New Brunswick

'The '80s called. They want their ad back': Hundreds of complaints pour in over billboard

The owner of a company in Dieppe put up a billboard showing a woman wearing a midriff-baring T-shirt and bikini bottoms hoping to sell machinery, but instead so many complaints came in, it was taken down.

A woman wearing a midriff-baring t-shirt and bikini bottoms is largest image on billboard selling machinery

The owner of Machine Experts said he wanted the sign to have a 'fun, summery vibe,' but detractors called it sexist. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada)

A billboard sign was removed from Highway 15 between Moncton and Shediac on Tuesday afternoon because of an outpouring of complaints.

The sign showed a woman wearing a midriff-baring T-shirt and bikini bottoms, yet was advertising steel fabrication and 'machining equipment solutions' for Machine Experts, based in Dieppe.

Chris Landry, owner of the company, said his vision for the advertisement was a 'fun, summery vibe' appealing to people on their way to, or from, the beach. Instead. he said he received approximately 200 complaints in less than 24 hours and decided to have the billboard ad taken down.

Tina Thibodeau was one of the people who had serious concerns about the sign.

"The ad represents that you're selling the female, not the machinery," she said. "You're objectifying her, when we objectify women we treat them as objects."

Tina Thibodeau said she was outraged when a friend sent a picture of the sign. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Thibodeau, who was the executive director of a domestic violence shelter in Moncton for over a decade, said the image used as a marketing tool feeds into darker issues around misogyny.

"This feeds into the issues of domestic violence, it feeds into the issues that women can't get CEO jobs and that they have glass ceilings," said Thibodeau. "It feeds into this whole patriarchy that we have in our society that many still claim we don't have and we do that because we continue to let these types of things happen."

Thibodeau said she called the marketing agency, the billboard company and Landry on Monday. She didn't feel like her concerns were taken seriously at the time, but with the billboard gone she is happy the message was eventually received.

"When we decide we want something to change we can we rally together and we change it," said Thibodeau.

 She said it's frustrating to be talking about objectification of women, because she feels like she's been having that conversation for most of her adult life.

Chris Landry, owner of Machine Experts, said the sign was up for about two weeks before hundreds of complaints poured in. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada)

"The '80s called. They want their ad back," said Thibodeau.

Landry declined to do a taped interview but said he's sorry and will not use the image of a woman in his advertisements again unless she is dressed in work clothes appropriate for a machine shop. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tori Weldon

Reporter

Tori Weldon is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been working for the CBC since 2008.

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