From Bonds to “Boobs” – how far is too far when it comes to marketing your business?

The latest advertising campaign from Australian brand Bonds sees the iconic name turned into “Boobs”, along with women pictured dressed in bras and underwear.

It promotes the brand’s fresh offer of bras that come in a broader range of sizes and fits. In a statement, the company said it was a bid to show the brand is “getting serious about bras”.

The company hired Clemenger BBDO to produce the campaign, and it has invested in billboards, online and print advertising to promote it. However, since its launch one week ago, consumer reaction has been mixed.

It changed the logo across all forms of media, including social media, signage and advertising.

A spokesperson for the Advertising Standards Bureau told SmartCompany this morning that so far 15 official complaints had been made about the campaign.

The spokesperson said that complaint numbers can vary from one to 200 for any given campaign, so 15 was “not excessive”.

However the concerns will be put to a board of 20 community representatives, who will decide if it breaches the Australian Association of National Advertisers Code of Ethics.

“In this case I expect it (the review) will focus on the language, the sexuality and the nudity”, the spokesperson said.

Independent brand analyst Michel Hogan told SmartCompany this morning the approach by Bonds was nothing that hasn’t been done before by other brands, so she isn’t sure what all the fuss is about.

Hogan says for Bonds, cheeky advertising is not out of character.

“They’ve had Pat Rafter running around in his underwear playing tennis for years,” she says.

“If Bonds had never had people in their underwear before…and all of a sudden they did, it [the fuss] could be justified if it is out of character.

“Because Bonds has a heritage of being provocative in a cheeky way, it is not pushing the boundaries.”

While she didn’t think it was offensive, Hogan says the use of the colloquial word “Boobs”, could get conservative consumers off side.

“When organisations push too far, they risk damaging what people think of them.”

Hogan says a brand such as Bonds can afford to “take advantage of their logo”, by keeping the look but changing the letters, as it is so well established.

She says it is fine to do for a short campaign such as this, to assist a reinvention of how people perceive a company.

But for smaller businesses, she says to be cautious about this approach, as they may lack the strength of logo recognition needed to make it succeed.


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