‘It’s 2017, it’s time to grow up’: Honey Birdette dismisses petition as ridiculous
Honey Birdette has dismissed a petition calling the lingerie chain’s advertising pornographic as ridiculous, with its managing director stating “you’ll see more flesh at the beach”.
“We’ve spent the last 11 years empowering women, all this group wants to do is disempower women, it’s 2017 it’s time to grow up,” Eloise Monaghan said on Friday afternoon.
On Thursday, Fairfax Media reported thousands of people had signed an online petition calling on Westfield stores around to stop the brand from using “porn-style advertising”.
Ms Monaghan confirmed some Honey Birdette employees experienced harassment on Friday from people entering or calling stores and insulting staff in response to the petition.
She said Honey Birdette’s stores offered a very safe and inviting environment and this behaviour was disappointing.
The petition was launched by Melbourne father, Kenneth Thor, a supporter of the Collective Shout organisation which Ms Monaghan referred to in her comments.
On Thursday, Fairfax Media spoke to Sydney mother of five, Kat Israel, who said she supported the petition because she didn’t want her children to see the “soft porn images” at her local shopping centre, owned by AMP Capital.
On Friday night the petition had more than 26,000 signatures.
Collective Shout’s website describes the group as a “grassroots campaign movement against the objectification of women and the sexualisation of girls”.
In a media release Collective Shout said they were a diverse group of 75,000 supporters from all walks of life.
Operations Manager for Collective Shout, Laura Mcnally, said the campaign against the brand’s advertising was not about conservatism or shaming women.
“The placement of this signage in family-friendly areas signifies a cultural context that accepts the second-class status of women as objects,” Ms Mcnally said.
“This is not to tell women what they should or shouldn’t wear, this is about addressing cultural drivers that lead to gender inequality.”
In an email to Honey Birdette stores across on Friday morning, Ms Monaghan wrote it “came as no surprise” the group was targeting the company’s advertising.
“Let’s show them that is for women’s bodies, not against them,” she wrote.
“If you have complaints, politely say that you will pass their feedback on.”
Ms Monaghan said was not as conservative as the members of the Collective Shout group.
“You’ll see more flesh at the beach or Pitt Street at 12am on a Friday,” she said.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous, there’s no difference from any other lingerie company or any other swimwear label, and in fact there is less flesh.” Courting controversy?
Ali Tilling, head of planning at advertising agency BMF, said whether or not people considered Honey Birdette’s advertising soft porn, it was “definitely at the very edge of the line advertisers can walk”.
“They strike me as a brand that is courting this controversy and that’s what they are aiming to achieve,” Ms Tilling said.
She said all brands walk a fine line between making headlines for the right and wrong reasons. For lingerie brands it’s an even more severe line.
“Because they are less well-known they have to make a statement – the strategy they’re using is to make a real statement.”
A spokeswoman for the Advertising Standards Bureau told Fairfax Media on Thursday Honey Birdette had received a number of complaints against its advertising.
“A number of Honey Birdette ads have been found to breach standards but an equal number have been found to be acceptable,” she said.
“With lingerie advertising, what we find is that there are always some people who find it offensive regardless of how it’s advertised.” ‘They are quite controversial’
Ms Tilling said Honey Birdette would be well prepared to respond to backlash.
She used the example of a video the brand posted on Facebook, featuring women in lingerie at an office party surrounded by men in suits – a controversial approach amid highly-publicised workplace sexual harassment allegations worldwide.
“They obviously know this is going to cause controversy and that is what they’re trying to do,” she said.
Ms Tilling said those who shopped at the chain were well aware of the brand’s unashamed stance on women’s sexuality.
“I think they know their target audience and that would be people who are pretty ready to embrace the fact they are quite controversial.”