Hello boys...but it's goodbye girls

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The Independent Online
Is it more acceptable to show a woman in a brassiere on an advertising hoarding than a man in underpants?

An underwear company is grappling with the apparent sexism at the heart of this question after being warned off running a poster campaign showing a male model wearing underpants.

Its proposed slogans of "The Loin King" and "Full Metal Packet" are thought too cheeky, so to speak. But are they more so than the Wonderbra advert which shot Eva Herzigova's cleavage to fame under the legend "Hello Boys"?

Kevin Higgs, founder of Brass Monkeys, said that the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), an advisory arm of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), told him he should use a "smaller" model if he wanted his poster campaign to run, despite its appearance without problems in men's magazines.

He wants to know why the makers of the Wonderbra advertisement were not given the same advice. "It's double standards. If it was female underwear, it wouldn't be a problem," he said yesterday. "They are probably all old men at the ASA who think it's fine to have a sexy looking female for men to look at, but you couldn't trust ladies on the high street with a picture of a good-looking man. It's ridiculous."

Mr Higgs said that members of CAP told him that an advertisement for Club 18-30, which featured a man's crotch over the slogan "Girls. Can we interest you in a package holiday?" had also had to be withdrawn.

"I said, we're doing men's underwear. What do they want us to do? We can hardly put the underpants on his head."

A spokesman for the committee explained breasts were considered more acceptable than groins. "People will appreciate there's a difference between focusing on the groin area and the chest area in advertising," he said. But Susie Orbach, the best-selling feminist writer, said the ASA's distinction was bizarre. "We take it so much for granted that we can display and sell women's bodies that we don't even pause for thought. It takes trying to sell men through their bodies to make us pay attention."