brands under fire

Roxy Rides a Wave of Social Backlash Over Sexy Video Ad

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 8, 2013 05:40 PM

Sexy; provocative; engaging; sexploitation: Those are just a few of the terms used to describe Roxy's new video ad for its upcoming women's surf contest.

The iconic female surfing and sporting brand has attracted some unsightly attention from its Roxy Pro Biarritz 2013 Teaser video, which was posted to YouTube in late June. The video, which is an ad for the company's famed European competition, features a blonde woman who is half-naked for most of the ad, while the camera focuses on her lower half and never once shows her face—or much surfing. The video asks viewers to guess who the female athlete in the video is—assuming fans can identify pro female surfers by their backsides. 

Consumer backlash ensued, but Roxy, in another 'brands on social media' case study, was quick to defend the sexy ad.

In a post on its Facebook page, Roxy said in response to criticism:

"All athletes are naturally beautiful, in and out of the water. You certainly don't have to be sexy to be an athlete, & we also believe it's not wrong to be an athlete and to be sexy, if you choose to be. We don't judge one to be better than the other & we don't believe in excluding one for the other. Thank you for the passionate thoughts shared on the video, & for expressing how much you respect women in surfing."

But fans and activists weren't quick to lie down. "It shouldn't be focused on a surfer's body or sex at all, it should be about their talent and athleticism and power," one user wrote. 

"It objectifies her, breaking her down into side-boob and bum shots. It avoids humanising her by NOT showing her face. This is sending a clear message about sex and sport and the value of women," another posted. (soft porny body parts) according to Roxy. How totally disappointing. You could do such good things, and you do this?! LAME," said another.

"This is disgusting. Just another ad for men. Where are the women surfing? Why aren't pro female surfers good enough to promote on their skill alone? Never seen a male surf comp promoted like this. Poor Form Roxy. Redo it!," read another. 

One user even drew a comparison between Roxy and the scandal-embroiled Abercrombie & Fitch, which recently came under fire for its overly sexualized ads and exclusionary clothing styles, asking, "Does Mike Jeffries work for Roxy now?"

Critics are vowing to boycott the brand that positions itself as one to appeal to young women. Catharine Lumby, a professor of media at Macquarie University in Australia said the ad belongs "in the 1970s." 

Ad exec and social commentator Jane Caro told Marketing Magazine Australia, "If I was them I would be feeling embarrassed, and I don’t think this is a smart piece of marketing at all. Female surfers are powerful, highly-skilled female athletes, and to control that you have to turn them all into Barbie dolls…"

Roxy is holding its ground though, saying that "women are complex and multi-dimensional. To ignore this fact is to ignore who we truly are." A bit of an odd stance for a brand that wants its fans to identify a surfer based solely on the shape of her body.


Riyaz Nizar Sri Lanka says:

Ladies become the face of every add now , but most of them are necked , if it is fine for them it is fine for us too, the biggest problem is, when these adds show up on the kids channel and when kids programs goes on, that we all need to stop.

July 9, 2013 05:49 AM #

Ed Kriese United States says:

Puleeeezz, they sell bikini's to young women...what are they supposed to do? Good PR for the brand anyway.

July 9, 2013 10:02 AM #

scallywag United States says:

Cause no one really cares about the surfing feats of the women being championed but rather their perky titties and ass. Which just might be another way of saying that’s what in the end really matters when it comes to being a woman or is it?

Then again as someone who grew up in Australia where everyone is fit and lean, what might be perceived sexist, elitist or objectification in many parts of the world is simply cause for celebrating for what many in Australia might find the ordinary, the obvious and the photogenically beautiful. That said one still wonders is a woman's worth the sum of her looks and perkiness or the sum of her accomplishments irrespective of the way she looks....?

July 9, 2013 03:00 PM #

Levi Haffner United States says:

a kid got suspended from school for having a Backstreet Boys cd in his car

July 15, 2013 06:43 PM #

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