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Aussie councilor pushes to ban ‘pornographic’ ads in shopping center display

Popular lingerie brand Honey Birdette has once again been criticized over its public advertising displays in shopping centers which, in the past, have been deemed “pornographic” and inappropriate — with new calls for a widespread ban.

The “bondage, sexy toy and fetish-themed retailer,” which is owned by Playboy, has reportedly breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers Code of Ethics “more than 60 times,” claims City of Sydney Councilor Linda Scott, who is now calling for a ban on highly sexual displays in public view.

Councilor Scott has taken aim at the Broadway Shopping Center store in Sydney’s inner west which she says is just meters from a children’s retailer, Lego. Honey Birdette’s advertising often depicts women wearing bondage-style corsets and underwear — a clear breach of the Code’s Section 2.4 – sex, sexuality and nudity, the councilor points out.

Previously, the Ad Standards Community Panel found the window ads “present women as sex objects” and were “overtly sexual and inappropriate for display in a public space.” Since 2010, Ad Standards has investigated over 160 complaints about Honey Birdette promotions, according to Collective Shout, a group that rallies “against the objectification of women and the sexualization of girls in media, advertising and popular culture.”

Collective Shout, has been campaigning against the “objectified” images for years and is in full support of a widespread ban, movement director Melinda Tankard Reist told Yahoo News Australia. She said the “blatantly sexualized depictions of women” are “doing real harm” saying it condoms the mistreatment of women.

The Honey Birdette window displays are usually in public spaces, mostly in shopping centers across the country. Source: Getty/Honey Birdette

Councilor Scott told the Daily Telegraph that “women should be safe, and feel safe, in our city,” condemning the explicit nature of the ads regularly displayed in the windows of its stores across the country.

“In light of the rise in domestic violence and public attacks against women in Sydney, I’m even more determined to take action to ensure advertising images depicting violent acts against women aren’t displayed prominently in our local shopping centres,” Scott told the publication.

“Companies such as Honey Birdette have been able to exploit loopholes in voluntary advertising codes to display pornographic and violent images of women for too long.”

City of Sydney Councilor Linda Scott is on the war path. Source: Facebook

It’s understood Ad Standards Australia has been attempting to order the lingerie brand to comply for many years, however, Ad Standards boss Richard Bean said Honey Birdette presents a “unique challenge”. He said they do not accept that the complaints “raise legitimate issues and control their advertising medium.”

“This financial year, Honey Birdette has been found in breach of the AANA Code of Ethics six times, and received 14 complaints in 2024 that were linked to 11 ads,” he said.

Yahoo News Australia reached out to Councilor Scott, Ad Standards Australia and Honey Birdette for comment.

Collective Shout has long condemned the racy images. Previously, one image showed a topless model with gold pasties over her nipples — an image they liked to porn. Nothing has changed since, claims Collective Shout Campaigns Manager Caitlin Roper.

“We have decades of research documenting how sexualized and objectifying representations of women contribute to men’s violence against women,” she said in a statement last month, following another violation.

“We are in the midst of a national epidemic of violence against women, yet Honey Birdette delivers up one ad after another portraying women as things existing for men’s sexual use. Ad industry self-regulation has facilitated this. We need a complete overhaul of the system.”

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