American beer commercials may be able to overtly portray women as sexual objects, but as brewer Grupo Schincariol found out yesterday, doing so in Brazil can get your ad banned. Playing into its name, the Devassa Bem Loura (devassa meaning "naughty" and bem loura meaning "very blonde" in Portuguese) beer commercial features Paris Hilton in the role of sexpot exhibitionist simulating a striptease in front of the open windows of a high-rise apartment building for a crowd of beer drinking onlookers, one of whom is a photographer taking photos of the socialite from an apartment across from Hilton's. There's a major creep factor in a guy who is somewhere between a peeping tom and paparazzi secretly taking pictures of the scantily clad heiress (who turns up the heat on the show when she realizes she's being watched), but that's not what bothers advertising watchdog group Conar's spokesperson Eduardo Correia, "The problem with the ad isn't a lack of clothing, but its sensual nature."
Brazil's Secretariat for Women's Affairs agrees, "It's an ad that devalues women - in particular, blond women." They also received numerous complaints about the commercial being degrading to women.
Conar's three investigations concluded that the Bem Loura television spot does violate Brazilian ad regulations by showing "excessive sexual content," and a grumpy Schincariol agreed to pull the commercial with the promise to fight the decision. Schincariol defended its ad saying, "The company believes that the advertisement starring the model Paris Hilton doesn't offend, in any sense, any rule or orientation."
Listen, as the second largest brewer in Brazil, Grupo Schincariol ain't no fool. It has lots of cash to throw at its marketing campaigns and concocting scandal is an excellent way to gain publicity, especially if you want your ad to go viral. Given that the company has kept the ad on its website (with a statement reading, "The film for the beer Devassa with Paris Hilton was withdrawn of the air. To those who of felt offended, we offer a new film. Those that were not offended, we invite to watch the old film on the internet.") and they say has been viewed more than 400,000 times already, it seems all the hubbub is doing precisely what Schincariol intended it to do.
Perhaps it's time for feminists to start thinking a few steps ahead of kneejerk outrage at sexist ads and create a strategy for shutting them down that doesn't involve publicizing it in the process. It's clear advertisers are hip to feminists' game, and have successfully co-opted it for their own benefit. So, it's time to change the plays.
Update: Apparently one blonde American celeb getting her television commercial banned wasn't enough for one week. Pamela Anderson managed get booted from Australian TV this week too. I'm telling you this is a marketing ploy, folks.