No shame for Harvey Nichols’ ‘walk of shame’ advert
The UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has cleared retail giant Harvey Nichols following complaints about a controversial ‘Walk of Shame’ advert.
Last Christmas the firm uploaded an ad onto You Tube which urged women to “turn a Walk of Shame into a Stride of Pride” – by wearing an expensive dress from their store.
It also encouraged women to share their stories on Twitter via the hashtag, #walkofshame.
The ASA said the ad showed several women in evening wear making their way home in the early morning, apparently after a night out, looking dishevelled and, well, ashamed.
This was followed by some on-screen text which stated “Avoid the Walk of Shame this Season”, followed by footage of a smartly-dressed woman approaching the entrance of a flat and confidently acknowledging a postman.
The ASA received four complaints in total.
One argued the ad was sexist because “it reinforced negative stereotypes of women, and in particular those women who chose to have casual sex”.
Another thought the ripped tights alluded to sexual violence, while others claimed the advert suggested that “lower class women who had one-night stands should feel shame, whilst more wealthy women who behaved in the same way should feel proud”.
Harvey Nichols denied that the advert was a reference to casual sex, claiming the women featured could have easily stayed at a friend’s.
They also denied any connection with sexual violence or social class, having “deliberately selected a mixed cast of characters”.
The retailer claimed instead that the advert was intended “to raise a smile by reminding people of a familiar hazard of the Christmas party season”.
They also pointed to the ratio of likes to dislikes to the YouTube video, which currently stands at 1,304:226.
The ASA decided that “some people might find the theme of the ad distasteful, but we concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence” and that no further action was therefore required.
What do you think?