Take a good hard look at the above advertisement. Are you aghast? Offended? Does it put you in the mood -- to buy furniture?
The ad campaign is for a Phoenix furniture distributor called Furniture Affair -- a sort of edgy boutique where people can get pretty good discounts on designer gear.
For some reason, a Valley woman named Joy Butler seems to find this campaign so offensive that she did what any concerned citizen would do. No, she didn't write her congressman, she started a Facebook campaign to put a stop to it.
A billboard featuring the above image went up in August and by mid-September, Butler sent a letter saying the following to Furniture Affair General Manager Jenifer Robb:
I am really disappointed in your current billboard advertising. My
question for you is, why in this current economic downturn would you
choose to advertise, possibly for the first time, by objectifying a
woman and using a "cheap" woman to sell furniture. As a local company,
why did you choose inappropriate edge when you really did not need to -
during times like this consumers do not need to be shocked into shopping
for consignment items? A response is appreciated...
Then she started a facebook group to spread awareness of the "offensive" campaign.
Butler tells New Times that at no point should a woman be called "cheap" and that the ad is a harmful continuation of the "harmful images men and women have been fighting against for years."
We're not too sure what's so harmful about a lady laying on a couch so we asked Butler and she says it's all in the legs.
"It's the dismemberment of the body parts," she says. "Most of the ad is legs and, to me, that's inappropriate."
Robb says the folks at Furniture Affair, which happens to be owned and run by women (the ad itself was actually designed by a woman, too) were absolutely stunned by the complaint.
Robb says the company just looked at the ad as a fun way to tell people that, in this economy, people can still buy nice furniture and there is nothing sexual or objectifying about it.
"The model's not exactly a young thing," Robb says. "She's not a size zero or anything; she's got two kids!"
Robb says any reference to cheap was referring to the clothes the model is wearing, including the vintage 80's jacket, that actually belongs to Robb herself.
"We took turns laughing and crying about it," she says. "The woman actually blamed Nancy [the owner of Fashion Affair] for her 7-year-old niece having a 'how-sexy-are-you' quiz on her Facebook page."
Regardless of how ridiculous Butler's outrage may seem, Robb says the company felt so attacked by Butler's protest that it agreed to change the ad, and is now going with a much lamer approach it is calling "Drop Dead Deals." The new ads will show a woman (Robb) lying on the floor next to some furniture (yawn).
The change is probably going to cost Furniture Affair about $5,000, which Robb says is going to be tough. But the attention Butler's outrage has received via-Facebook has brought more people into the store than probably ever saw the ad.