The effectiveness of an advertising watchdog has been called into question by a local activist group for neglecting complaints made about advertisements displayed in public spaces.
Collective Shout is a campaign movement group who fight against the objectification of women and the sexualisation of girls in advertisements and publications.
“We have an ongoing campaign to reclaim public space. We know that parents are concerned that their kids are being exposed to sexualised imagery and messages that they aren’t mature enough to digest,” said Caitlin Roper. Campaigns Manager for Collective Shout.
The majority of complaints in question currently are about an advertising campaign launched by adult lingerie store, Honey Birdette.
The advertisements are large banners displayed in shopping centres where children and families go shopping. Women in the advertisements wear ‘sheer’ lingerie that allows the nipples and the pubic mound to be visible for passersby.
“We have had a number of incidents where supporters made complaints about sexist and porn scened Honey Birdette advertisements only for ad standards to come back to them and say they will not consider the complaint,” said Miss Roper.
What they are doing about it?
Collective Shout has started a petition to call on the Ad Standards Board (ASB) and the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) to revise the Code of Ethics. They hope this change would stop letting Australian advertisers get away with sexism and the objectification of women and girls through advertisements.
“The current system of advertising self-regulation facilitated this and it needs to change. So what’s going on now, the latest development is instead of making any progress in this area we actually appear to be going backwards,” commented Miss Roper.
The ASB manages a national system of advertising self-regulation. The system recognises the common interests of advertisers to promote consumer confidence and respect in the industry. They can make their own recommendations to an advertiser however they do not have the authority to enforce any rulings made.
It brings up the question… what good is a watchdog that does not have the ability to bite?
According to Caitlin Roper, ‘Ad standards currently claim their system of self-regulation is effective on the basis that they have an above 80% compliance rate to their rulings. However, Honey Birdette is a serial offender for breaching the code of ethics and often refuses to remove signage.’
It would take a change in the regulation system for anything to change with advertising standards and ethics. This is what the campaign group is trying to achieve with their petition. So that women and girls no longer grow up being harmed by the constant objectification indirectly being fed to them by society.
Collective Shout appeals to companies like Honey Birdette, Wiked Campers and 711 to be accountable for their advertising campaigns and the publications they produce. They also appeal to the regulators to make these accompanies accountable for the messages they are creating.
Listen to the 98five Morning‘s podcast interview with Caitlin to hear more or head to the Collective Shout’s website.
Written By Rebecca Low