29 January 2016

The Australian Christian Lobby today called for an overhaul of advertising regulations after the Advertising Standards Board sat on a complaint for weeks, reserving its decision until January 20 - long after Christmas was over."

The complaint, lodged by Australian Christian Lobby Queensland Director Wendy Francis, related to a sexualised Christmas-themed poster by lingerie store chain, Honey Birdette.

Mrs Francis said two posters depicted Santa in poses with a scantily clad woman. The Advertising Standards Board upheld a complaint against one poster which had a lingerie-clad woman standing over a gagged and bound Santa.

“While we feel vindicated by the decision by the Advertising Standards Board, it typically takes weeks to reach a decision. Even once a decision has been made, the advertiser can appeal, delaying the process even more – all while the advertisement is allowed to remain on display,” Mrs Francis said.

“The current practices of the Advertising Standards Board do not reflect the short-run time frame of most advertising campaigns.”

Mrs Francis said Honey Birdette had previously ignored a warning from the self-regulator.

“The longer this imagery remains the more it will erode the public’s faith in the advertising watchdog whose warnings are ineffective and routinely ignored,” she said.

In its submission to the Board, Honey Birdette seemed unperturbed, lauding the success of its campaign.

“During this Christmas period we experienced our strongest sales ever. The two lingerie sets that were displayed in the signage had one of the highest rate of sale that we have seen,” Honey Birdette told the regulator.

Mrs Francis said while sex sells, we are selling out our children’s innocence and women’s dignity.

“The system is broken. The Advertising Standards Board has no power to enforce its own decisions and is too slow at responding to complaints,” she said.

“We call on governments to introduce penalties for advertisers who refuse to abide by community standards and for the self-regulatory body to be timelier in its decisions.”