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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
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

    Ashdown Group: IT Analyst / Helpdesk - 2 Month Contract - £15ph - High Wycombe

    £15 per hour: Ashdown Group: IT Analyst / Helpdesk - 2 Month Contract - £15ph ...

    Recruitment Genius: Automation Test Analyst

    £35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This group is the world's secon...

    Ashdown Group: Service Desk Analyst - Application Support - Central London

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Service Desk Analyst (App...

    Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engineer (Windows Server, Exchange Server)

    £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engine...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum