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Making Lingerie Burqaspirational

January 18, 2010

A few months ago, German online lingerie store Liaison Dangereuse debuted a provocative 45 second commercial, by Berlin ad agency Glow. The clip, which has since done the rounds on the internet several times over, features a model donning skimpy lingerie, before a twist ending that most people wouldn’t see coming. I won’t ruin it for you – watch for yourself.

For those who don’t want to sit through the 45 seconds, the twist is that the woman finishes her outfit off with a burqa, before the slogan – ‘Sexiness for everyone. Everywhere.” – flashes on screen. I will give it to Glow; at first glance, this was an eye-catching campaign and I definitely gave them virtual props. But for the rest of the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and the more I thought about it, the more agitated I became.

For starters, as a German brand catering predominantly to Germans (the website is only available in one language), I found it intriguing and slightly unsettling that they would have to resort to using Muslim imagery and culture to sell their products. This forms the basis for several other problems I have. The dress that they feature in the advertisement is that of a small percentage of Middle Easterners, and the way it is portrayed is rather disrespectful – a woman choosing to wear a burqa would not be naked underneath, and would not appear nude in a commercial. Furthermore, and more importantly, the fact that they are pushing very Western ideologies – feeling sexy because of lingerie; the lady on the streets, a freak in the sheets – through conservative and religious imagery is rather distasteful, and lets be honest, insolent.

Don’t get me wrong – I am all for innovative marketing ideas and pushing barriers, and done differently, this could have been a very effective advertisement. Sometimes, though, people need to step back and study who they are marketing to. Instead of being an inspiring piece of work, as it would have been if this was actually targeted towards Muslim Arab women, it is nothing more than a shock-value portrayal of the fantasies of millions of FHM readers, sexualizing the unattainable woman. Ironically enough, the slogan, which is an obvious attempt at being empowering, comes out as being nothing more than a derogatory viewpoint of women in the Middle East.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2010 5:50 pm

    That’s really interesting. I don’t know anything about the relationship Germans have to their underwear but I approached this from the perspective of an article I read contrasting the American/British attitude with the French attitude toward underwear and the idea of feeling sexy for yourself. As far as I know, there’s nothing that indicates that a Muslim woman would not have any particular mood-boosting beauty ritual or whatever (I also recognize that that is probably from a Western perspective) or that she is in the Middle East.

    Maybe it’s a gender/sexual orientation thing or maybe I’m having a really good day but I absolutely did not even think that someone would see her as a sexual object in this context. It was just like “Oh that’s cool, she can wear whatever she wants under her burka and no one will see it or care but she wears it for herself.”

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