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Sexist ‘porn aesthetics’: Erotic ad for vegan food supplement sparks ire of Austria’s Greens in latest woke battle

A provocative marketing campaign launched to promote vegan-friendly food supplements has caught the disapproving eye of Austria’s Green Party, igniting yet another social justice fracas on the internet.

Gall Pharma rolled out a saucy ad featuring a naked woman (or so we are led to believe) suggestively resting an unpeeled banana on her chin. “We’re doing it vegan now,” the advertisement declares.

The sexual innuendo was not well received by Greens MP Meri Disoski, the party’s spokesperson for women and equality, who lashed out at the promotional material in a message posted to Facebook.

Arguing that there is “no connection” between the advertisement and what it is meant to promote, Disoski said Gall Pharma was guilty of “using a woman as a sexualized eye-catcher” for their products. Condemning the ad’s “pornographic aesthetics,” she claimed that the company had violated the code of ethics laid out by the Austrian Advertising Council. The MP urged the pharmaceutical firm to withdraw the ad and “refrain from sexist advertising in the future.”

Responses to her message were largely positive, with fellow Austrians expressing similar disgust with the ad. However, one Facebook user questioned the accusation of sexism, noting that women are well-represented among Gall Pharma’s senior leadership.

Using alluring photographs of both men and women to sell products is nothing new in the advertising world, but pushback against such practices has increased with the rise of social media-driven campaigns to shame companies and individuals accused of political incorrectness.

KFC Australia was in the crosshairs in January after running a TV ad that featured a pair of boys marveling at a scantily-clad woman adjusting her bra. Similar to the criticism fired at Gall Pharma, the fast food chain was accused of sexism and objectifying women. Social justice warriors have also been busy in the German-speaking world. Volkswagen came under fire this week after being accused of airing a subliminally racist promotion for its new Golf model.

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Growing sensitivity over acceptable marketing practices can backfire, however. In a recent example, a Swedish advertisement introduced the concept of “womanspreading” – which was billed as a female-empowering counter to men oppressively spreading their legs in public transport and other spaces. The gimmick was heavily criticized as infantile and hypocritical.

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