Ann Summers I-Scream sponsored by Screaming O: Who Would Have Thunk it?


It’s hardly surprising that the I-Scream tour was sponsored by the Screaming O. This article comes from xbiz which is one of the leading porn industry journals: 

LOS ANGELES — The Screaming O and the Scream Team have teamed with U.K. retailer Ann Summers for the “I Scream” truck tour, handing out free ice cream and sexy treats across the British countryside.
And for a snapshot of their best “O-faces,” fans get a chance to win baskets full of Screaming O goodies.
“It’s been great fun traveling the countryside with the Ann Summers team and seeing what kinds of O-faces our products inspire across the pond,” The Screaming O partner Keith Caggiano said. “There’s nothing quite like interacting one-on-one with your fans — especially when there are Screaming O sex toys and sweet treats involved!”
The Ann Summers I Scream Van took off from Newcastle and headed to Manchester, Liverpool, London and Birmingham. “To the Scream Team’s delight, the crowds have been nothing but thrilled to take part in the festivities with a constant crowd surrounding the truck. Knowing that only the most authentic, ridiculous and giggle-inducing O-faces make the cut in the contest, British Screaming O fans have made sure to make sweet, silly love to the camera,” the company said.

I blogged about my disgust of the Ann Summers campaign here. I’m still angry. The normalisation of hyper-masculine, hetero-normative sexuality and branding aimed at children is destructive and reductive. It’s damaging to our children and diminishes their ability to form healthy sexual relationships as adults. This shit needs to stop.


An ad the ASA actually managed to ban

I will reiterate previous rants on advertising: who the fuck actually approves this shit? Seriously, is there some new requirement in marketing that you actually need to be both stupid and malicious ? Because, I don’t see how anyone with any sense would think that getting someone to spot the difference between the “Stallions” and the “mares” would be anything other than offensive. Yeah, I get that it was “Ladies Day” at the Cheltenham Festival but, honestly, these stupid arse commercials which put men in dresses to be edgy are about as intellectually challenging as a potted plant. 


In general, I think the ASA are about as useful as a chocolate tea pot but I’m hoping this ruling will see an end to the unbelievably stupid Bounty commercials. After all, if this ad is transphobic then those stupid ass Bounty ones are too.

Now, all we need is for the ASA to work out what misogyny is. I may start sending them a copy of the OED with every complaint letter with the relevant words highlighted.

Women’s Magazines: Reinforcing Patriarchal Values Using Women to Police Women

I think it’s obvious that I don’t read “women’s” magazines. I think I read Cosmo once when I was a teenager. It had an article on why swallowing sperm was bad: it’s high in calories. Because that’s what you should be thinking of when having sex: whether or not you will get “fat”. Not thinking about preventing STDs or ensuring that your relationship involves mutual respect and consideration so that both partners are sexually fulfilled without one doing something that makes them uncomfortable. Nope, swallowing is bad because it makes women fat. Course, that was 15 years ago. Considering the mainstreaming of porn, I’m sure swallowing is mandatory and those pesky calories can be covered by not eating anything else that day.

That is the purpose of women’s magazines: to make women realise how imperfect and pathetic they are and then flog them clothes, make-up and other assorted shite to make them feel like “real” women. It’s capitalism. Yes, some magazines like Marie Claire used to be pro-women including articles on work/life balance, sexual health and family relationships. But that isn’t what they sell now. Women’s magazines now sell that same old reductive, constrictive, and boring construction of female sexuality where we need to be sexually available to men at all times and concerned entirely with their orgasms whilst at the same time doing all the childcare, housework, and ensuring that we remain entirely fuckable by being malnourished and physically perfect at the same time.

This is without getting into the whole “celebrity” magazines which are marketed at women so we can laugh at Kerry Katona and buy make-up at the same time. The fact that Kerry Katona had a very public breakdown because she was ill is irrelevant. She gets to be what “good” women shouldn’t be and we can make ourselves feel better about being fat and ugly because we aren’t her. It is an incredibly destructive behaviour, pitting women against other women.

But, this is exactly what women’s magazines do. They reinforce the Patriarchy by using women to police other women. We become our own jailers; judging other women for not shaving their legs, having grey hair, or being overweight. Women buy magazines that call women who have literally just given birth fat. Women buy magazines that tell them they are frigid for not wanting to have anal sex. Women buy magazines that tell them to shut up in order to get a man. Women buy magazines that tell them that they can only be one of two things: fuckable or an invisible.

