Australia: Following failure to thwart Nando's offensive ad, women set with alternative campaign Print E-mail
The Sun-Herald ~~ Sydney ~~ Sunday July 22 2007

Women on warpath

Under attack ... the Nando's ad.

Deborah Gough and Sam Freestone

AFTER a failed attempt to ban a Nando's chicken advertisement, a women's organisation is gunning for the Advertising Standards Board.

The Women's Forum Australia will launch a campaign to have the Advertising Standards Board overhauled, saying its decisions do not reflect the wider community's standards, particularly on the exploitation of women.

After the board dismissed 200 complaints about the "Nando's Fix" advertisement showing a mother as a pole dancer, the forum will ask its 2000 members to demand from their local members of Parliament an overhaul of the board.

The forum is made up of women from across Australian society, including business leaders, academics from all fields and mothers.

Next month the forum will also attempt to beat the magazine world at its own game, using a glossy magazine format to present extensive research on the effect of the media's sexualised images and the messages it sends out to girls and women.

The magazine-style publication, called Faking It, will be launched next month in Melbourne.

The forum was set up 18 months ago to enhance the dignity, rights and wellbeing of women. Its founding director, Melinda Tankard Reist, said the issue of sexualised women and girls had galvanised women and encouraged more to join the forum.

"This is a really compelling issue for women and girls," Ms Tankard Reist said. "Even though we all knew the issue was out there, often you can think you are alone, but when the information is presented and the research is in front of you, it becomes undeniable that something needs to be done."

Faking It's introduction says magazines portray women as sexual objects and encourage women and girls to reject traditional roles in favour of independence, but still tell them to sexually satisfy men.

The foundation also criticises magazines for instructing teenage girls on how to make themselves desirable in order to get a boyfriend.

Playboy and Cosmopolitan present the same idea about sex, says Faking It, namely that women exist as decoration and to sexually satisfy men.

Girls and women can be affected by these messages, the research paper says, and this can contribute to reduced self-esteem, lower abilities at intellectual tasks, less physically active lives, self harm, depression, eating disorders and sexual disorders.

Faking It will be distributed through the forum's website, but Ms Tankard Reist said she hoped it would also be available through high schools.

Estelle Sydney-Smith, a member of the forum who is running the campaign against the Advertising Standards Board, said the board's decisions were not reflective of the depth of opinion on the issue of exploitation of women.

She said the forum disagreed with the statement from Nando's that open displays of sexuality, such as pole dancing, were empowering.

The advertisement's co-producer Helene Nicol, of company The Guild of Commercial Filmmakers, said she admired the script for the advertisement. "It's that water cooler talk that every advertising company hopes for."

The Nando's management was not available for comment yesterday but in defence of its advertisement to the Advertising Standards Board it said: "This commercial is intended to be humorous and a parody. It is proving extremely popular with our target audience, the great majority of whom understand and appreciate Nando's irreverent sense of humour."