Ad Campaign Depicting Domestic Violence Sparks Outrage

A two-year-old advertisement for a hair salon in Edmonton, Canada has sparked an online controversy after it was e-mailed anonymously to the New York City advertising blogger Mark Duffy. The ad depicts a woman with a black eye, dressed up with her hair styled, sitting on a couch. Behind her is a man in a suit, holding a diamond necklace. The ad’s tagline reads: “look good in all you do.” In a facebook post about the ad, salon owner Sarah Cameron wrote: “hottest battered woman I’ve ever laid my eyes upon.”  In his short blog post which outed the ad, Duffy (known as copyranter) wrote “well, she’s about to get a shiny diamond necklace to match her shiner, so all’s well that ends well?”

The glorification of domestic violence in this advertisement has shocked women’s rights advocates and others in numerous forums across the Internet. In an article in the Edmonton Sun, Jan Reimer, from the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, called the ads “disturbing and chilling,” noting that “they may have had the best of intentions, but I don’t think they thought it out much in terms of what the message is. It seems like this is an ad for domestic violence.”  Edmonton blogger Kasia Gawlak, who blogs at Confessionality, told the Edmonton Sun that “it is like saying ‘at least you have good looking hair when your boyfriend abuses you.’ The women who have been abused (deal) with real pain, heartbreak and suffering — it’s not something that should be trivialized to sell a hair salon.”

Although salon owner Cameron defended the ad as a “particular art form” in remarks on her facebook page, she also apologized to abuse victims. However, the apology did not truly accept responsibility or express regret for the choices she and her creative team from Laird Media made. Cameron wrote:

If survivors of abuse interpret this ad to make light of any abusive situation, we sincerely apologize, that was never our intent as there are people that worked on this campaign who are survivors of abuse. To the rest of you who this has so deeply affected, we truly hope you do something to help stop domestic violence. Truly honor the survivors that you are standing up for. Unfortunately boycotting a hair salon will not accomplish this.

Cameron also promised to donate the proceeds of any services booked by people who mention the ad to the Edmonton Women’s Shelter.

In its article on the ad, the Toronto Star discussed the legal implications of such an ad. The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards Clause 14 prohibits advertisements that “appear in a realistic manner to exploit, condone or incite violence” and that “undermine human dignity.”  Advertising Standards Canada told the Toronto Start that it did expect a complaint to be filed and that it would investigate such a complaint, but that it would be handled confidentially.

What do you think? Are ads depicting violence against women simply a form of provocative art or are they crossing the line?

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Photo credit: Laird Media


Christina B.
Christina B7 years ago

Disgusting. :( No art at all.

Citlalli Valles
Citlalli Valles7 years ago

This is just horrible. Violence against women should never be considered funny.

Melania Padilla
Melania P7 years ago

It really looks stupid I have to say. Not because I am a woman, but really I see no point.... Such a shame we are witness of this in our time....

j.l. S.
Jen S7 years ago

This ad is beyond any defense; its very creation speaks loudly of the expansion of overt misogyny in our culture.

Noel S.
Noel S.7 years ago

Dear Anna F - I'm sorry to voice my fear - that you sound very bitter & disillusioned - not just with Men - but with Men, the Pharmacutical industry (you cite Contraception ), the farming industry ( you cite Factory-Dairy Units ), the food industry ( you cite the lunch tray ) , the schools, the Church..........and finally the very proffession that you say your Father & Daughter are/were members of. Oh, and you quit teaching .

Whew !

You know, scatter-gun tactics are not very accurate - and you could also sound a bit like you might be:- Throwing-the-baby-out-with-the-Bathwater ?

Anna Fisher
Anna Fisher7 years ago

no government in the world cares about girls or women, they are injecting us with toxins when we are abused and protecting our children calling it suicide when they sell us death on condoms and in birth control pills. Let's talk about what the fertility and mad cow diseases combined with heated pus milk from raped and abused and bloody cow udders grinding burgers and pumping the mrsa e-coli with ammonia and carbon monoxide ... we are already paying too stiff a price for the US Government to monitor our children's diets and education. You pay to kill, let's pay to teach peace for a change ... start with what's on the lunch tray and who is in the nurses office. Immunity makes child abuse and child sexual abuse not to mention kidnapping by those we trusted in schools and clergy to protect our children. It is a real live war on women, many of them are still piped by men and will soon be destroyed. Independence and transparency. Justice and reparations for battered women. I've waited my entire life for justice and reparations and my grandfather was an attorney, as is my daughter. Women spend MORE on attorneys and never win ... as long as Mr. Long Dong Silver and his predatory tactics fill the seats of JUST US there will be no remedy. Choice is important ... choice to live ... innocent lives terrorized by the world's inability to see prophet in rehabilitation. Today, I feel content as a vegan and quit teaching as I could not be enslaved to teach LIES to innocent poor families who h

Wanda Walker
Wanda Walker7 years ago

Yes it is crossing the line.Some women have a hard time leaving their abuser because of money,kids,and just being scared.When women are in a abusive relationship their thinking is not right.Just trying to make a decision to leave is hard enough.And when ads like this come out it dosen't go over to well,there is no art in it.

Latonya W.
Latonya W7 years ago

sad..........and how women dont stick together is even sadder.......

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

Not a good decision on this add.

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan7 years ago

So terribly sad that anyone thought this was a good idea.