Personally, I am dancing in the streets at the demise of women’s magazines. I am glad that women are choosing to use blogs and twitter to talk with other women. Collaborative blogs like Jezebel, F-Word and Vagenda are replacing Cosmo. Teenager girls, who are surrounded by a pornographied culture which devalues and denigrates them, can access Scarleteen for information on sexuality and birth control. The Internet might be responsible for the explosion in violent pornography but it’s also the place of a deeply subversive underground of brilliant women writers who are fighting back; refusing to police the behaviour of other women in order to receive some crumbs from the Patriarchy’s table of plenty.

There is a reason the right-wing press spends so much time writing about the “nest of vipers” of Mumsnet and it’s not because we bake cookies. It’s because women talking to other women and supporting each other is what will destroy the Patriarchy. We aren’t just taking back our bodies. We are taking their power and it scares the shit out of the Patriarchy.

 

Misogynistic Advertising Walk of Shame: Boots’ Here Come the Girls campaign


I’ve been boycotting Boots for nearly two years now. The “Here come the Girls” advertising has been pissing me off since it first started. It’s sexist drivel at its most aggravating: telling women they are ugly whilst pretending to be supportive. Honestly, they make me spit with rage pushing the premise that women are so ugly that they can not possibly be seen in public without straightening their hair, using fruit flavoured body scrubs, and, at least, 10 different types of facial make-up. It goes without saying that all body hair is verboten and fat a sign of a friendless loser. The commercials are crass, insensitive and utterly dire. They might as well have the tag: we hate women but love your money.

Each ad in the series has reinforced the theory that women are incapable of self-restraint and have to resort to hiding their shopping from their husbands. If you are in a relationship and you have to hide your shopping, you are either suffering from a compulsive disorder or your husband is abusive. Neither are particularly good outcomes for the woman involved. The Christmas ads consistently portray women as responsible for the happiness of every other member of their extended family. Men, apparently, aren’t capable of buying their own mothers Christmas gifts, nor are they capable of wrapping presents. That’s without getting started on the ads which are ostensibly about “health” but really is about selling weight loss products. Remember, women aren’t only ugly. They are also incredibly fat. The constant reinforcement that women can not be happy without bubble bath, mascara and an entire first aid kit in their purse just makes me want to hurl the TV out the window.

The ad which pushed me over the virtual edge is this one which features two women are quite clearly very ill out running errands because their husbands have the sniffles. This is the patronising, self-sacrificing, arrogant twaddle that really fucks me off in advertising. Men get to take to their beds with a cold but a woman who does so is selfish, narcissistic and just a bad mother. Motherhood isn’t about sacrificing everything to the point of self-harm. The fact that motherhood as sacrifice is a meme that women can’t escape from is what is hurting women. Women who lose themselves are in pain. That is not something to celebrate.

The entire “Here come the Girls” campaign is degrading to women reinforcing every negative stereotype possible. FFS, we don’t even get to be women in these ads. We are “girls”. Not strong, independent women but silly, little girls without a thought in our [once slathered in Boots products] pretty little heads.

Ann Summers appears to believe ALL children are illiterate.

I think this Ann Summers I-Scream Tour advertising campaign is possibly one of the most offensive campaigns I’ve seen in a while. It appears to assume that all children under the age of 18 are illiterate and won’t understand the “i-scream” bit. Seriously, who thinks up this shit? And, who thinks its appropriate to market sex toys using an ice scream van? Are they stupid? Or, don’t they care about the destructive sexualisation of children? Their tagline:

Summer. We love it. Our hemlines rise with the mercury, and our inhibitions begin to melt away like ice cream over our fingers. It’s the sexiest time of the year, and your summer starts and ends with Ann Summers.

is irritating enough but an ice cream van driving up and down the country with the slogan: Come and See Us if you Fancy a Mouthful is just despicable. They are driving about in an ice cream van actually giving away free ice creams but not just any ice cream: one topped with flavoured lube. Apparently, women who show up in bikinis also get a chance to win swim wear and everyone has a chance at public humiliation by having their best “orgasm” face end up on Facebook. This is misogyny at its most destructive: it normalises the construct of women as fucktoys via the medium of a cultural signifier for innocence and childhood. Misogyny and the sexualisation of childhood aren’t “clever marketing ploys”. They are destructive and reductive constructions of sexuality which render ALL women nothing more than fucktoys.

I firmly believe that if you have to use a woman’s body to sell a product, that your product is shit but this is just a step too far for me. I am actually at a loss for words here. It is so offensive on so many levels that simply boycotting Ann Summers and reporting them to the Advertising Standards Agency doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I’m open to suggestions about how to tackle this because, right now, locking my daughters away in a tower is looking like an increasingly better solution than trying to help them navigate a culture which hates them.

