Using women’s bums & a leery, anthropomorphic ‘towel guy’ to advertise a World Cup themed snack

Some sexist adverts are just absurd as well as offensive.

Roz Hardie, Chief Executive Officer at Object

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‘Paul the towel guy’; the brand tying itself to the persona of a lecherous man who sits on the beach, staring at women’s bums.

During the 2014 World Cup there was considerable public concern about sex tourism in Brazil.  ‘Its a penalty’  was one campaign run with the support of the England men’s football team, looking at the specific issue of the sexual abuse of Brazilian children in prostitution.

However, Brazil’s concern’s about sexualisation and exploitation of its citizens did not stop some brands trying to use puns about ‘scoring’ as in goals with references to ‘scoring’ as in sexual conquest.

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T-shirts withdrawn by Adidas after formal complaints by Brazilian Government

Adidas stopped the sale of ‘Looking to score’ T-shirts after a personal intervention by Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff  who asked for sexual stereotypes of Brazilians to be stopped.   The country’s tourism minister said: “any links between national icons and images with sex appeal” were against the country’s official marketing policies. “Such an attitude indirectly contributes to committing crimes such as sexual child and adolescent exploitation.”

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One of the worst UK market offenders was the Unilever Brand Pot Noodle, featuring ‘Paul  the Towel Guy’, an anthropomorphic ‘towel’ sex tourist who leered at partially clad women on Brazilian beaches with slogans like “I like to fork on the beach”  and “life’s a beach and I intend to sit on it.” With a tie in to Zoo magazine helping to promote the brand, the lads mags market were encouraged to engage with the product through meme generators, enabling more explicit messages to be promoted.

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Pot Noodle’s Brazilian BBQ world cup rebrand targeted readers of Lads Mag, Zoo.

In the past the UK Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints about Pot Noodle for sexist advertising  However on this occasion, it was disappointing that Object’s complaint about this world cup campaign was not upheld.

We are using it as one case study for our #NoToSexistAds petition which is taking off on Change, alongside other examples from elsewhere in Europe of women’s body-parts being used to sell products which have nothing to do with women’s bodies.