Ever wanted to be sexually harassed at a bus shelter? Hunky Dorys are here to help.

I hate to say it but it’s time to get in touch with our old friends at the Advertising Standards Authority as another local company decides to completely take the piss with an overtly sexist poster campaign.

Hunky Dorys crisps are a product of Irish company Largo foods and currently have an advertising campaign in bus shelters around Northern Ireland using women as sex objects (and some bizarre rugby references which seem weirdly off target given the football world cup is about to start), and with one being ‘the ass shot’ and another ‘the boob shot’ it’s clear that Largo foods and their ad agency consider women as nothing more than the sum of their body parts. These ads reveal a depressing lack of understanding of the effects of plastering hyper-sexualised images of women on ads for crisps, especially given that they are placed in public spaces where people gather, often for extended periods of time considering Translink’s excellent time-keeping, and such blatant sexism creates an atmosphere where women are dehumanised, demeaned and potentially harassed.

In fact, Largo have a bit of previous when it comes to demeaning women. Two earlier campaigns for Hunky Dorys have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland – first in December 2005 and then again in November 2006. The Irish Independent covered both rulings, here and here, and both articles are worth a read in order to see the kind of arguments that were used to win the ruling against them last time round.

Largo’s repeat offending says something about the impotence of the advertising industry’s system of self regulation both in the UK and Ireland and it’s hardly surprising that people often resort to more direct methods of removing these harmful representations of women from their communities when following the proper route brings so little change. OBJECT have been working to raise the issue in the run up to the election by encouraging people like us to ask all potential MPs to sign their Charter on Women in the Media, thus making a commitment that they will act to provide serious penalties for companies who degrade women – not a meaningless slap on the wrist and a bit of free publicity when the ASA publish the ruling in the press. I have loads of these postcards to give to candidates so be sure and get some off me if you can or download the postcard and an accompanying letter from OBJECT here.

So if you spot one of these ads please note where and when and send an email to the ASA. We should perhaps try and email the ASAI also to cover both bases. But don’t stop there. Contact Largo. Email them. Ring them so they are forced to have a conversation with a real person about how arrogant and damaging their approach to women is. If you’re waiting for a bus and one of these posters is looming behind you ask yourself how it makes you feel. Empowered? Insecure? Sexy? Safe? Voiceless? If you’re not happy with it, do something.

Here are some useful contacts:

The Advertising Standards Authority complaint page.

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland complaints page.

Largo Foods contact page.


28 Responses to “Ever wanted to be sexually harassed at a bus shelter? Hunky Dorys are here to help.”

  1. 1 Amanda Poole April 26, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Hi Kellie, I have sent you a facebook message re the Hunky Dory campaign. I look forward to hearing from you. Regards, Amanda – Journalist

  2. 5 Jonna Monaghan April 27, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Hi Kellie

    Good to see you got the piece in the Telegraph – by the way it’s the first hit if you google ‘hunky dorys crisps’, from Northern Ireland anyway. I saw the ads this morning and have both emailed Largo and made a formal complaint, I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw them. It’s unbelievable this still can pass in 2010 and I feel personally disgusted and violated. What’s more, I have two young children and I will not sit by and let them grow up into a world that still thinks this way.

    Thanks for making noise about this!!

    • 6 Aideen April 27, 2010 at 12:12 pm

      Hi, I saw a post on jezebel about this, couldn’t believe my eyes, dashed off a quick email to largo foods & the irfu, got an almost instant response from the IRFU detailing their surprise at it & how they’re taking legal advice & making a complaint to the ASAI, which I did too – first time I’ve ever made a complaint like that. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when they’re sanctioning these campaigns to see how they justify them – obviously they’ve gotten the publicity, which is probably all they care about at the end of the day anyway! I never buy their product, and that certainly won’t change from now on.

  3. 7 WWilson April 27, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Where can one see these offending posters to judge for oneself

  4. 10 Abigail April 27, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks for speaking out about this! I was horrified to see these ads and find them offensive as a woman and as a rugby player. Women’s rugby has struggled for years to gain recognition in a field dominated by men and these ads make a mockery of all the women who have worked so hard to promote the sport that they love.

  5. 11 Blag April 27, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I dont know ladies, It makes me want to go and buy a packet of hunky dory crisps right now… Awsome advertising IMO….


  6. 12 EM1 April 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    This is typical of people like you, the female form has been used in advertising in many ways, do you complain when Dove use naked women to promote their products? No because it is for ‘real women’, is it beautiful women you object to?

    This is a light hearted campaign and in fact the BT article has only served to promote the advert further so congratulations to you for helping Hunky Dory out.

    Why do leading women’s magazines always have beautiful women on the cover? Because when they do they sell more copies…..FACT!

    You really do need to get off your high horse and ask women if they actually agree with your stance on this, it would not surprise me if it was a woman in the Largo marketing department who approved this creative?

    I am so tired of how you think you represent women and that you are always being victimised, you do women no favors at all when you ‘rant’ like this.

    • 13 soisaystoher April 27, 2010 at 9:05 pm

      There are so many wrong assumptions in this comment that I almost don’t know where to start.

      How about this: I have never claimed to speak for anybody other than myself so your irritation at how I apparently claim to speak for women is misplaced. Although if the Belfast Telegraph, BBC, UTV and TodayFM are all contacting me to share my views then maybe more people agree with me than you’d like to admit.

      Next wrong assumption: That I must be a big fan of the Dove campaign. I have mixed feelings about it to be honest. They’re certainly helping women feel more comfortable in their own skin because they’re showing up the beauty industry’s manipulation of women. But at the same time they’re ultimately out to make a profit themselves so, for me the jury is still out. Their soap is pretty good though.

      Next, that I have a problem with ‘beautiful’ women. Actually I love beautiful women. I love the women I see walking down the street every day who are beautiful and intriguing and radiant in lots of diverse ways. The women staring down at us from billboards may well be beautiful also but that airbrushed pornified version of beauty is not the only one. And it’s not what MOST women look like.

      Where are we now…oh yeah, the fact that you think it hasn’t dawned on me that I’m giving the company some extra publicity by speaking to the media about this. Give me a little credit please. Actually I don’t care about that because this ad campaign is set to last 2 weeks after which it will be forgotten about. But the people who have heard me offer a feminist critique of this aspect of our culture and have connected with that will continue to do so. Of the 2300 people who have read my blog so far today, many will go on to get involved in all the great feminist conversations and activities happening in NI so it’s worth it.

      Next, the idea that I’d be surprised if I was to discover that a woman came up with the idea. First of all, I find that extremely unlikely. But if it were true that’s fine because not all women agree with a feminist view of the world. Just like not all men think like you. The researchers who proposed the story and contacted me from both the BBC and UTV today were male. Progressive, socially conscious men who understand the women in their own lives enough to be turned off by sexual objectification…you should try it.

      I’m sorry you’re tired of me. I’m not shutting up anytime soon.

  7. 14 Aidso SLF April 27, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Kellie & others,

    Hang on just a second here. “I feel personally disgusted and violated.” “Sexually harassed at a bus shelter.” If ever we needed an example of barmy feminist thinking, this is it. I’m thinking that any woman who has ACTUALLY been harassed at a bus shelter might have something to say about all this. I’m just as certain that any woman who has ACTUALLY been “violated” would be equally keen to comment on this thread of back-slapping utter nonsense.

    Next we’ll have Kellie triumphing the mandatory wearing of the full length burqua on all women…just in case anyone (ie., wretched bloke) might consider her, God forbid, as attractive. For attractive insert “sex object” as is your want.

    The previous contributor got it bang on….women as well as men love beautiful women. What IS the problem? Has it ever occurred to any of you that most women probably don’t find this sort of thing as repugnant as you lot anyway? I mean, if it’s all about equality I look forward to your complaints about the Gillette ads, or the Diet Coke ads. Your double standards are as obvious as they are predictable. Maybe Kellie could do some research on it….if she has time in between saving the female species to finish her BA in Gender & Society at Queens?

    Aideen, and the rest of your supporters, why don’t you “dash off” and get a life? Or at least go and complain about something that might make a difference.


  8. 15 Kirstin April 27, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Thanks so much for this. I just wandered into town and was surrounded by these. They’re really grim. Sent my first ever complaint to the ASA as soon as I got home! Glad to see other people are equally horrified.

  9. 16 EM1 April 27, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Well so now that I am not a progressive socially conscious man I am wrong!

    Funny that, when I discussed this tonight with 2 highly qualified progressive women they felt my comments were valid and indeed well represented.

    I then came home to see you enjoying your moment in the sun for your opinion, well this is Northern Ireland and when we see sun it is quickly followed by rain and I feel that this is what will follow you this week.

    You have a one sided argument totally from the corner in which you choose to fight from, can you not as an ‘equality professional’ see how you are totally falling into the arena from which you began your thinking, closed!

    I employ many professional women in highly creative positions who also feel that this is a very impactful and fun advertising campaign, the photographer from Sports Illustrated was probably well paid and so he should be so this means that your 2 week theory is unlikely, this campaign will and should run.

    The only shame today was to see the CEO of Largo apologise for upsetting some people, unnecessary, if we all apologise for running businesses that don’t suit everyone we would all be MA students! Remember those who can, do, those who can’t blog!!!!

  10. 17 alan April 28, 2010 at 12:28 am

    surely womens lib has bigger fish to fry. how about starting in a more familiar domain of womens mags, that’s where you’ll find most of the offensive imagery – tailored pictures of models trying to make you buy the latest and greatest eye-lash-lengthening-thingymajig. where is the outrage there?!

    don’t get me wrong, i’m not a huge fan of this type of advertising but i’m not sure why everyone jumps out of their pram over something this. is it because an ad for crisps isn’t entitled to use a sexy image (lets just call it ‘sexy’ for the sake of arguement), but a sun tan or perfume company can?! i’m confused?!?!

    as for strange timing given the world cup – there are 2 irish sides in the rugby euro semi’s this weekend, so that dig was pointless (and obviously not researched in the slightest – too outraged to google i guess). and as for a comment that it’s discrediting the efforts of female rugby players … please! that’s the weakest arguement of all against this kind of thing.

  11. 18 JohnnyBravo April 28, 2010 at 3:15 am

    Have to say you girls have it spot on. This kind of thing is shameful! How can this kind of thing penetrate the mass media in this day and age. We’ve surely moved passed this obsession with exploiting the naked human body as a means of advertising and ….. hang on…. theyre not naked! Unlike this chappy,

    from the Lacoste ad who seems to love there clothes and aftershave so much he runs around the house b******k naked. Interestingly you have to log into youtube to view this video as this warning comes up

    “Lacoste commercial”

    This video or group may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube’s user community.

    To view this video or group, please verify you are 18 or older by signing in or signing up.

    All this and yet the ad has been on Irish television for years now!!! Could it be that we just didnt notice the notice man in the ad was naked?? Not likely!

    Or could it be that as knuckle dragging apes we lack the mental capacity to type a vitriolic email/complaint. Possibly but again not likely

    Maybe its just that we men took it as intended; a bit if fun meant to be a bit of a bright spot in days of women and a talking point to generate revenue.

    So in the words of Winston Churchill “Relax, its probably not as bad as you think!”

  12. 19 Aidso SLF April 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Has this all been a bit of a storm in a D-cup?

  13. 20 kyla May 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks for the article and your above response to EM1 is excellent. It’s actually quite depressing to see this type of advert in 2010, basically showing parts of women ie;
    their arses and their breasts to be direct about it, to sell fecking crisps. its old and boring really when you think about it. The portral of air brushed models in totally unrealists kits with their boobs and bums hanging out is demeaning to women in rugby who have worked and continue to work to bring seriousness to the game. I over heard a young boy of 9 today say to another ” tackle these crisps” or whatever the strap line is . Not good for young girls and not good for young boys.
    its not just about women’s beautiful bodies selling products it is as stated above the pornification of these women in their poses . its not just about being agains beautiful women , its about trying to promote young girls and sport. for example men tend to continue to play football with their mates well into their 30’s as they started young the media should be promoting and so should schools and society sport for girls so they too can have this womnderful actvity as they grow up

  14. 21 Janet May 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Hi Kellie,

    Thanks for speaking out and representing my thoughts. I have been appalled at these adverts for days. Its so depressing, and we seriously walk a different route so my kids don’t have to see them.

    thanks for your writing.

  15. 22 kyla May 3, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    I.R.F.U. are disapointing they apparantly, seems they are happy now as the sponsorship association has been removed. thats not good enough they should be doing more. Also are there no asociations promoting womens sport , why arent they saying anything? I just made a formal complaint, instead of just talking about how I feel, its easy and can b e done on line on http://www.asai.ie

  16. 24 soisaystoher May 8, 2010 at 11:30 am

    That is a great decision Kyla! I’m guessing the posters will all be gone monday or Tuesday then. Maybe given this is the 3rd time Largo have stepped over the line they will actually face some kind of financial penalty. There has to be some kind of meaningful impact for being so arrogantly sexist. I’d say their brand has definitely been damaged at least.

  17. 25 Aidso May 8, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    I promised myself I would leave well alone but forgot that I’d ticked the box that alerts me to comments. So in response to the above I’d like to bet that these ads are going nowhere anytime soon. There is zero chance of Largo been penalised for them as well and it is naive to think so. By whom, ASA? What for? If the likes of ASA were to impose financial penalties on every ad that glorified the beauty of the female (or for that matter the male) form there would be litigation galore. I don’t expect you all to agree with anything me or anyone who thinks like me says. But whether you like it or not your view, whilst creditably loud, is just as clearly in the abject minority. THAT is why these ads will not be taken down. Not by ASA and certainly not by Largo. Because….brace yourselves….there’s nothing wrong with them.

    I can’t help but think that there are so many other female/feminist issues out there so much more worthy of your time, not to say your “disgust”, your complaints and your energy.

    Kyla, you talk about no-one doing anything to promote womens sport. I don’t even know what that means. If that’s your concern go and do something about it. It’s got nothing to with these poster ads because…once again brace yourselves….the posters have nothing to with sport or with promoting sport. They are a light-hearted attempt to advertise a brand. I happen to think as an ad they are shabby but only because they’re not clever or witty. They are blunt and don’t nearly carry the effectiveness of the “Hello boys” ad from some years ago. By the way, were you all disgusted and appalled at that too? I’ll bet you weren’t at the time. But I suspect you’ll tell me now you were.

    Janet, I just hope you can find the strength to lift yourself from your depression at seeing these posters. That said, I fear for your sanity if you ever encounter any one of the real problems and stresses that life has a habit of bouncing on us every now and then. You must lead an admirably sheltered existence to get depressed at merely looking at any of these posters.

    Good luck girls,


  18. 26 soisaystoher May 8, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    hi aidso

    as you know I think you’re a reasonable person just trying to put across your sincere opinion on the issue but i do think it’s a little funny how you seem to feel like it’s your duty to come and educate us feminists on how the world really is with your ‘brace yourself’ and you ‘good luck girls’. It is a little patronising and reflects the narrowness of your interpretation of the issue that is up for discussion.

    I just want to point towards this great article in the Irish Times http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2010/0503/1224269589525.html

    which really highlights the difficulties facing women’s sport in ireland. It is very hard for women to be taken seriously as competitors or spectators – sport is an industry largely marketed by men for men. That’s pretty obvious.

    I think the person with a sheltered existence might just be you aidso if you think that sexual objectification in our culture doesn’t contribute to some of the extremely serious issues facing women in our society. Sexual violence and rape, domestic violence, the pay gap…bascially all of the issues that stem from women not being valued as equal participants in society with men. I don’t really know how else to explain it to you dude but creating an atmosphere for women where we should be more concerned about keeping our tits pert and our muffs waxed and our thighs skinny than exploring our creativity or achieving success in our careers or being the highest scoring player on our rugby team, is just going to maintain the inequality that continues to exist. And it creates a comfortable context for the sort of attitudes to women that suggest we’re supposed to like being leered at, talked about in terms of how fuckable we are, and ultimately that our sexual availability button should be set to ‘ON’ at all times. It’s from this kind of culture that sexual violence grows. And advertisers should show some level of social responsibility. If the women’s movement hadn’t spoken out in the 1960s we’d still have this kind of crap: http://carmenscafe.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/sexist-thumb.jpg

    There will always be some women and men who choose to trade on their looks alone but you are very very blinkered if you can’t see that we have not yet emerged from a sexist legacy of treating women like your looks are all you really should be trading on. I’m sure you’ll tell me you know lots of professional women who do whatever they want blah blah…yes it’s true there is opportunity there to be taken by those who happen to have the resources and support networks to go for them. But our culture does not yet support that on the whole. If you ever get the chance to actually listen to the women in your life talking about their experiences I guarantee you’ll find some history of eating disorders, insecurity, having to fight twice as hard to get where you are, constant pressure to lose weight…and let’s not forget that 1 in 4 women have been sexually assaulted so provided you know 4 women I imagine that’s something you might come across.

    So I’m not saying hunky Dory’s in themselves did some awful thing to women that offends me greatly…if you don’t understand the wider cultural context then I wouldn’t expect you to understand why it’s a good decision that this ad has been banned.

    • 27 Aidso May 10, 2010 at 5:06 pm


      Again, we’ll just have to agree to differ.

      I’ve not seen the 1960’s ad before. I laughed. But not because I thought the ad was itself funny. Not because I found humour in the sexual objectification of women. No, I laughed because it was ridiculous and so gloriously out of touch with modern thinking – whatever we all think that might be. Just as ridiculous in fact as two teams of women in a scrum all wearing bikini bottoms and belly tops. Who knows, maybe in 30 years time people will look back at the Hunky Dory ads and think the same. But I doubt it. Without this furore these ads wouldn’t have been seen nor heard of after a week or so.

      As for womens sport the biggest problem is watch-ability. Most womens sport simply does not have the power to draw spectators in sufficient numbers to justify the coverage, the funding, the sponsorship. Maybe you would regard that as unfair. But therein lies your problem. It’s not about a policy, deliberate or otherwise, to sideline or discriminate against women in sport. Men’s soccer, rugby, gaelic football etc, etc have all shown an unrivaled ability to draw men and women spectators by the thousands (some more than other acceptably). Women’s sport just cannot compete with that and any attempt to force some type of equal rights on this issue is artificial and naive. It’s not sexual discrimination just because so few people want to watch womens sport in anything more than modest numbers. That’s just the way it is. With notable exceptions such as professional tennis and athletics people just aren’t interested in watching most womens sport. I can’t offhand think of one male sport which has coverage, funding etc but without the attendant numbers to justify it. It’s about numbers, not gender.

      And I could never be convinced about what you call the wider cultural context that is allegedly derived from these particular ads. Neither should I be associated with the extreme views of women/womanhood which have indirectly been attributed to me in your response.

      Your “guarantee” that the women in my life, or anybody else’s for that matter, all have a history of insecurity, constant pressure to lose weight, eating disorders etc is a little hard to, well, swallow. And don’t forget that whilst the male of the species is on your metaphorical feminist dartboard, the reality is that the pressures on women today to conform in the manner described by you comes almost exclusively from women’s magazine culture. I’m no expert, but contrary to your colourful “pert tits…muff waxed…skinny thighs” theory, if women are suffering as badly as you say they are it’s more likely that Cosmopolitan as opposed to Playboy is the culprit at the route of the problem.

      Finally, I didn’t know the ads had been banned. By who? They’re still up. I think.


  1. 1 You Don’t Have to Be Sexist…but you do have to have a lack of imagination. « Trackback on April 27, 2010 at 11:40 pm

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