Gok Wan ad campaign offends Australians by referring to breasts as ‘bangers’

Retailer Target is forced to defend its use of the British TV presenter in bra fitting promotion

The TV presenter Gok Wan has caused outrage Down Under by describing women’s breasts as “assets” and “bangers” in a new advertising campaign for a bra fittings service.

Australian retailer Target has been the subject of a large number of complaints, with viewers writing to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) saying the terminology used was “demeaning to women” and referred to them as “pieces of meat”.

While Gok Wan’s use of the term is relatively well known in the UK from his TV programme How to Look Good Naked, it is a much less common in Australia.

One disgruntled member of the public said: “Gok refers to women’s breasts as being their assets, while also calling them their bangers. I have never heard another woman, or man for that matter, refer to women’s breasts as bangers, bangers are a slang term for a sausage; I do not want my breasts referred to as meat.”

The ASB has published a case report of its investigation into the advert, during which it called upon Target to provide a response to the complaints.

The retailer said: “The term ‘bangers’ is used in wry acceptance that not everyone thinks about their breasts in positive terms. It is an irreverent term of affection. It is not designed to be derogatory or objectify women or degrade them in any way. It does not suggest that breasts are meat.

“Bangers” is more commonly used in the UK than in Australia, where “boobs’ is probably more familiar. Because the term “bangers” is less familiar in Australia, this lack of familiarity in Australia will be taken into account and the term “boobs” may be substituted in some advertising.”

In concluding its review of the case, the ASB dismissed the complaints, saying: “The Board considered that the overall tone of the advertisement is positive and light-hearted.

“The Board considered the term “bangers” and recognised that some members of the community may be offended by the reference to women’s breasts as bangers. The Board considered that the word is not commonly used in Australia in this manner but that in this instance it is not used in a derogatory way and that the use of the term bangers is one that is used by Gok as part of his programs and persona.

“The Board considered that the term “bangers” is not inappropriate and not strong or obscene language in this context.”