Applying the ‘CHIPS Test’ in Europe

By Roz Hardie, Object Chief Executive Officer

Using the CHIPS Test, devised by Caroline Heldman in the USA, is one way of looking at media sexism.  Here’s how it could be applied to sexist ads, targeted at a European market.

The following ads all come from the UK and have come to the attention of WECAMS partner, Object.

1) Commodity: Does the image show a sexualised person as a commodity, for example, as something that can be bought and sold?

‘Become an escort’ An advert from the current issue of Zoo magazine, a lads’ mag which you can buy in many mainstream retailers e.g. Sainsbury’s.

zoo escort

Advert for Platinum select escort agency in Zoo magazine

2) Harmed: Does the image show a sexualised person being harmed, for example, being violated or unable to give consent?

This billboard advert was withdrawn by the venue itself, during the summer of 2014 after complaints, including from the Fawcett Society and Object. It shows a cartoon version of supermodel Kate Moss with a cartoon version of photographer Terry Richards inserting a gun between her buttocks. Several models have publicly alleged Terry Richards has sexually assaulted them.

dalston social

Billboard advert for a club in Hackney 2014.

3) Interchangeable: Does the image show a sexualiSed person as interchangeable, for example, a collection of similar bodies?

In March 2015, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint, by Object and members of the public, in the Daily Star which offered ‘a date with a page 3’ as a prize.  Presenting the women as ‘interchangeable’ was one element of the ruling.

page33

Pictures associated with the ‘Page 3 date’ Daily Star promotion

page 3 1 page32

4) PartsDoes the image show a sexualiSed person as body parts, for example, a human reduced to breasts or buttocks?

The ASA did not uphold Object’s complaint about the 2014 World Cup Pot Noodle promotion, parts of which focused on the bottoms of women on Brazilian beaches.

pot noodle 2

Pot Noodle advert from the World Cup 2014

5) Stand-In: Does the image present a sexualized person as a stand-in for an object, for example, a human body used as a chair or a table?

Spearmint Rhino on Tottenham Court Road in London is a lapdancing club which is currently offering diners the chance to eat from a woman’s naked body as if it were a table.

spearmint rhino sushi

Spearmint Rhino Gentleman’s Club promotion for Tottenham Court Road, Camden – March 2015. Advert for ‘naked sushi’ dining in which diners can eat food from a woman’s naked body.


CHIPS PLUS: Do we need to look at additional issues of dehumanisation and discrimination?

The CHIPS categories focus on sexual objectification and are a useful starting point.  But often other examples of prejudice and dehumanising stereotypes are part of the images too. For example, Object criticised the ‘Brazilian’ Pot Noodle promotion for linking in with sexualised racist stereotypes about people from Latin America.


SUGGESTED ACTIVITY

Why not set up a small discussion group to discuss this in your own community?

  • Talk about the ads shown here
  • What other examples are there of ads that meet the CHIPS test criteria?  
  • Are there other discriminatory elements?
  • What could you do about this?  Think about complaints direct to the promoter (successful at 2 above) or to the Advertising Standards Authority (successful at 3 but not at 4).  
  • What does good representation look like?
  • Can you help us to promote our petition?
Infographic French

WECAMS French Version

petition promoter

WECAMS English Version

infographic italian

WECAMS Italian version

Contact us on ido@object.org.uk and let us know how you get on.

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