Loft withdraws Valentine’s Day campaign in Japan after being called out on sexist imagery

Japanese supermarket franchise Loft has been compelled to withdraw its Valentine’s Day advertising after the work faced accusations of sexism.

The campaign featured a film with a group of girls who are, to all appearances, the best of friends. But the twist in the tale is the last frame which shows them pulling each other’s hair and indulging in otherwise aggressive behaviour.

The visuals were created by graphic artist Chika Takei. The offending images also formed part of the brand’s visual merchandising for the day, including the packaging. The campaign quickly encountered a groundswell of criticism, especially on Twitter.

Users on the social network asked why Loft was running down its primary audience — women  — in an ad for chocolate. In fact, some considered the ads “grotesque” and “behind the times” – according to reports in the Huffington Post Japan and Japan Times.

Loft eventually withdrew the campaign and issued an an apology on Twitter, not just to people offended by the campaign but apparently to Takei as well – who had been commissioned to create the illustration.

A translated version of the tweet from the store stated: “I deeply apologise for the people who have been offended by the visuals of our Valentine’s Day promotion.

“Reflecting the lack of consideration, we will stop the posting of the visual. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience to our customers and the many people involved. Loft Co., Ltd.

“In addition, the illustrations and designs used for this visual posting are those produced by our company’s project, and we apologise for the inconvenience to the author.”

The campaign brought into sharp focus the controversial advertising from Loft’s parent company Seibu and Sogo.

The firm recently ran an ad in which a woman is struck on the face with numerous platefuls of cream, which seemed to belie its inspirational pro-woman message, leaving the audience confused and disturbed according to media reports.


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