A Swedish basket case

Via John Lawler, this February 2 news from Sweden (in The Local: Sweden’s News in English):

Swedish body finds ‘Boxer’-clad
cartoon ‘offensive to men’

The Swedish Advertising Ombudsman (Reklamombudsmannen — RO) has ruled as sexist an advert for [cable] TV operator Boxer featuring its animated pin up Robert dressed only in boxer shorts.

“The man is presented through his posture and lack of clothing as a mere sex object in a way that could be deemed offensive to men in general,” the ombudsman wrote in a statement.

The advert, which shows the computer-generated image of Robert lying seductively on sheep skins clad only in cotton boxer shorts with an outline of his oversized sex organ clearly defined, was reported to the ombudsman by a individual.

In the report to the ombudsman the complainant argued that the “focus on the organ and its size had nothing to do with the product and even if that was the case, is no way to portray either a man or a woman”.

The complaint also detailed the pressure that such a portrayal could impose on the advert’s male audience.

“The figure’s excessively muscular body and the large organ is a stereotype and an unrealistic depiction of a man which creates pressure for both younger and elder men.”

… despite Boxer’s insistence of the innocence of its “folksy” virtual spokesperson, the ombudsman reached the conclusion that the advert could be considered sexist and as such was in breach of Article 4 of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Consolidated Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication.

Note that the photo is labeled “Boxerpaket” — boxer shorts (a play on the company name Boxer) with a (big) paket (‘packet, package’, i.e. genitals).

I haven’t been able to find out what the sanctions for sexist advertising are in Sweden.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S. we celebrate “underwear gods” — DeLillo quote here, illustrations here.


One Response to “A Swedish basket case”

  1. irrationalpoint Says:

    “I haven’t been able to find out what the sanctions for sexist advertising are in Sweden.”

    It sounds like the sanction is just having the advertisement withdrawn. In the UK, it’s only if the advertiser continues to run an advertisement that has been declared indecent or dishonest that there can be some kind of fine, and it’s hard to tell if that’s the same in Sweden from the Reklamombudsmannen English language pages, but it seems a roughly comparable adjudication process, and I’d be surprised if the sanctions were different.

    (Is it point-missing to say that women are habitually portrayed in advertising in “seductive” poses, wearing very little, and with an emphasis on breasts and hips that “[has] nothing to do with the product” which potentially exerts unrealistic pressure on women; but when have complaints about the sexualisation/objectification of women been taken seriously by Advertising Ombudsmen? There is a sociolinguistics paper about this sort of double standard in UK advertising, incidentally.)


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