The Standard Hotel chain is getting some flack for glamorizing violence against women in its new ad campaign. The ad in question features an image of a woman lying face down with a suitcase on top of her, limbs splayed and her body exposed. It’s a creep shot for sure with some up-skirt visibility, and I’m not really sure why it’s relevant to hotels. The Standard: The Number One Hotel For A Sexy And Swanky Assault?
Somehow, the shot is supposed to appear glamorous, but it just looks tasteless. The woman looks unconscious or dead, which I suppose is very sexy? As we’ve written about in the past, luxury brands (typically the fashion industry) can’t seem to resist using images of domestic violence to hawk their products. I’m not sure why companies ever think this is a good idea, since domestic violence is the opposite of glamorous, edgy, or desirable.
The ad has inspired some significant pushback, including a Change.org petition launched by feminist culture blog MakeMeASammich. The petition demands an apology for publicizing an ad that trivializes violence against women, which seems reasonable enough to me.
The hotel chain, for that matter, has responded with a non-apology blame-it-on-art statement. According to their spokesperson, we’re all just misinterpreting this art piece because everyone is stupid and not high-brow enough. Claire Darrow, the creative director for André Balazs Properties which owns The Standard, explained that their ads are actually art pieces. Apparently, The Standard “[surrenders] our ads to art, so to speak. We want to contribute to the magazines. . . We don’t just want to advertise.”
The image used in the ad is part of One Minute Sculptures, a photo series by artist Erwin Wurm. I think the issue here comes from the intent–when the image of domestic violence exists as an artistic work, it has merit, but when a huge company uses an image like this to sell its luxury product, it almost becomes an endorsement.
Then again, it’s not out of the question that I simply don’t understand this, because I am not fancy enough. Owner André Balazs explained that ‘[t]he purpose of this ad, aimed at selective audiences, is to bring a degree of sophistication.” If only I were sophisticated enough to think this dead looking, violated woman was a great reason to stay at a hotel.