World window display in Victoria St, Wellington


World window display in Victoria St, Wellington

A new marketing campaign by a high-end fashion brand World has been labelled as “reductive and insulting”, but the chain is unmoved.

World’s latest campaign, which features window displays in shops in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, reads: “Things women love to hear: 1) I Love You, 2) That’s On Sale.”

And while it may seem like a simple marketing strategy, two Wellington women believe the fashion brand is “behind the times” and have raised concerns over the “insulting” wording.

Fashion designer Denise L'Estrange-Corbet..


Fashion designer Denise L’Estrange-Corbet..

However, World co-founder Denise L’Estrange-Corbet says they need to get a sense of humour.

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“Women are wildly different individuals with different loves, interests, ambitions and desires,” campaigner Zoe Higgins said in an email to World.

“To see public statements like [this] advertising display, which imply that all women are the same, is upsetting and disappointing.”

Higgins asked the displays be removed, and wanted assurance that similar advertising campaigns would not be pursued in the future.

“Statements like the ones in [this] advertising display contribute directly to a culture that does not take women seriously, and sees their main ambitions in life as romantic love and shopping,” she said.

“I’m disappointed that World, as a company which serves largely female customers, thinks so little of the women who buy [these] products.”

In a email responding to a campaign backer in Dunedin, L’Estrange-Corbet said she would not remove the wording from the shop windows.

“May I suggest you try getting a sense of humour, as this was not done in any way to demean or belittle women, and thank goodness we live in a country of free speech – you have had yours, and I have had mine.”

Phoebe Balle, who was campaigning alongside Higgins, said she was disappointed with L’Estrange-Corbet’s response.

“In my mind it’s a way of side-stepping on social responsibility…

“It’s disheartening to see a successful women like Denise dismiss our legitimate concerns with the same ‘Can’t you take a joke?’ attitude that is often the response to sexist and racist slurs,” she said.

“World is way behind the times.”

As a result of L’Estrange-Corbet’s response, Balle and Higgins have decided to make a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Balle believed they had a strong case.

“The use of stereotyping in the World window displays is clear – it describes women’s main ambitions in life as romantic love and shopping.

“[This] is an outdated cliche, one that New Zealand society has moved beyond. Widespread offence has been taken.”

The duo have started a Facebook page to gain as much support as possible.

They have asked people to use a templated letter to send to L’Estrange-Corbet and World stores.

“The World brand is promoted as progressive…which makes it all the more disappointing,” Balle said.

“I’d like to see Denise step up to the plate.”

L’Estrange-Corbet has not responded to requests for comment.

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 – Stuff


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