My motherland is in trouble. After years of living beyond her means, the Emerald Isle has had to join the worldwide breadline for economic help. Job losses are spiralling out of control and the national morale has never been lower. Rather than succumb to the national reflex of drinking their own body weight in alcohol, Irish citizens have turned to advertising for relief.
Last month, Hunky Dorys, an Irish crisp brand, decided in the manner of Wonderbra before them of using the lowest common denominator advertising. They have got scantily clad models to roll around the rugby field. I would love to have sat in the planning department when they compiled their creative brief. I don’t imagine it took them long.
Do these ads objectify women? Certainly. But you could equally say recently that Alpen Bars do the same to males and Diet Coke did it years before. Unfortunately, it is the advert’s end line that caused the most controversy. Hunky Dorys state they are “Proud sponsors of Irish rugby”. This has had the Irish Rugby Football Union up in arms. This ancient and hallowed body of old men in blazers sipping cognac did not want to be associated with something as lurid as beautiful young women and claimed that a sponsorship deal had never been signed.
Cue incredible PR for Hunky Dorys. Legions of Facebook groups with thousands of members have been started by males and females to save the ads. Then just when it couldn’t get any weirder, a sturdily built female rugby player streaked onto the pitch in a men’s rugby tournament in Belfast with a packet of Hunky Dorys to protest against the brand’s objectification of women.
Sales of the crisp brand are rising sharply and it is still being debated whether to pull the ads. This campaign had a tiny budget that only used outdoor posters, yet it has created a huge PR machine. Would adverts of this nature cause such a commotion anywhere but Ireland? Absolutely not. As recently as 1962, one of Ireland’s most noted politicians claimed that there was no sex in Ireland until television arrived on its shores. We are a nation of schoolboys, still giggling at seeing half naked women and Hunky Dorys has taken full advantage of our mental adolescence. And my Grandad said it has made his drive to Sainsbury’s a lot more pleasant, so who am I to point fingers?