updated 7 Jan 2012, 09:12
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The New Paper
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Sexy ads planned for controversy

Huge advertising billboards in shopping districts are designed to attract eyeballs.

The more attractive the ads, the better.

And these days, the more controversial they are, the more attention they get. Never mind the negative comments they draw - the products get etched in people's minds.

Like the Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) billboard on Orchard Road.

Like supermodel Gisele Bündchen's new ad campaign for lingerie label Hope in faraway Brazil, the land of G-strings and the Brazilian wax.

Politicians are demanding that the "sexist" and "stereotyped" ads be axed, London daily The Guardian reported.

The campaign includes several TV spots, one of which features a scantily-clad Bündchen trying to appease her husband after committing a series of marital blunders: crashing his car, maxing his credit card and, worst of all, inviting his mother-in-law to stay.

Her solution? To seduce her furious spouse while wearing Hope's new line of lingerie.

The ad's voice-over tells viewers: "You're a Brazilian woman - use your charm."

Officials from the women's secretariat in the capital, Brasilia, did not see the funny side of the ad.

Instead, they were livid that it was allowed to be shown on TV, the report said.

The secretariat said that the campaign promotes the misguided stereotype of a woman as a sex object of her husband and "ignores the major advances we have achieved in deconstructing sexist practices and thinking".

Officials said they received at least six complaints from outraged viewers since the advertisement went on air late last month.

But Hope has hit back, saying the campaign was "never intended to come across as sexist".

The controversy comes about nine months after equal opportunity campaigners commemorated the election of Brazil's first woman president, Ms Dilma Rousseff.

The 1.8m-tall Bündchen, who is tipped to become the world's first billionaire supermodel, has yet to comment on the furore.

As late as last month, A&F had run into another controversy when it offered to pay cast members of the trashy-and-proud MTV reality show Jersey Shore to not wear its clothes on air.

The teen clothing retailer said it would pay a "substantial" sum to Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino or any cast member to stop wearing its clothing on the show because the series is "contrary to the aspirational nature of the brand", Reuters reported. Sorrentino's nickname is a reference to his six-pack abs.

Analysts slammed the move as a publicity stunt.

Mr Drew Kerr, a public relations consultant in New York, said it reminded him of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt offering famous people millions of dollars to pose for the magazine.

A&F is a mass-market brand that targets teenagers and is not shy about controversy.

When it opened its Paris store earlier this year, it paraded shirtless models along the Champs-Elysees before the police shut down the show.

Meanwhile, in San Rafael, California, a mall has been flooded with complaints about its new play area for tots. Right next door is Victoria's Secret, a lingerie brand famous for ads featuring sexily-clad models.

In a playground meant for kids shorter than 90cm, a parade of 36C breasts doesn't exactly top the list of what parents want for a backdrop.

One mother, Ms Susan Zelinsky, told local TV station ABC7 News: "I was thinking, 'This is great!', then I looked up and right behind it were nine half-nude pictures of women."

She said her two small girls had a lot of questions about the life-size illuminated billboards.

She said: "They asked, 'Why are they naked, mummy?' And it was uncomfortable, but these are questions you're going to get from your children."

Ms Zelinsky has filed a complaint and started a page on Facebook. About 100 people have commented on it, she told the TV station.

The people planning the spacious indoor playground more than a year ago had no idea that the lingerie label was negotiating a lease there too.

The mall has installed decorative trees to cover the billboards. But some parents are not impressed, saying that the trees don't go far enough.

Ms Zelinsky said she wishes Victoria's Secret would just advertise robes or pyjamas instead.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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