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« Moaning minnies or control freaks? | Main | Hospital admits defeat and reinstates smoking shelters »

How Bandit's models became the poster girls for Freedom

H/T Dick Puddlecote for drawing this to my attention.

On Monday I mentioned that Bandit Brand, a small American clothing company, had been criticised by the tobacco control industry in New Zealand after a student called Claire McCool (sic) saw a BB poster featuring a model smoking a cigarette.

According to one (inaccurate) report, the poster "shows a teenage girl with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth".

The owner of Bandit has now replied with this almost perfect riposte:

First of all Kelley Ash (the model in the poster etc) is in her 20's, not a teenager.

Secondly I totally get where you are coming from and I don't smoke now but I did as a teenager and I didn't start because ad's made it look cool, I started because I was bored and there was nothing for a girl that wasn't into sports etc to do after school.

Third I don't ask my models to smoke, if the smoke they smoke and we shoot all of our shoots with friends and basically have a party at my house and the photographer takes photos. I would never ask someone to smoke for a photo for my brand, that is ridiculous. These are consenting adults.

I have a 20 year old son who smoked and it drove me crazy (he has quit and I am proud of him) but he is also intelligent enough not to smoke because he saw someone in a band smoke or .... Lets please Give kids more credit than that. The problem of kids smoking, drinking and doing drugs almost always stems from boredom, lack of creative things to do in our communities, parents setting shit examples and/or lack of parental guidance.

Fourth no one gives a shit if a model is eating a cheeseburger!!?? which not only is unhealthy and full of chemicals but also causes the suffering of another living being. No one cares if a hot dog made of pigs ass holes and lips is in a photo shoot... I don't give a shit if humans die of something they did to themselves, thats on them not me.

and LAST probably about 100th of the people would have seen this photo but now you have promoted it all over your countries newspapers and websites. WAY TO GO.

Now that's how to respond to the nanny state brigade.

I also love some of the comments on Bandit's Facebook page:

"You do NOT have to explain yourself. Fuck them!"

"Any publicity is good publicity I say. The controversy will more than likely work in your favour. Who doesn't love a brand with attitude, originality and not to mention non conforming. I have quite a few of your items and I will continue to purchase. Love your work :)"

"I'm also enjoying that they pointed out the models are tattooed... Cos that's a problem!"

"Hello, BANDIT brand! Screw those turds!"

PS. Bandit's address is Freedom, California.

Image: Bandit Brand

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Reader Comments (9)

After reading this artice I believe Bandit Brand and subsequently, your article has misdirected criticsm. Bandit Brand's statement is far from the perfect ripost. It fails to respond to the real issue at heart.

The main basis of the complaint, is not regarding smokers per se. Obviously smokers are entitled to make their own choices and can do as they please. The issue is, the target market Wild Pair is selling to is teenagers. High school's a breading ground for insecurities and subsequently there's a lot of pressure to conform. I believe glamorizing this behaviour by promoting it through sexy images distorts the perceptions of a vulnerable demographic.

Regardless of your position on the matter, her complaint was written with good intentions. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths and the majority of smokers start in their adolescence. We want to help give kids the bright, healthy futures they deserve. For it should be remembered, today's youth is tomorrow's future.

I have several issues with Bandit Brand's statement:

1) The author never suggested the model was a teenager. The issue is, the poster has been displayed in a clothing store which it's target demographic is teenagers.

2) She states there was nothing other to do than "sports etc" - how can you compare leisure activities with a habit? She also claims she wasn't influenced by ads. She's obviously failing to recognize how marketing subliminally affects your decisions. While you may think you have objectively made this decision independently, it's impossible to be able to seperate that. Also, her opinion does not also qualify how much teens are influenced by the media. It is no secret the media has negatively impacted on teens, who are easily susceptible to images & what it is to be "cool" or "non-conformist".

3) At no point was it even suggested in the article she pressured her models to smoke for the shoot. I assume she's doing this to cover any liability. I must say, It's a little ironic she's proud of her son for quitting smoking & yet she's showing her approval by splashing it through her marketing campaign. She also states "he's intelligent enough not to smoke" - conversely implying if you do smoke you're unintelligent - A little mixed message if you ask me.

I'm not going to go as far as claiming she's a bad parent, but after she lists "parents setting shit examples and/or lack of parental guidance" as a reason for kids smoking - she casts a bad light on herself, given her son smoked. This is not my opinion, these were her own words.

5) Comparing cheese burgers and hotdogs to the leading preventable death in New Zealand is ridiculous!! Smoking is a global pandemic. Furthermore, comparing one bad decision with another does not make either legitimate. I also noticed subsequent comments regarding tatto'd models etc - tattoo's do not kill people - come on! Essentially, these kind of comments just reflects the misdirection of the critique.

6) claiming the author is urging a "nanny state brigade" indicates she is completely missing the mark with the intention of this article. Implying living a smoke free lifestyle is boring is just nonsensical.

7) As per the comments, they are just as misguided as Bandit Brand. One person comments that she appreciates they are non-conforming. Given this article is in relation to smoking - arguing being a non-smoker is conformist is blind stupidity. You have selected the comment "screw those terds" as authority your argument, it show's the substance of the statements you had to chose from was incredibly weak.

Obviously this has stimulated a lot of media attention for Bandit Brand. But there has been a significant amount of backlash. I'm sure they have came out on top over this but this was not the focus of the concern of the author. Rather, the author appears to be disappointed the clothing store Wild Pair is using this image to market their clothes to teens.

I would just like to concluse by saying, I hope you might reconsider your position after I have put forward a more well-rounded basis for the complaint. I believe the argument has been clouded and we need to return the focus of this artcile.

Why this is of particular concern is that retail stores hold a powerful and influential position in society. Essentially, they dictate what is “cool” or acceptable and what isn’t. In particular, the youth demographic are particularly vulnerable and susceptible to marketing tactics and are subsequently easily influenced. Teenagers are immensely pressured into fitting into society’s standard of “cool”. This is of course, a self-perpetuated desire fuelled by marketing.

Wild Pair advertising in their stores to teens is the issue here. I think the author was looking out for their best interests, not causing trouble or attempting to go PC Wild.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 11:25 | Unregistered CommenterShevaughn

Good God! You could write a novel in response to Shevaughn's piece. The self righteous, assumptive and opinionated, arrogance is breathtaking and, unfortunately, so typical of antis.

There's no point in asking them to look in a mirror. They wouldn't see it if it slapped them in the face.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 12:13 | Unregistered CommenterFrank J

Shevaughn, you’re a product of the time, as is McCool: You’re enthusiastic bandwagon riders.

One of many failings of contemporary antismoking fanatics is that they have no grasp of history….. even recent history. Antismoking is not new. It has a long, sordid history, much of it predating even the pretense of a scientific basis or the more recent concoction of secondhand smoke “danger”. Antismoking crusades typically run on inflammatory propaganda, i.e., lies, in order to get law-makers to institute bans. The current antismoking rhetoric has all been heard before. All it produces is irrational fear and hatred, discord, enmity, animosity, social division, and bigotry.

America and Germany were rife with dangerous zealotry early last century. Anti-tobacco/alcohol was pushed by both the Temperance (religious leanings) and Eugenics (physician-led) Movements. The latter was by far the most influential with law-makers.

These zealots produced [fake] moralizing ad nauseam. They convinced the legislature that they were going to produce a better humanity as evidenced by some of the titles of their organizations, e.g., Human Betterment Foundation. Rather, the only thing they produced was utter catastrophe, particularly in and through Germany.

The current antismoking bandwagon has been allowed to flourish due to moral destitution at a societal level. Particularly when the wealthy and the bourgeoisie deteriorate into psychological, emotional, relational, and moral shallowness, they start looking for substitutes. Tobacco and alcohol have been favorite substitutes. The morally shallow convince themselves that they are really “moral” because they don’t smoke, for example. It’s all dangerous fakery.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 13:28 | Unregistered CommenterWhat!!

“We want to help give kids the bright, healthy futures they deserve.”

Shevaughn, while you might think that you are making some profound, moral statement, it’s actually sanctimonious blathering. These sorts of statements were heard early last century. Let’s understand what you’re actually saying. You’re implying that those who smoke are “write-offs”, a sort of “lesser being”. You’re implying that those who smoke are set on a bleak, terrible path that people like you are trying to “save” the current generation from. Shevaughn, have you lost your marbles entirely? You’re simply making bigoted statements.

