Dominatrix-style forklift ad deemed inappropriate

By Kieran Campbell

Photo / File / Thinkstock
Photo / File / Thinkstock

An advertisement using a woman dressed in dominatrix-style clothes to sell used forklifts has been ordered to be removed from a company's van fleet because it was exploitative in using sex appeal to draw attention to an unrelated product.

Independent Forklifts Limited had intended its advertisement on the back of vans to be "humorous" and "risque" but it has been deemed inappropriate by the Advertising Standards Authority.

In the foreground of the ad was an image of a woman dressed in dominatrix-style clothing and holding a heavy chain.

A forklift was in the background and the pictures were accompanied by text that said: "You know you're not the first. But does that really matter? Used forklifts."

The authority said the advertisement breached guidelines because it exploited the use of sex appeal to draw attention to an unrelated product.

The complaints board said given the type of advertisement it would be ``highly visible to a wide cross-section of the general public, including children, rather than being confined to the advertiser's adult target market, which was likely to predominantly be adult men''.

"The complaints board was of the view that the high visibility of such an image meant the advertisement had neither been prepared nor displayed with the due sense of social responsibility," the authority said.

Independent Forklifts said it had been using the form of advertising for three years with "very little negative comments" and "in fact we regularly have the public of NZ ... comment how good it is".

The company submitted its ads were no more offensive than advertising for Jockey underwear that showed near-naked All Black Dan Carter with women in their lingerie.

"If or when the general public of New Zealand and or the Advertising Standards Authority finds Dan and the girls in Jockey adverts offensive then maybe we, as a company, will remove our adverts from the back of our vans," the company said.

The authority disagreed, saying it was not a valid comparison because there was a long-standing precedent that allowed the use of sex appeal in advertising where the images were directly related to the product.

The complaint was upheld and the advertisements ordered to be removed.

The person who complained about the forklift ads said it was "offensive to see that women's bodies are used to sell a service that clearly targets men".

The complainant said they found the "sexualising and objectifying of women for commercial advertising" as "troublesome and irritating".

"It becomes a sort of attention-seeking behaviour that is in many ways detrimental to how all women are viewed," they said.


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