Assvertising, Part 133 in an Ongoing Series

by Shaker The Chemist

[Trigger warning for objectification, hostility toward consent, and ableism.]

Okay, so I know that our consumer culture practically dictates that ads be plastered everywhere humans care to look. I don't necessarily accept it, but I've come to expect it. Just as I've come to expect that advertisers will try to take advantage of gender-related insecurities with product ads like "Summer's Eve: Now with New Car!" and "Volcano II: The MANCANO!" We all know that advertisers aren't shy about using women's bodies in their appeals, despite evidence that it doesn't work the way they think it does. Still, a new guerrilla marketing campaign by New Zealand firm DDB Auckland for the clothing chain Suprette crosses a hard and fast line regarding autonomy and consent.

According to Bestadsontv (uh-huh), via Copyranter:
With both men and women now wearing their shorts at breathtaking heights, fashion chain Superette was presented with a unique opportunity to draw attention to their sale on short shorts. DDB Auckland ads were placed on the virgin thighs that are exposed in this latest trend, by putting indented plates across the inner city and fashion district bus stops, mall seats and park benches, so that when people sat down the message was imprinted on their thighs.

What fuckery is this? I don't think I need to explain to this crowd why an ad agency deciding that your body is just free advertising space is wrong (apparently "guerrilla" now means using entrenched mainstream attitudes to your advantage), which is good because my brain is boggling so hard that you can hear it.

Instead, I can point out why You Can't Win. I can see the defenses now: "Sitting on a bench, dressed like that, means you're just asking for it. Oh! And also! What About the Men! They're getting butt-printed by us too! Hah! You wimmenz can't claim sexism now!" Of course, the nature of patriarchy means glossing over things like how society is trained to regard women as sex-objects. We are taught to ignore the fact that some women choose not to wear t-shirts that have words on them, since it's regarded by our patriarchal culture to be an invitation to ogle. Instead we're supposed to deride them as "too sensitive," rather than finding ogling men insufficiently sensitive toward the women they see in public.

Naturally, there's not a single thought given to people with disabilities, who may not have much choice in where they sit as they move through public space. Hey, there can't be that many of them, amirite?

I may not be a big fan of advertising everywhere, but I get that to some extent businesses should be able to solicit somewhere—just not on me, not on you, not without our consent.

I think that while it may be a losing battle to try to convince these businesses to stop what they're doing through a deconstruction of the arguments and rhetoric in ready supply in favor the kyriarchy, it's easy enough to threaten a business with closing your wallet. Which makes this is an excellent teaspoon opportunity.

You can write to DDB Auckland, and their client, Suprette, and let them know you object to having the added worry of planning your next seat in public. If you have friends in New Zealand and any other market where Suprette operates, you should see about getting them on board.

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