Roxy ad campaign sparks backlash for use of a sexy surfer: Four lessons in campaign planning

Surfwear brand Roxy has had a wipe out with its latest ad campaign, with consumers crying out over the clothing company’s latest advertisement, saying it goes too far in sexualising a young female surfer.

The company’s YouTube promotion features a blonde female surfer, scantily-clad in lingerie for a large portion of the commercial, and asks viewers to guess the identity of the attractive blonde.

The purpose of the ad was to raise awareness for the upcoming Roxy Pro Biarritz competition and while this has certainly been achieved, some social media users and social commentators have gone so far as to label the campaign soft-core porn.

Facebook user Mimi Roterman commented: “#DAREYOURSELF to release your next promo video showing a ‘complex’ and ‘multi-dimensional’ female surfer, and include an athlete not being sexy: How about a female surfer who isn’t in their teens/20s, doesn’t have blonde hair, a body size larger than size six and is not surfing in a bikini.”

Roterman’s views were shared by many other Roxy fans, with the commenters predominantly female, although some users said they were not fazed by the sexy commercial.

Twitter users also expressed their outrage over the campaign, with commenters accusing Roxy of objectifying women.

Late last week, Roxy released a statement on the company Facebook page responding to the community’s complaints.

“Obviously, there’s been much conversation around the video we released recently. We believe all athletes are naturally beautiful, in and out of the water. You certainly don’t have to be sexy to be an athlete, and we also believe it’s not wrong to be an athlete and to be sexy, if you choose to be.”

“We don’t judge one to be better than the other and we don’t believe in excluding one for the other,” the statement said.

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SmartCompany contacted Roxy, but no further comment was received prior to publication.

Marketing agency Taboo’s strategy director Richard Hack told SmartCompany Roxy should have anticipated the mixed reaction to the campaign.

“It’s a bit provocative and it touches on the line between women’s sport and women’s fashion. It becomes an issue if Roxy hadn’t anticipated the reaction.

“While there have been a number of people reacting negatively against the ad, what matters is how the target audience reacts to it. If you’re going to push the limits, you’ve got to have your target audience in mind,” he says.

This article continues on page 2.

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