Advert slammed for portraying women as ‘pure sex objects’

The Jack & Jones clothing retailer has been rapped by Sweden's advertising watchdog for a “sexist” ad campaign which utilised scantily clad women to market a line of men's clothing.

Advert slammed for portraying women as 'pure sex objects'

“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

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Recipe: How to make a Sweden-inspired colourful couscous salad

Couscous, fruit and beetroot combine in this colourful salad from Swedish food writer John Duxbury.

Recipe: How to make a Sweden-inspired colourful couscous salad
Fruity couscous salad with beetroot. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Swedes are great lovers of salads and make a considerable use of beetroot (beets) as they grow well in Sweden. In recent years they have also started to use couscous a lot, something that goes well with beetroot, and which now often features in Swedish salads.

Another feature about Swedish salads is that they often use fruit, sometimes just for added colour, but here the figs are a key ingredient.


Serves 8

Preparation: 10 Minutes

Cooking: 40 Minutes

Based on a recipe published by ICA in Sweden


•  Use pearl couscous if you can as it looks better and adds a bit of bite to the salad. Pearl couscous is sometimes referred to as jumbo couscous, Israeli couscous, mougrabieh, fregola or giant couscous, depending on where you live.

•  I have increased the amount of salad from 70 g to 150 g and the quantity of raisins from 30 g to 75 g, but you may prefer the original quantities.


600 g (1 1/4 lb) beetroot (beets)

200 g (1 1/4 cups) couscous

1 small red onion

3 fresh figs

75 g (1/2 cup) raisins

150 g (5 oz) mixed salad leaves


3 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, preferably white

1 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Trim most of the stalk from the beetroot, scrub, put them in a pan, cover with water, add some salt and bring to boil. Simmer until tender, which can take anything from 10 to 50 minutes depending on their size. When cool, peel and cut into small wedge.

2. Meanwhile cook the couscous according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and loosen with a fork if it is too sticky.

3. Peel the onion and slice thinly.

4. Halve the figs and slice thinly.

5. Mix all the ingredients in a large dish, keeping back some couscous, fig slices and raisins.

6. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together. Pour over the salad and toss.

7. Garnish with the remaining couscous, fig slices and raisins.

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food