“The Swedish Advertising Ombudsman (Reklamombudsmannen, RO) Jury finds that the commercial is sexist. It therefore violates Article 4 of the International Chamber of Commerce’s rules for advertising and marketing communications,” the ombudsman wrote in a statement on Monday.
The ombudsman took up the case following a number of complaints who took issue with Jack & Jones for using scantily clad women who “lacked any connection” to the men’s clothing products being marketed.
In addition to in-store posters, the campaign features a commercial in which a woman in a jogging suit warns, “The new spring collection from Jack & Jones has turned out to have some unfortunate side effects that we didn’t anticipate.”
The ad then cuts to a scene in which a man is lying passed out on a bed surrounded by three women dressed in nothing but bras and panties.
In the next scene, a bare-chested man lying in bed is straddled by a blond woman in her underwear who appears to be trying to revive him before leaning down to blow on the man’s crotch.
The woman who appeared at the start of the commercial reappears later wearing a bikini and performing aerobic exercises in which she urges viewers to join the company’s “get in shape and ready for action online fitness club”.
Most complainants argued the adverts amounted to “offensive” and “objectifyingly sexist stereotypes of both men and women”.
Others complained that the Jack & Jones campaign also discriminated against homosexuals because it only showed heterosexual situations.
While Jack & Jones, a brand owned by Denmark-based clothing company Bestseller A/S, said it regretted offending anyone, it nevertheless defended the campaign, arguing that the ad was produced “in a humourous and exaggerated way”.
“The thought behind the campaign isn’t to discriminate against men or women, but rather it is a humourous explanation as to why it’s so popular to wear clothing from Jack & Jones,” the company wrote.
It argued further that the commercial’s irony is “obvious” and that it “plays on well-known stereotypes of men and women which – at least in Scandinavia – were abandoned decades ago”.
But the company’s humour and irony was nevertheless lost on the jury at Sweden’s advertising watchdog, which issued a unanimous ruling condemning the campaign.
“Through their clothing and poses, the women are portrayed as pure sex objects and in a way that can be considered offensive to women in general,” the jury wrote in its ruling.
“In an overall assessment, the committee finds that the advertisment can be considered offensive and that the conventions expressed in it give a stereotypical view of gender roles which is degrading to both women and men.”
See the Jack & Jones commercial below