High Jinks And Kinks: Ann Summers Advertising And Political Opportunism

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A Cambridge politician and a local newspaper join forces to seek out non-existent outrage over Ann Summers advertising.

Local politics and local news are a curiously intertwined pairing where, in lieu of anything actually happening, minor issues are blown out of all proportion. Through sex into the mix, and you can expect all manner of eccentric lunacy to emerge.

Let’s take the case of Kelley Green, Labour Councillor for the Petersfield ward, who is at the centre of a non-story in her local paper that is either the desperate attention grabbing that local politicians often engage in or remarkably prudishness – or possibly both. The story centres, as these things often do, around Ann Summers and the chain’s lively advertising. In this case, it’s an image of a woman in pink latex and boots, holding a whip, with the caption “high jinks or kinks?” – part of their new Halloween ad campaign.

Green’s comments in the Cambridge News are worth quoting in full:

“I often walk through the Grand Arcade (and Lion Yard) to get to the council office, and it is quite an eye-catching image. I’ve really been noticing other people’s reactions to it, and I’d say they’ve been quite mixed. It seems to provoke surprise in women, and others turn their face away or sometimes hurry past and look visibly uncomfortable. But the reaction in men is very different, and I’ve seen some young shoppers stop and stare at it and even take pictures of it. The picture seems to be provoking a mixed response. I haven’t got any concern yet, and I’m not personally for or against it, but I just want to know what other people think, so I’m going to speak to women in Petersfield. I’m aware that with marketing imagery is important, but I’m wondering if it’s pushing any boundaries and becoming more daring, and I think it’s important to understand where the line is”.

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photo: cambridge-news.co.uk

There’s a lot to swallow here, frankly. A politician who apparently has no thoughts on the matter and who has not received a single complaint about the poster is nevertheless going to spend her time canvassing people – or more specifically, women, because who cares what men think? – about whether or not it is acceptable. Does she do this for any attention-grabbing advertising, or just those featuring sexy women in fetish wear? I think we can all guess the answer to that.

Her open mind on the subject is rendered rather questionable later in the non-story as she comments “perhaps we should be concerned about the objectification of women through porn imagery. I’d want to see if people thought this imagery is treating women like objects and how it affects men too.”

Whoa there – ‘porn imagery’? That’s quite a leap, but perhaps we’re getting closer to the truth of the story now. As Reprobate story spotter Daz Lawrence comments, the gist of the story seems to be “I’m not for or against it but I’m going to be asking people until I find someone against it”. Perhaps someone should point out to Green that Ann Summers is a business aimed almost exclusively at female customers and so it’s not really in their interests to upset women – but if you are the kind of person who generally disapproves of sexy lingerie and all that it implies, then I suspect that the very existence of the chain upsets you.

Perhaps disappointingly for both Councillor Green and the Cambridge News (who clearly thought that this was a story worth sharing) is that a reader poll has, at the time of writing, seen 84% of voters declare the image to be ‘perfectly alright’.