Marketing

Bonds dancing in undies ad like “soft core porn” for some TV viewers

Kirsten Robb /

A still from the Bonds ad that has drawn complaints

Bonds has attracted the attention of its customers with its latest advertising campaign, but not all of them are happy with the way the iconic retailer promotes its undies.

The undergarment maker’s advertising has come in for criticism in the past, but the latest round of complaints to the ad watchdog focus on a Boxing Day sale TV commercial featuring three young women dancing in their Bonds underwear, while information about a 40% off sale is shown on screen.

“This ad contains so much sexism and is more like soft porn,” said one complainant to the Advertising Standards Bureau.

“It is overtly sexual, even the facial expressions that the women are pulling. I find the dance moves quite provocative and really a BIG step away from other Bonds ads,” said another.

In response to the complaints, Bonds’ parent company, Pacific Brands, said the dancing was intended to be fun and playful, and in a manner consistent with the brand’s personality.

“The close-ups are to show detail on the product, not to focus on specific body parts,” said Pacific Brands.

“The campaign highlights the movements consumers do while in stores shopping over the Boxing Day period. From running in the front doors, to grabbing product from racks and shelves, to looking at yourself in the fitting room mirror, the dance was designed as a fun, lighthearted way to showcase Boxing Day shopping movements.”

In deciding whether or not the ad breached the Advertising Standards Code, the board considered other complaints it had previously dismissed against Bonds, which featured people in their underwear.

“The board noted that it is reasonable to expect an underwear advertisement to feature imagery of underwear and considered that the manner in which the underwear is presented in the advertisement is not sexualised and is not inappropriate,” said the watchdog.

Dismissing the latest round of grievances, the board found Bonds had not used sexualised images or inappropriate nudity.

Digital marketing expert Michelle Gamble, founder of Marketing Angels, told SmartCompany she believes the complaints are an “overreaction”.

“You’re always going to get people on the more extreme side who see that type of ad as exploitative of women,” says Gamble.

“Personally, I think they have got to advertise their underwear some type of way, and it is targeted at young girls.”

Gamble says while Bonds have made an effort in the past to feature women of different body shapes in their advertising materiel, it would be interesting to see if this ad attracted the same criticism because it included a more diverse image of women.

“It would be interesting to see if the problem was that it was salacious or the fact it only showed a certain type of woman,” she says.

“Perhaps introducing different types of body shapes may or may not have made some people happy.”

SmartCompany contacted Bonds but did not receive a response to prior to publication.

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Kirsten Robb

Kirsten Robb is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.

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