not discriminatory because the topless woman is not depicted in a demeaning manner and is not represented in a less favourable way.

“The Board considered that the advertisement portrays all the models as confident and felt that the advertisement did not discriminate against or vilify women in particular, as they were treated as equal in the group and the woman without the top was equally confident.

“The Board considered that while the ad does depict some nakedness, the nudity does not expose any private areas at all. The Board noted that the one model’s breasts are not visible and her pose as well as that of the other models is not sexually suggestive.”

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