Post-WWII and until the current antismoking craze took hold, smoking was viewed as “normal”. That’s why the fanatics had to go to great lengths to “denormalize” the habit. Unfortunately, much of the “denormalization” is predicated on a litany of inflammatory lies. That’s how the vulgar activity of denormalization usually proceeds.

Shevaughn, let me state again, you’re a product of the time. You’re now a disciple of the antismoking cult whose primary belief is that they must not be exposed to even the most minute remnant of tobacco smoke lest they become “contaminated”, and to “save” the precious young ones from this “terrible addiction”. Consider McCool. She’s most probably been raised through a schooling system that has indoctrinated many antismoking points into her impressionable mind. While all sorts of social trash has been “normalized” (de-sensitized) in the interim, McCool and her peers have been hyper-sensitized to anything to do with tobacco smoking; so hyper-sensitized that even a poster displaying a model with cigarette evokes such “disgust” as to warrant some sort of action.

Shevaughn, you don’t impress me as a superior thinker; quite the contrary. The moral high ground you think you occupy is shifting sand. If you’ve taught your children these sickly, fanatical beliefs about those who smoke, you’re the bad parent. And there are many like you, all happy to ride the bigotry bandwagon. It’s symptomatic of a deteriorating phase.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 13:30 | Unregistered CommenterWhat!!

Is Shevaughn actually a real person? The emphasis placed upon the simplistic idea of 'marketing' sounds very much like a press release from that advertising agency know as ASH.
Are teenagers individuals are are they 'a vulnerable demographic'? Are they all thirteen years old, or sixteen years old or nineteen years old? Are they children or adults? Are all these people orphans or do they have parents to advise and guide them?
It strikes me that Shevaughn is not actually complaining about tobacco - he/she is talking about the marketing industry.
Oh, and the phrase "Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths and the majority of smokers start in their adolescence" is a typical ASH conflation of two separate entities. Take the sentence apart:
"Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths" I have a graph from Doll's Doctors Study. It shows that, despite the fact that the age at which people take us smoking is nineteen and a half years of age, nothing much happens until about the age of sixty, when both smokers and non-smokers start to die off rapidly at about the same rate and from the same diseases. In other words, the dire, supposed effect of smoking only occurs in old age.
"The majority of smokers start in their adolescence"
Again, I refer to Doll's Doctors Study, where Doll specifically states that the age of starting to smoke averages at nineteen and a half. Doll defines a smoker as one who smokers 'as much as one cigarette per day for as long as one year'. He does not include 14 year olds who have a crafty drag on a fag behind the bike sheds occasionally.
Has Shevaughn done any research or is he/she simply spouting the misleading content of ASH press releases?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 15:37 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Did Shevaughn swallow the entire online content of the Guardian and just vomit out random paragraphs?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 17:25 | Unregistered CommenterClemmie Regan

I suggest that Shevaugn reads Dr.Finch's Baconian analysis of anti-smoking data.
Which is more of a problem: teenagers smoking dope, taking ecstasy, abusing alcohol, or a crafty fag behind the bike sheds?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 17:33 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Shev's post provides wonderful support for the wider general point that Simon is making in his initial piece about Bandit.

To note several points in particular:

1) "Comparing cheese burgers and hotdogs to the leading preventable death in New Zealand is ridiculous!!"

Not at all ridiculous. The American Heart Association believes roughly half of all cardiac deaths are diet-related and the American Cancer Society believes a third of all cancer deaths are diet-related. That's about 800,000 U.S. deaths per year: roughly double the claims for smoking-related deaths.

2) "Smoking is a global pandemic."

Nice sound bite, and gives a window as to Shev's background.

3) "Obviously smokers are entitled to make their own choices and can do as they please."

Really? Is that why there's an organized push to ban people from smoking in their own homes unless they're wealthy enough to afford stand-alone housing? Is that why there's an organized push to encourage employers to refuse to hire smokers altogether?

5) "glamorizing this behaviour by promoting it through sexy images distorts the perceptions of a vulnerable demographic."

If their ads consistently showed more than 25% of their models smoking, then this complaint might hold some water. Do they? I doubt it. Do any of their ads contain any alcohol imagery? Alcohol is a far more serious death threat to that age group than tobacco.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 2:56 | Unregistered CommenterMichael J. McFadden

I am just pleased I am never likely to meet Shevaughn in person at a dinner party.

I would take up smoking at the table just to piss someone like that off.

Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 20:23 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

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