Australian advertising watchdog Ad Standards dismissed complaints about a Bonds ad featuring a real-life gay couple that went viral on social media.
In the ad, the shirtless couple – Nicolas and Steve – passionately kiss against a kitchen counter wearing matching underwear.
“It’s the little moments that make Christmas season so special,” the caption reads.
But despite widespread praise when the ad circulated online in November, some complained to the national watchdog Ad Standards.
One complaint raged, “This is totally inappropriate for a Christmas advertisement. This belongs more in an adults only environment.
“The man is also grabbing the other mans bum which is totally inappropriate. If this was a man grabbing a women’s bum there would be uproar why the double standards [sic].
“The intimacy of the kiss they are sharing is inappropriate as you can clearly see tongue action. From what I hear the the couple are a real life couple so the intimacy is very clear.
“This is not a lingerie shoot or adult shoot this is an advertising campaign that is targeting everyone including kids which is just terrible.
“When did Christmas become a sexual agenda? I would say the same if it was a man with woman [sic].”
In response, Bonds’ parent company Hanes Apparel told Ad Standards, “We refute the suggestion that [the social media post] is about pushing a left-wing political agenda, a sexual agenda, or broaching on ‘gay porn’.
“Bonds is an inclusive Australian brand and we believe it is important to represent and celebrate all Aussies – including this real, in-love couple.”
Ad Standards says gay kiss ad ‘not itself a depiction of sex’
In its determination, Ad Standards said “the depiction of men in underwear is not of itself a depiction of sexual intercourse, sexual stimulation or suggestive behaviour.”
“The Panel noted the men were kissing, but considered there was no indication this would lead to sex,” Ad Standards said.
“The Panel considered that children viewing the advertisement would view a couple in a relaxed intimate moment and would not view the advertisement as sexualised.”
Ad Standards found the Bonds ad “did treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity” and did not breach the ad industry’s Code of Ethics. As a result, Ad Standards dismissed the complaints.
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The couple in the ad, Nicolas and Steve, previously said representation of same-sex couples was important to queer youth.
“They can be validated by seeing someone like them represented in mainstream media,” Nicolas said in November.
“The main issue is that the photo wouldn’t be causing as much controversy if it was a straight couple.
“We’re two adults showing their love for one another. It’s just a little smooch, really.”
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