Portsmouth university lecturer slams Sainsbury’s dress advert after backlash over disregard for women’s safety

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A MARKETING expert has criticised a controversial Sainsbury’s advert for its ignorance of women’s safety.

Dr Karen Middleton, a senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, called the advert ‘thoughtless’ and ‘poorly timed’.

The billboard ad featured a woman wearing a wrap dress and the words ‘for walks in the park or strolls after dark’ - a slogan which has sparked huge backlash online.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
The advert attracted widespread criticism. Picture: Adobe StockThe advert attracted widespread criticism. Picture: Adobe Stock
The advert attracted widespread criticism. Picture: Adobe Stock

Dr Middleton said: ‘Sainsbury’s advertising gaffe featuring a woman supposedly delighted to be going for a “stroll after dark in the park” – in winter – carrying what looks like a blanket, was as terribly timed as it was thoughtless. Advertising is a cultural magnifier, and this reality is not lost on consumers.’

Shoppers flocked to social media to criticise the ad, with one Twitter user, Eve Maxwell calling it ‘shockingly badly thought out’. Her tweet said: ‘In light of recent events and protests around women's safety this advert is tone deaf and a very bizarre way of saying you do not employ enough women in advertising.’

Since the murder of Sarah Everard in 2021, women’s safety – especially after dark – has been widely discussed by campaigners and charities.

Sainsbury’s is now hastily removing the billboard poster from its stores.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dr Middleton added: ‘While Sainsbury's has apologised and removed the ad, in this world of critical and pressing global challenges, brands are being called upon to do even more to remain relevant, trustworthy and authentic to advertising-savvy consumers.

She added: ‘Brands and companies have a real opportunity to use their cultural platform to advocate for social change, not send us back to the dark ages.’