Mumsnet challenges M&S over 'Hooters' deal

High street favourite's pact with US restaurant chain – famous for its scanitly clad waitresses – has infuriated mothers on the web

It is a battle for the hearts and minds of middle England. In one corner stands perhaps the nation's best-known retailer, in the other, legions of the most vocal – and sharp-elbowed – mothers in the country. Thousands of bloggers on the influential website Mumsnet are up in arms over Marks & Spencer's decision to sublet a former "Simply Food" outlet to the US restaurant chain Hooters, best known for its scantily clad waitresses and wet T-shirt competitions.

Members of the forum are calling on the site's one million monthly visitors to boycott the retailer for "selling women and girls down the river ... to make a quick buck", and have started a letter writing campaign urging M&S to reconsider.

In the face of much public opposition, Bristol city council this month gave the Hooters restaurant permission to open on the city's harbour-side. While the chain claims to be "family-friendly", the orange hot-pants and tiny white vest tops worn by its female staff are advertised more heavily than the burgers and nachos it sells.

"There has been a very strong response on the site to this. We've had thousands of comments and lots of people have written to M&S complaining about it," said Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet. "It is a family- and women-friendly brand. People think of it as more than a business, and expect more."

Mumsnetters are also offended by Hooters merchandise, which includes children's clothing bearing slogans such as "Does My Butt Look Big in This?" The say these messages undermine M&S's commitment to the site's 2010 "Let Girls be Girls" campaign, which aims to prevent the premature sexualisation of children.

While M&S is one of Britain's longest-standing and best-loved retailers, in incurring the wrath of Mumsnet it is taking on a formidable enemy. The decade-old website has a history of successful campaigns. In April Primark withdrew padded bikinis for girls as young as seven after pressure from the site. Even the recent general election was dubbed "the Mumsnet Election", after politicians from all parties courted the site's members.

The Hooters chain, which has 455 outlets across the world, plans to open restaurants in Cardiff and Brighton. The Cardiff Feminist Network has started a "Say No to Hooters" campaign, claiming that the restaurants are sexist and demeaning to women, arguments echoed on Mumsnet.

"It looks as if they [M&S] are endorsing – or at least not objecting to – the objectification of women. How girls are portrayed is very important to Mumsnetters," Ms Roberts said.

And what is important to Mumsnetters is important to retailers and advertisers. The site is frequented in the main by affluent mothers with considerable spending power and a high degree of self-regard. In the main they are aged between 30 and 45 and live in London and the South-east.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor