Mrs Cromercrox, Canis cromercroxorum and I enjoy Wednesday evenings in front of the box watching Desperate Housewives, being the soap-tastic adventures of a group of women and their menfolk in American Suburbia. My enjoyment is spoiled by the adverts from the sponsor, Kinder Bueno, manufacturers of fattening synthetic crap confectionery, whose tag line is ‘a little of what you fancy’. Superlative takes up the script very well:
Some women are out for lunch at a restaurant and are being served by an attractive male waiter. They wait for him to come near their table, and deliberately throw something on the floor. He bends over to get it, and they all scope out his tightly denimed ass together.
and then speculates what would have happened had the roles been reversed.
But switch the sexes and you get a group of men out for a meal, eyeing up the hot waitress. They chuck something on the floor and proceed to leer at her as she innocently picks it up for them, possibly nudging each other and licking their lips. 100,000 complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency for exploitation.
This advert has, in fact, been the subject of complaints in the UK and also in New Zealand, where the complainant wrote
I am complaining about the advert for Bueno Chocolate being shown on TV in NZ. The part of the ad I am complaining about is at the end of the advert the 3 ladies sitting in the Cafe and the male waiter is doing his job the ladies deliberately drop a spoon so the Male waiter has to pick it up. While he is doing that the 3 ladies are very deliberately and intentionally checking out his ass as if he was a piece of meat or a sex object with no feelings or emotions. I found this offensive and very sexist.It made the male waiter appear as if he was the play thing for the amusement of the women in the cafe. I just don’t see what a man’s ass has to do with selling chocolate. It is a very demeaning and offensive advert for males and I am sure if it was 3 males checking out the ass of a female waitress the ad wouldn’t be shown on TV. I look forward to your response.
The complaint was not, apparently, isolated.
In response, the advertiser wrote that the advert had been shown in the UK and had also been subject to complaints, but the Advertising Standards Authority had chosen to take no action, noting further that
The advertisement was intended to be a light-hearted depiction of mischievous behaviour. The advertisement provides a sense that Bueno gives you confidence, allows you to be natural, makes a social moment more fun and is a little indulgence. There is nothing aggressive about the women’s actions nor were they behaving in an intimidating manner. The male waiter is not subject to any humiliation or degradation, he is shown to be behaving in a normal, everyday manner and is completely unaware of the girls’ attention.
So, next time I’m caught leering at some nice young lady’s decolletage, I can always claim I’m being ‘light-hearted’ and ‘mischievous’, and people should be able to take a joke. Hmmm. I wonder how that would wash at the Guardian. Anyway, there is a lot more of that drivel, if you want it. The New Zealand Advertising Standard Authority’s deliberation makes interesting reading.
In making its determination the Complaints Board acknowledged that there were different levels of social acceptability for the portrayal of males and females in advertisements, and to portray men observing women in the manner shown in the advertisement may well have been deemed to cause serious and widespread offence in the light of currently prevailing community standards, breaching the Code for People in Advertising
So much for sexual equality. The board went on to note that
The Complaints Board then referred to the light-hearted theme of the advertisement and the behaviour of the women. It noted that the advertiser had conducted research which had indicated that the behaviour shown was understood by viewers, liked and accepted, and there was no evidence that it had caused offence.
… drawing a veil over the fact that some people had indeed complained, which is why the Complaints Board had met to begin with. So there you have it, Laydeez and Gennlemen – sexual discrimination, outlined in black and white.
Actually, even more irritating than the disgraceful, offensive and discriminatory advert is the voiceover, from some young female who obviously can’t pronounce the English Language – the female version of Neanderthal workmen guying at passing women and urging them to (and I hesitate to say this on a family blog) ‘get their tits out for the lads’.