Ad watchdog dismisses “anorexia” complaint against Myer advertisements

Ad watchdog dismisses “anorexia” complaint against Myer advertisements

Myer’s new campaign is part of a brand “refresh”

Myer has been forced to defend its latest advertising campaign, after the Advertising Standards Board received a complaint that a television commercial featuring actress Tilda Cobham-Hervey promoted eating disorders.

The retailer unveiled its “Find Wonderful” commercial in October as part of a campaign from Clemenger BBDO, which chief executive Bernie Brookes told SmartCompany had been appointed to give the Myer brand a “refresh”.

The 60-second commercial features Cobham-Hervey in an animated black and white city, asking viewers if they “ever wonder where wonderful went”. The clip then transitions into colour to “bring back wonderful”, as Cobham-Hervey discovers the joy of shopping for shoes and jewellery in Myer stores.

But one viewer took issue with the ad, telling the advertising watchdog that Cobham-Hervey is “almost anorexic and is a poor role model for females”.

“She is setting a very dangerous image for females to feel ‘wonderful’,” said the complainant.

“I cringe when I see the ad and feel she needs a good feed or hospitalisation.”

But the Ad Standards Board disagreed, ruling that while Cobham-Hervey is “clearly slim”, in the ad she appears “healthy and not unhealthily skinny”.

“The advertisement does not make any reference to weight-loss or body image and … the use of the term ‘wonderful’ in the advertisement is clearly used in the context of the consumer goods which can be purchased at Myer … and not in the context of the weight or body type of the woman depicted,” said the board.

“The advertisement does not promote weight-loss or advocate a particular body weight or image and does not depict material contrary to prevailing community standards on health, particularly body image or body weight.”

SmartCompany contacted Myer this morning and was directed to the comments submitted by the retailer to the Advertising Standards Board.

“Myer understands that body image and eating disorders are serious and important health concerns within the Australian community,” Myer told the board.

“Accordingly, Myer is committed to and embraces different body shapes and sizes, as representative of the community generally. This is evidenced through the clothing size range available to Myer stores.”

“The creative of the campaign was to be youthful and highlight the innocence in looking back to the wonderful memories of the good old fashion way of shopping in a department store. Tilda was cast for the TVC as she possesses the youthfulness and innocence that Myer aimed to convey in its ‘Find Wonderful’ concept.”

Marketing expert Michelle Gamble, from Marketing Angels, told SmartCompany she agrees with the Advertising Standards Board’s ruling, saying there is nothing “offensive” about the commercial.

“She is not dressed in a way that would promote a thin body image or enhance it,” Gamble says.

Gamble says the members of the board generally take a “practical and pragmatic approach to the way they judge things” and will consider the context and message of a particular advertisement when assessing a complaint.

Gamble says it can be “difficult for advertisers who have to go through the rigmarole and use resources to defend a single complaint”, but there will always be members of the community with “extreme views”.

“People are over-sensitive, it’s a bit like social media and all the trolls,” she says.

But Gamble says the advertising watchdog still has an important role to ensure genuinely offensive advertisements do not go unchecked.


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