In Monterrey, Mexico, a group of influential women, offended by Wonderbra ads of a sexy blonde model flaunting her cleavage, forced Sara Lee Corp.-owned Playtex to dress her in a low-cut blouse and blazer.
The protesters, described by Playtex Marketing Assistant Susana Navarrete as influential with Monterrey's government leaders, first complained to the outdoor boards' owners. The companies passed on the complaints to Playtex's local ad agency, Perez Munoz Publicidad, which referred them to Playtex's marketing department and its director, Guillermo Fierro.
The women threatened to boycott Playtex brassieres unless the company covered up Czech model Eva Herzegova's partly exposed breasts. Ms. Navarrete said the group issued statements to newspapers, and the protest was taken up by women in Guadalajara.
As a result, Playtex added more clothes to the model in three outdoor boards in Monterrey and three in Guadalajara. Five boards in Mexico City were not affected.
TBWA is handling the worldwide campaign, but isn't in charge of the Mexican campaign.
Ms. Navarrete insists the protests were real, but admits that the controversy generated a lot of publicity for the product.
Meanwhile, sensitive U.K. citizens last month filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority, London, raising objections to a b&w outdoor board campaign that began May 22 for the "no seams, no lines" Glossies bra from Gossard Holdings. Created by Abbott Mead Vickers/ BBDO, London, the ad also is displayed in Germany, France and Italy.
It shows a sultry model lying on her back in grass and wearing only her underwear, including the Glossies bra. The copy says: "Who said women can't get pleasure from something soft."
The protests come just months after British consumers complained about an arguably pro-vocative Wonderbra ad, similar to the one protested in Mexico. So far, only British consumers have voiced disapproval of the Glossies campaign, which is only using outdoor boards. Complaints range from its negative portrayal of women to its image being inappropriate for children.
"In terms of numbers, it is among the most vociferous complaints we've received so far this year," said an authority spokes-man. "The fact that we're investigating them [after deciding that the Wonderbra did not flout ASA codes], shows the ASA council is very concerned."
Gossard Marketing Director Laura Cannon said despite the ASA's decision not to uphold the complaint, the controversy was useful because it raised debate.
Abbott Mead, as yet, is unrepentant.
"Glossies is very different from the [conventional] cleavage bra because it is very soft and very sensuous," said Sue Garrard, Abbott Mead board director. "It is completely see-through, the closest to not wearing a bra at all, and the ad has been very successful."
She said the copy was aimed at showing women how sensuous the product is, and was not meant as "a cheap gag for men."