UPDATE: I was quite angry when I wrote this last night and I forgot to link the Mumsnet thread where I first heard about this campaign. This is a link to a MN campaigns thread where MmeLindor is collating blogs on this issue.

These are some links to relevant decisions by the Advertising Standards Agency via a dear friend on FB:

TWITTER: 

  • #annsummers [this publishes your tweet directly onto the Ann Summers website] 
  • #misogynytour 
  • #boycottannsummers
BLOGS:

UPDATE 2: This link came via SCASE [Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation] and is an article in a pornography industry journal demonstrating the relationship Ann Summers has with a major producer of hardcore pornography. It is a graphic journal and all the usual triggering warnings are required.


Misogynistic Advertising Walk of Shame: Harvey Nichols Walk of Shame


I was one of the seven people who complained about the Harvey Nichols Walk of Shame Christmas advertising campaign. I think it was misogynistic, classist, fattist and reinforced rape myths. I’m still pissed off about it 5 months later. I am angry they ran such a misogynistic campaign. I am angry that no one at Harvey Nichols, their marketing team or their advertising company saw the truly vicious misogyny perpetuated in this ad. I can not believe any one thought it was “just a laugh” or a “joke”. Frankly, I can’t believe anyone was so stupid as to think this was funny.


I’m even angrier that the useless nincompoops at the Advertising Standards Agency actually dismissed the complaints and I’m angry at how dismissive they were of the complaint in the first place in that it took 3 months for them to actually respond to my complaint. I think their judgment, here, is a pile of pathetic arse-licking stupidity. I am bored of women’s sexuality being denigrated; of women being labelled sluts for daring to drink alcohol or have sex or leave a party the next day. I am bored of being labelled humourless and frigid because I don’t think it’s appropriate to call other women fat, drunken slags. I don’t buy into the discourse that the only women of value are young, skinny fucktoys with no opinions of their own. I’m angry that we are still being peddled this shit and that women are buying into it.
I will be boycotting Harvey Nichols now. The campaign was despicable. I don’t care that the campaign is over. I like myself. I like my body and I am not handing my sexuality over to a company that clearly hates its own customer base.

Misogynistic Advertising Walk of Shame: Innocent Drinks


Well, here’s another star in the Misogynistic Advertising Walk of Fame. Seriously, who approves this shit? So, now I’m adding Innocent Drinks to my ever increasing list of products boycotted due to trite, facile and utterly tedious marketing policies. If you can not sell your product without resorting to cliches, rape myths and misogyny, then you need either a new product or a new marketing department. It really is that simple. Using rape myths to sell your product isn’t “hip” or “cool”. It’s pathetic. It’s infantile and I’m going to stop buying your product.

However, Innocent Drinks have inspired a new weekly addition to my blog: The Misogynistic Advertising Walk of Fame Award. I am angry at the continuing bullshit that multi-national companies think is a great marketing strategy. The whole point of Innocent Drinks was they were healthy and had a good green policy. Selling out their core product purchasers in order to target an audience of stupid people is hardly a great marketing strategy. Boycotts are an effective weapon and a political stance in a capitalist-patriarchy and I’m going to start ensuring my purchasing power demonstrates just how little respect I have for companies who behave this way.

UPDATE: Innocent Drinks have pulled the offensive page from FB. They have also apologised.

Lush may want to take note of this.


P&G’s Stupid "Thank You Mum" Campaign Redux: The Boycott


Yesterday, I blogged my loathing for the sickly, obnoxious and totally misogynistic twaddle that Proctor & Gamble thinks is a good advertising campaign leading up to the Olympics. Judging by the reaction [and retweets] of my blogpost, I’m not the only one who is offended by this tripe. It’s one of the most ill-judged advertising campaigns I’ve seen in a while. It’s on par with the Outdoor Advertising Agency’s attempt at social media via slurring the characters of all working mothers [I’d link to the genius haikus written by the ever brilliant members of MN but Gary-The-Ad-Man was kinda whiny and they had to be deleted].

It’s a pile of shite and one deserving of its own campaign to let P&G know just how offended we are by the assumption that the only role mothers have is as skivvies and silent cheerleaders. Just what P&G thinks Paula Radcliffe, currently their ambassador for Pampers, does for a living is beyond me. Or, have they simply failed to notice the woman is an Olympian and a mother?

Helpfully, P&G have supplied contact details and a FB page on which customers can place their constructive concerns about the overwhelming fuckwittery that went into this campaign.

