Advertising standards need to be reviewed.

The billboards of the Philippine Volcanoes rugby team wearing Bench Body underwear along EDSA-Guadalupe really caused quite an eruption.

The billboards were gigantic in size and overwhelming in content, their subjects baring their almost-perfect physiques in very skimpy underwear. But just as quickly they were put up, the billboards were quickly taken down on orders from Mandaluyong City Mayor Ben Hur Abalos, citing complaints from the public, including Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian’s.

But the move smacked of double-standard since, to be sure, sexist billboards of women in underwear have dotted Edsa for some time now.

I have been riding the MRT from Guadalupe for many years now and I have seen all the billboards that have come and gone, not just along Guadalupe but along the whole stretch of EDSA as well. That’s why I know for sure that a lot of sexy billboards have been there.

I remember Angelica Panganiban and Georgina Wilson clad in their fancy bras and panties for Bench. I can’t forget Solenn Heusaff in her blue string bikini and awkward pose for Penshoppe. I have seen Triumph and Jockey’s underwear ads. How can you forget the billboard ads for Bench’s UNCUT fashion show featuring celebrities such as Katina Halili and Jake Cuenca? What about Angel Locsin and Venus Raj in their skimpy bikinis posing for Folded and Hung? And who cannot recall Christine Reyes in all her sexiness for Colt 45? The list goes on and on.

A lot of sexy outdoor ads have passed us through the years and it has always been an issue. However, I never heard of anyone who got shocked over billboards of scantily clad women and took them down. There were no reactions such as “I myself was shocked to see it!” or “Thank God our kids can safely pass EDSA now!” over those.

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What is the difference of billboards of men endorsing underwear from women doing the same thing? How really different are bras, panties, briefs from bikinis and trunks?

Nothing.

In both pictures, men and women bare the same 85 percent of flesh and 15 percent of cloth that needs to be advertised to cover their privates. So why were the Philippine Volcanoes billboards singled out?

The incident was a slap on the Advertising Standards Council and the Advertising Board of Philippines.

Aside from marketing its underwear line, Bench reportedly came up with the controversial advertising campaign to create awareness for the Philippine rugby team and enjoin the public to support them; much like the public has become supportive of the Philippine Azkals and futbol.

Billboards are powerful media in advertising. Thousands of citizens are exposed to them every day. It’s true that billboards provide instant influence through visual substances as the consumer catches a glimpse of these giant posters. But because there are thousands of products and services wanting to promote themselves, there are a lot of advertisements coming out with diverse concepts and visuals that cannot please everyone a hundred percent.

Perhaps, standards would not have to be reviewed so as to prevent another incident such as the Volcanoes’ “eruption.” What is important is for standards to be equably applied. As what happened, for billboards on male underwear are torn down while those on lingerie and intimate wear of women are allowed to be erected smacks of sexism and double-standard.

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