Singapore online fashion retailer SuperGurl has apologised online and on social media for a homepage banner inviting rape, described by at least one shopper as “absolutely vile”.
The banner featured a young woman with her arms up in submission and a button users could click on to gain discounts inviting them to “rape us now”.
The momentously stupid and insensitive promotion – targeting Black Friday shoppers – has received media attention internationally. UK Lifestyle news blog The Debrief referred to it as evidence that Black Friday “brings out the worst in retail brands”.
On SuperGurl’s Facebook page one follower of the brand Wei Wei Gwee eloquently summed up community anger: “Rape isn’t an advertising angle that one can exploit when thousands of victims suffer the irreparable damage rape has caused to them every day. Not only do you make light of sexual assault, you used this really young girl in a suggestive pose which seems to be extremely inappropriate. I wonder how the model will feel if she knew her photo was being used this way.”
SuperGurl creative director Jordus Lim posted an unqualified apology on the SuperGurl website and Facebook page claiming the brand never meant to offend anyone. He says a junior graphic designer created the promotion and uploaded it online before the image was approved.
“I am writing this to express our sincerest apologies pertaining to our insensitive action and the choice of [the] word ‘rape’ during our ‘Black Friday’ sale. We do not mean for it to be offensive to anyone, and I extend my sincerest apology for the lack of a better word.
“I hereby acknowledge that we have made a mistake, and that our caption does not advocate the right values to the young women community today.
“Having regretted [sic] for what we have done, the team at Supergurl will definitely be more careful with what we will put up in future as this is also a lesson learnt for us.
“This is an honest mistake that we have made on our side, and we do know that it is indefensible. We hope that the public will accept our apology for what we have done wrong.”
Another follower Christina Chew responded, typing Lim’s response “is uncommon valour”.
“Perhaps the wounds would leave some lingering scars thereafter. But I pray that the scars will heal and you will grow in increasing wisdom.”
To be fair, as The Debrief points out, SuperGurl is not alone in its poor judgement.
Last month, American Apparel was criticised for asking employees to wear shirts that read ‘Ask Me To Take It All Off’, while Bloomingdale’s issued an apology for their Christmas ‘date rape’ advertisement, with the caption: ‘Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking’, the site reported.
“When will fashion brands (or any brands for that matter) get the message that rape is not an acceptable advertising tool?”