Norwegian ice cream company broke rules with use of lightly-clothed women in ads

Norwegian ice cream company broke rules with use of lightly-clothed women in ads
Illustration photo: Sarah Gualtieri on Unsplash
Oslo ice cream stand Monky’s Bubble Waffle broke Norwegian advertising laws by using lightly-clothed young women to promote its products, according to a consumer watchdog.

In using images of the women to promote its products, Monky’s Bubble Waffle, a stand at the popular Oslo Street Food, was in breach of advertising laws against sexual discrimination, according to the Forbrukertilsynet watchdog.

The story was initially reported by Norwegian media Nettavisen.

Last month, the company came in for criticism on social media for its choice of pictures in an advertising campaign.

Some of those complaints were made formal, with at least 20 filed with Forbrukertilsynet.

The complaints revolved around the sexualisation of young women and use of the hashtag #foodporn in the images, VG writes.

The watchdog has since concluded that the ads were in breach of advertising laws and has sent a reprimand to the company including guidelines on sexual discrimination in advertising.

“In our opinion, it is clear that the photos you have used in your marketing on Instagram were in violation of the ban on sexually discriminating advertising,” Forbrukertilsynet wrote to the company, according to Nettavisen.

The ads themselves showed lightly-clothed women holding ice cream cones. Critics challenged the company over the images, saying young women’s bodies and ice creams are unrelated.

“(This) sexualises young women’s bodies to sell ice creams. I think it’s a crazy mistake and disgusting,” Norwegian influencer Isabel Raad, one of the most vocal critics of the ads, told VG.

After criticism on its Instagram page escalated, the company eventually apologised for the photos as well its response to the initial criticism. The photos have also been deleted from the company’s Instagram page.

The founder of the company, reported to be responsible for large parts of its marketing strategy, has since left, posting a text on Instagram in which he apologised for his actions. He wrote that that the criticism “has caused me great mental stress and my intention was not for it to escalate the way it did or to insult or offend anyone here”.

A repeat of the offence could result on Forbrukertilsynet banning ads and fining the company, according to Nettavisen’s report.

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