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Swiss bikini advert for cigars ruled ‘sexist’

Malcolm Curtis · 29 Jan 2013, 21:25

Published: 29 Jan 2013 21:25 GMT+01:00

The commission (Schweizerische Lauterkeitscommission) ruled that Villiger Cigars broke Swiss advertising rules by portraying women in a sexist way.

The ad shows the bosomy women standing together in the shallow end of a swimming pool wearing red, blue, black and green bikinis that match the colours of different cigar tube containers shown separately.

Beneath the photo is a slogan, which roughly translated from the German says: Variety is  pleasure (abwechslung macht freude).

Below the slogan are pictures of the cigar tubes.

Responding to a complaint brought by an unidentified party, the commission found that the image discriminated against women.

In the summary of its ruling, published on its website, the commission said the women have nothing to do with the product being promoted and are used only in an “eye-catching way”.

The women are not smoking cigars and there is “no relation between the women and the tobacco” and therefore the advertising is sexist, the commission said.

It recommended the company withdraw the advert.

The commission did not say where the advertising was shown and Villiger has yet to respond publicly to the ruling.

Founded in 1966, the commission is run by the Swiss advertising industry as a form of self-regulation meant to prevent false or unethical advertising.

The commission includes representatives for consumers and the advertising and media industries.

The body says it respects a code established by the International Chamber of Commerce and aims in part to protect consumers.

Villiger Cigars is a family-run company established in Pfeffikon in the canton of Lucerne in1888, where it is still headquartered.

The company says that it produces 1.2 billion cigars a year.

An image of the full advert can be seen below:

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

2013-01-30 03:47:10 by Doz
Red is a nice flavor :)
2013-01-30 10:46:56 by Gregory P
I do not believe this to be "sexist", but the commission should rightfully remove this ad. Clearly they are using sex to sell, and they might as well put a picture of a vagina on thier ads if all they are trying to do is get eyeballs on thier ads.

The company and the advertising agency that promotes this can only be called one thing: Pathetic.
2013-01-30 21:48:15 by Global Macro
George Orwell called it the Ministry of Truth. Switzerland calls it the “truth in advertising commission.” The only redeeming factor is that this commission is an industry self-regulatory body and not a government agency.

The action of the commission was an outrageous abridgement of freedom of speech. Assuming that there is a proper role in ferreting out advertising which is untruthful, the findings of the Ministry of Truth are preposterous gibberish. There is not a single fact or finding of the commission that the advertisement was untruthful.

The finding of the commission is indefensible for many reasons. First, why is it assumed that it is a proper role for this agency to ferret out untruthful cigar advertisers and bring them before the bar of the truth commission? Are not cigar customers sufficiently intelligent and sophisticated in these matters to be able to distinguish between a legitimate cigar advertisement and one that attempts to confuse and mislead them with photographs of attractive women? Drat! I never would have purchased those cigars but for that blue bikini. Just at the critical moment when I was making a decision about what kind of cigar to purchase, I thought of that blue bikini and became totally confused and flustered. Something needs to be done about this!

And what is a legitimate cigar advertisement anyway? I suppose the non-governmental bureaucrats serving on this commission would try to justify this abridgement of free speech by saying that the advertisement is untruthful because it is sexist. Would the advertisement have passed muster if the women were all fat? So, if cigar maker plants these stogies between the lips of six female sumo wrestlers, would the formerly illegitimate, sexist advertisement suddenly become entirely appropriate?

Or perhaps cigars can be sold only by very masculine men. How about lumberjacks? Yes, apparently in the eyes of the truth commission only a very masculine cigar chomping lumberjack is qualified to advertise cigars. That’s it! Fire all of these women, put them all on the unemployment line, and round up all of the out-of-work lumberjacks for cigar commercials.

How is it the proper role of the Ministry of Truth to sanction advertisements that are sexist? Maybe more men smoke cigars than women. Maybe the cigar company is trying to present its advertising message to men in an attractive way by associating its cigars with attractive women. That is a sensible and legitimate advertising strategy. So that is now now permitted in Switzerland? What gibberish!

“Responding to a complaint brought by an unidentified party, the commission found that the image discriminated against women.” The commission said the women have nothing to do with the product being promoted and are used only in an “eye-catching way”. The women are not smoking cigars and there is “no relation between the women and the tobacco” and therefore the advertising is sexist…” Of course they discriminate against women. Women don’t buy cigars. If more women would buy cigars, the advertiser would be more than happy to advertise the cigars with attractive men.

And finally I must point out that the truth commission’s allegation included factual assertions that cannot stand under close scrutiny. “The commission ruled that Villiger Cigars broke Swiss advertising rules by portraying women in a sexist way. The ad shows the bosomy women standing together in the shallow end of a swimming pool wearing red, blue, black and green bikinis that match the colours of different cigar tube containers shown separately.”

These are not “bosomy” women. Yes, they are very attractive women, but they are not “bosomy” women. Believe me, I know a bosomy woman when I see one. I have been studying this subject for many years, and I believe that I am as well qualified as any truth commission to opine on this subject.

We laugh because this commission’s finding was so utterly ludicrous. But any abridgment of freedom of speech should be taken seriously. If they can tell you that your cigar advertisement is illegal, they can tell you that many other expressions of speech or opinion are also illegal.
2013-03-09 07:39:16 by vinesnob
What a joke! I thought Swiss and other Europeans weren't as prude or offended by "sexy images" as much as Americans. That's what this is, as sexy image, not sexism. Sexism is defined by Wikipedia as: ".... is prejudice or discrimination based on a person's sex."

Who's prejudging here, who's discriminating ?
"Sex sells" is as old as advertising itself. Those spineless, gutless wonders of the commission should stand up to one person being possibly offended by it. These days you can always find somebody that's offended by something, anything.

It's not like those images are pornographic, but they are simple attractive models like we see on every newsstand magazine or every other car ad on TV or whatever. Now, because it's Cigars that a bunch of beautiful women are enticing us men to buy, that's sexist ? Grow up people!

Next thing, we'll introduce Sharia Law in Switzerland and throw black sacks over all our women, because gosh... some men might become aroused.
I really thought we'd outgrown the Victorian prude era in Europe.
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