Victoria’s Secret ad sparks debate in Saskatoon
Published Tuesday, March 31, 2015 4:34PM CST Last Updated Tuesday, March 31, 2015 4:38PM CST
Jennifer Campbell was speechless when her niece told her she felt uncomfortable by a Victoria’s Secret ad displayed in Midtown Plaza.
“I didn’t know what to say,” the Saskatoon woman wrote on Facebook.
“I had already noticed what I felt to be over-advertising of the store opening, but I had also reminded myself that I’m hyper-aware of the media my children are exposed to. It’s not ONE photo, it’s the millions they are exposed to every day and the body type that is being normalized in our culture, including to children.”
Campbell recently sparked an online conversation about body image and advertising — especially about their effects on children — when, on Sunday night, she posted to Facebook a letter she sent to Midtown Plaza about the Victoria’s Secret advertisement.
The post, which has since been shared nearly 800 times, came after she was shopping with her sons and eight-year-old niece. Her niece kept staring at the ad displayed across several locations at the Saskatoon mall.
“‘It kind of makes me uncomfortable,’” Campbell recalled her niece saying. “‘She’s practically naked.’”
Campbell didn’t know how to respond.
She told CTV Saskatoon she wasn’t concerned about the mild nudity in the advertisement. She was concerned the ad — and others like it — would harm not only her niece’s image of herself, but also numerous other children's views on body image.
“I think it’s okay for children to be exposed to semi-naked bodies. I think it’s okay for them. I want them to see a broad range of bodies. I don’t want them seeing just one body type,” she told CTV.
Campbell’s letter targeted the placement of the ad on two elevators at the mall.
“Who’s using your elevators at Midtown Plaza? The elderly and mothers with strollers and young children,” she wrote.
“I may not be able to change the world but maybe I can change the Midtown Plaza’s policies on what it decides to put on it’s [sic] elevator doors, the place I, and thousands of other Saskatchewan mothers, stand waiting with our children.”
Campbell called on others to contact the mall and political officials about the ad.
Midtown Plaza’s marketing director Daisy Lieu told CTV the mall has received a lot of feedback since Campbell posted on Facebook Sunday night.
She said, while officials understand the concerns, the mall only ensures advertisements follow national advertising standards.
“As we’ve communicated with those individuals, while we understand and empathize with parental concerns, it is simply not our role to censor marketing campaigns as long as they conform to regulatory standards set by Advertising Standards Canada,” Lieu said in an online statement.
Victoria’s Secret opened in Midtown in February.
All new retailers are given four to six weeks to advertise their grand openings, according to a mall spokesperson. Ads are placed on elevators, on in-mall signage and onto back-lit posters in the parkade. Victoria’s Secret was given those same advertising opportunities. Their ads are set to come down within the week.
Campbell said regardless of when the ad is removed she hopes parents and the community ensure children are educated about body image.
“Somebody has to care,” she wrote on Facebook.
--- based on a report by CTV Saskatoon's Angelina Irinici
Read Jennifer Campbell's full Facebook post below: