Benetton has joined the ranks of companies forced to apologise for ill-considered adverts. The advert in question was for boys' clothes, and featured three boys wearing the chain's clothes, and the words "Sorry! No girls allowed!"
People took to social media to complain about what they felt was a sexist approach to selling clothes. Many expressed disappointment at the clothing company that in the past has featured ads that encourage LGBTQ inclusivity and cultural diversity. Among the comments was one that read: "Girls not allowed! What year is this?!"
However, others felt the reaction was unnecessary, with one commenting: "This is a harmless ad that is poking fun at how boys at that age call girls yucky, nothing more, nothing less. People need to stop making everything something to fight about!"
The brand kept the post online but issued an apology, saying: "We're very sorry that our message struck the wrong chord with some of you."
Not the first
This isn't the first time that a company has got into hot water for gender-specific adverts for boys and girls. Back in 2013, Clarks was in the frame for gender specific advertising in store. On one side of the window in blue text it said: 'Because boys test their shoes to destruction, so do we' and on the other side in pink it said: "Because girls love comfort and style, we design both into our shoes." The brand was subsequently persuaded to change the displays.
In fact in 2015, when the Let Toys Be Toys campaign analysed children's adverts, they found they were overwhelmingly sexist and reinforced 'narrow and limiting' gender stereotypes. Adverts for vehicles, action figures and construction sets featured boys being active and 'aggressive', while girls appeared in adverts for dolls and more glamorous toys - and were only active when dancing.
The campaign has been effective in encouraging stores from Marks & Spencer to Toys R Us to drop gender-based marketing. However, clearly the stereotypes endure.
So what do you think? Is this damaging children perceptions and limiting their ambitions, or is this a lot of fuss over nothing? Let us know in the comments.