For a full list of assets and information related to the P&G’s ‘Thank You, Mum’s’ campaign, including photos and video, please contact:

Rosalind Jeffcoat: Rosalind.jeffcoat@hillandknowlton.com
Sophie Horton: Sophie.horton@hillandknowlton.com

FB: www.facebook.com/thankyoumum

There are a variety of contact details here. General enquiries by phone can be made here: +44 (0)1932 896000 or + 44 (0)191 297 5000

Should you choose to boycott, this is a list of some of P&G’s major brands:

Pampers
Ariel
Always
Pantene
Mach3
Fairy
Pringles
Lenor
Iams
Oral-B
Duracell
Olay
Head & Shoulders
Gillette
Braun
Fusion
Ace
Febreze
Ambi-Pur

In a remarkable coincidence which in no way reflects the relative intelligence of our cats [because they are all on the nincompoop spectrum], we can now boycott Iams as the cats loathe the new and improved Iams Light recipe. The fact that they won’t eat any other brand is a slight problem but one we shall overcome.

Misogynistic Advertising Walk of Shame: P&G Sponsors Mums?

Seriously, does no one who works for P&G’s marketing department or their advertising company know what ‘sponsor’ means because I don’t think they are working from the same dictionary as the rest of us. I’m a Mum and the fuckers have never sent me a sponsorship cheque.

Mostly, they’ve underpaid the ‘Mums’ who work in their factories making products that many of these employees won’t be able to afford.

Then they pay themselves healthy bonuses for profiteering off the labour of ‘Mums’. Let’s be honest here, most of these bonus-receivers will have penises.

P&G don’t sponsor Mums. They are just another greedy multinational corporation who care only about profit. If they gave a shit about ‘Mums’, they’d try actually paying the ‘Mums’ who work for them a living wage and benefits: like healthcare.

Or, and here’s a really radical thought: what about being an industry leader in equal pay, maternity and paternity leave, flexible working, extended benefits for health insurance, dental, glasses and prescriptions.

Instead of bullshit and extremely aggravating advertising campaigns where they fundamentally misunderstand the definition of the word ‘sponsor’, maybe they could just not act like another capitalist-patriarchal industry which profits off the (un)waged labour of women.

Oh, and while they are at it, perhaps they could actually learn that women aren’t servants; that men are equally capable of washing dishes, doing laundry and cleaning toilets. That men are just as likely to need buy dish detergent as women. Because, as annoying as these stupid sponsorship commercials are, they aren’t half as offensive as their assumption that women are nothing more than skivvies.

And, they should fire which ever nincompoop who came up with the ‘Have a Happy Period’ ads that their subsidiary Always has been running for years. Nothing makes me rage more than a bunch of stupid men coming up with an ad which suggests that having a smelly piece of chemically enhanced plastic near my fanjo will make up for the cramps and pain. Arsehats.

Boycotting Lush for Misogynistic Nincompoopery

So Lush has joined the ranks of PETA in its desperate attempt to be “trendy” and “cool” by using the abuse of women to make a political point about animal testing. The reason I shop at Lush is because of their stances on animal testing and environmentally friendly materials and packaging. I suspect most of their customer base shops with them for similar reasons. The reason I don’t support PETA is because of their tedious, dull, misogynistic and utterly hypocritical marketing strategies. Using women’s bodies to make a political point is hardly a new gimmick nor is it one requiring much intellectual stimulation. It’s the kind of dull-witted shit I expect from sexist bucketheads who lack both emotional literacy and critical thinking skills. PETA are beyond hope [as are their collection of dumb-arse celebrity endorsers who think violence against women is “art”].

I expect more from Lush. I expect them to be more intelligent, thoughtful and thought-provoking in their marketing campaigns. I don’t expect them to regurgitate the dull-witted shit others depend on because they aren’t capable of independent thought. I won’t link the video of their “performance art to raise awareness of animal testing” because it breaks my personal rules on pornography and I certainly can’t beat the criticism of the “performance art” by F-Word UK or Stavvers’ critique but I can add my voice to the list of customers who will be boycotting Lush until they remove the video from the website and make a proper, formal apology taking full responsibility for their fuckwittery. That “oh we thought we were edgy and thought-provoking” bullshit cuts no ice here.

As Laura Woodhouse says in her blog for F-Word UK: “Lush’s actions are crass, insensitive and actually damage many of the people who care about the issues they are trying to raise. As one of them, I am hugely disappointed in the company, and will never be shopping there again.”