The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has cleared a Unilever advertisement after complaints of sexualisation.
A recent ad for Streets Ice-Creams depicts a Bubble-O Bill ice-cream saying to a bikini-wearing Splice, “I can see your white bits”.
One complainant said that because Bubble-O Bill is a cowboy with a moustache, he is “clearly an older man” while the Splice is “meant to be a woman and young”.
“An old man saying ‘I can see your white bits’ is shamanistic, and voyeuristic and just disgusting,” the complainant said.
“It is inappropriate in general, but for an ad aimed at children, the target market for ice cream, it is just unbelievable.”
Unilever responded with the argument that the ad did not target children, as the billboards and public transport positioning were outdoor media viewed by the general public.
“We submit that the context of the Advertisement and the language used are well within prevailing community standards and that the Advertisement complies with the Children’s Code and the Code of Ethics,” a spokesperson for Unilever said.
The case report stated that “white bits” was a reference to a woman’s ‘pink bits’, an oblique reference to female genitalia, however the ASB argued that the advertisement was not in breach of the code because the reference was made to the “white bits” of a bikini tan line.
“The Board noted the complainants’ concerns that the advertisement features an image of an ice-cream wearing a bikini which is offensive as it doesn’t have a head whereas the male ice-cream does, and the reference to ‘white bits’ is sexualised and inappropriate,” the report said.
“The Board noted that the image is of two ice-creams and considered that you cannot be degrading to a food item and there is no suggestion that the ice-creams are intended to be representative of human beings as they are clearly depicted as recognisable frozen produce.”
The advertisement was part of a series of risque billboard ads, which included one in which Bubble-O Bill addresses a Golden Gaytime by name, “Gaytime”, which responds “Whoa there, Cowboy!” Another ad features a Calipo who says the new boss, a Bubble-O Bill, has “a stick up his…”.