Thai G-string ad ‘is sexist’

Icelandic photo agency Nordic Photos has landed itself in trouble for an ad featuring a Swedish businessman sitting at a bar in Thailand surrounded by young women in skimpy underwear.

The accompanying text reads: “Swedish bosses have more international experience than their Nordic neighbours”.

Nordic Photos’ Managing Director, Arnaldur Gauti Johnson, is perplexed by the strong reaction to an ad campaign that was sent out to a closed group of around 3,000 people in the media industry.

“First of all we are extremely sorry that we offended anyone. The campaign was intended as a light way of making fun of stereotypes and there was certainly no harm intended,” he told The Local.

Now the company must await an advisory ruling by the Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK).

“We have had a total of eight complaints but the ad was only reported by one person, a lady who was very angry,” said Johnson.

The photograph at the centre of the controversy was selected from the company’s vast image archive. The picture was taken by Dutch photographer Paul van Rield in Bangkok’s sex district, Pat Pong.

While Nordic Photos cannot now take the campaign back, Johnson says that they have learned from the experience and will certainly not run the ad again.

ERK secretary Jan Fager confirmed that the organisation had received an official complaint on Wednesday.

“The person who complained thinks that the ad is discriminatory and that it diminishes both women and Swedish male executives.

“According to the complaint, the ad objectifies women and gives the impression of businessmen as potential sex buyers,” he told The Local.

Fager expects ERK to make a decision on the appropriateness of the campaign in April at the latest.

ERK is a self-regulating, private body that has existed since 1988. The organisation bases its decisions on the ICC International Code of Advertising Practise, but has also added three supplements to the ICC’s Article 4 dealing with sexism.