In a ruling issued on Wednesday, the Swedish Advertising Ombudsman (Reklamombudsmannen – RO) said that a campaign which referred to the Friggs-brand Naturdiet Shake as a “Milfshake” wasn’t “offensive, sexist, stereotying, or in any other way degrading” toward women.
The case was referred to the watchdog’s jury following several complaints which pointed out that the term “milf” is a common slang abbreviation for “mother/mom I’d like to fuck”.
According to one complaint, the advert was deliberately playing on the term and was therefore “degrading to women”.
Another complainant wrote that the ad was offensive because ‘milf’ is used as a “collective term for women who, despite having had children and no longer being young, are still attractive and, in a younger man’s eyes, sexy”.
A third complaint argued that the Friggs ad was sexist because it implied that women who have had children should care for their bodies in a manner that “keeps them sexually attractive”.
Friggs responded to the complaints by explaining that the ad was directed toward women between 30- and 45-years-old who are interested in losing weight and that many people who use the Naturdiet Shakes do so to “stay in shape and feel attractive”.
The company added that it believed most of the target audience for the product “understands and appreciates the play on the modern pop-culture term ‘milf’”.
“The fact that the term ‘milf’ had its origins as a term used in the porn industry, but which has been ‘kidnapped’ in a positive way by regular people” was one of the reasons why Friggs chose to use the term in the advert.
The company added, however, that it was sorry if the campaign bothered some consumers.
The Advertising Ombudsman jury, agreed with the company’s reasoning, ruling that the ad didn’t violate the Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
“The jury finds that the expression “milf” in connection with the image of the product indicates that this is a product for women who want to be considered sexually attractive. However, the jury doesn’t believe the presentation gives an impression which can be considered offensive to the average consumer to an extent that violates the ICC’s rules,” the jury wrote in its findings.
In addition, the ad lacks any other material which could be considered offensive. The jury also argued that the use of the term “milfshake” was likely considered as “humourous”.
“Because no women is portrayed in the advert, the jury doesn’t find that the advert portrays women as pure sex objects in a way that can be considered offensive,” the jury wrote.