Swedish phone company Rebtel is offering unlimited calls to India. To promote that, it chose to have four topless women dance in the middle of Times Square, covered only in body paint.
The four women danced to popular Indian tune “Chammak Challo,” and held up a sign displaying Rebtel’s logo and the words “Gives you something to talk about — #IndiaUnlimited” as they finished.
In response to a lot of criticism, Rebtel explained its position: “We believe in equal rights for women and men, and that women should have the same right to their body as men. That’s why we were inspired by ‘Free the Nipple‘, a movement and film that exposes the double standards regarding female nudity in the United States.”
The company said it saw a “link between unlimited calling and freedom of expression,” and the stunt was just how it “chose to stand out as a rebellious brand.”
“Just because we sell a product, doesn’t mean we can’t participate in a social movement,” Rebtel added. The company said that its ultimate goal was to “introduce this movement to the traditionally conservative culture of India.”
Free the Nipple is an equality movement started by activist and filmmaker Lina Esco, who observed that it is a criminal offence for a woman to walk topless in New York, but not a man. Ultimately, the now-worldwide campaign seeks to stop society from sexualising women’s breasts.
Rebtel, on the other hand, had naked women dance to promote a new product.
“It is a clear example of sexism in marketing where women’s bodies are used to gain attention to a company or merchandise,” Johanna Dahlin, organising secretary at the Swedish Women’s Lobby, told Swedish Startup Space. “There is no great rethinking related to this sort of marketing, at all. On the contrary, it is old.”
Rebtel also released a video from the point of view of the dancers in the campaign:
Warning: This video contains nudity that some readers may find offensive.
We’ve reached out to Rebtel and “Free the Nipple” for this story and will update it with any response.
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