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Posted by Artists and other concerned citizens of New York and New Jersey on May 24, 2005 at 13:08:24:

Contact: Ms. Donna Ferrato

May 03, 2005
Artists and other concerned citizens of New York and New Jersey are convening a press conference to demand the immediate withdrawal of an extremely degrading Michelob beer advertisement of a headless woman’s torso in a red bikini painted on the floor of the Path station in Hoboken. The ad, which is blatantly disrespectful and offensive to all women, is placed in such a manner that thousands of commuters, who use the Path trains, have no choice but to walk on the woman’s body.

Activists will gather for a press conference and an artistic protest in which rose petals will be used to cover the body of the woman.

Women’s rights activists believe that debasing women through advertising is disconcerting because ads like this one promoting Michelob beer are not unrelated to increased incidents of violence against women. These ads uphold a culture that systematically and overtly devalues women. Last year in New York City, female homicides, murder by intimate partners, rose by 28%.

Advertising strategies, especially of the beer industry, are notorious for consistently objectifying women’s bodies and using them as marketing tools. This needs to be stopped. Through this protest, activists are specifically calling on the marketing personnel of beer companies to undergo gender sensitization training so that such ads are prevented in the future.

The activists contacted Anheuser-Busch, Inc. asking for an immediate withdrawal of the ad, which has not happened yet. Complaint letters were also sent to the Mayor of Hoboken and the Port Authorities of NYC and NJ requesting intervention by them and no action has been taken.

“The war on women is here in Hoboken. The faceless woman in this ad represents each and every American woman and our bodies are not for sale. Michelob, the Mayor of Hoboken, and Port Authority have all crossed the line. Remove this advertisement or else we will not ride the train,” asserts photographer Donna Ferrato.

Mr. Patrick Stokes May 12, 2005

President and Chief Executive Officer
One Busch Place
St. Louis, MO 63118

Dear Mr. Stokes:

I am writing on behalf of Equality Now, an international human rights organization that works for the protection and promotion of the fundamental rights of women and girls around the world. The mission of Equality Now is to end violence and discrimination against women and girls through the Women’s Action Network, an effective force comprised of over 25,000 individuals and organizations in over 160 countries around the world that have the capacity to mobilize public pressure and provides rapid response mechanisms that can end discriminatory laws and practices.

Last week, we received a call from Donna Ferrato, the executive director of the Domestic Violence Awareness Project and a resident of Hoboken, New Jersey about a Michelob ad painted on the floor of the Hoboken station of the PATH train. As you must be aware, the ad in question features a headless woman in a scant red bikini. Thousands of commuters have no choice but to step on the image of this woman every day, leaving footprints on her exposed body.

Equality Now was present at the press conference and protest of the Michelob ad that was held in Hoboken on Friday, May 9, 2005 at which the Mayor of Hoboken was also present, providing his support. In the television coverage that ensued, your colleague Francine Katz, Vice President of Communications and Consumer Affairs stated that Equality Now would do better if it issued temporary orders of protection to victims of domestic violence. At no point did Donna Ferrato, I or anyone at Equality Now have the opportunity to speak with Ms. Katz, nor have we issued any statement about domestic violence. We were surprised and disappointed to note that instead of agreeing with concerned citizens and consumers that the ad must be removed, Anheuser-Busch took a defensive stance with a statement that had no relevance to the issue at hand.

We are calling for the immediate removal of the said Michelob ad from the floor of the PATH train. Equality Now believes that corporations have a social responsibility to produce and distribute advertisement that is not degrading to and does not objectify women. The image of thousands of footprints on a woman’s body is not a responsible way to sell your alcoholic beverages, including Michelob beer. Instead, Anheuser-Busch should establish panels of gender-sensitive advisors who can help ensure that your advertising campaigns promote respect and dignity of women as human beings.

I trust that Anheuser-Busch and Michelob will remove the ad in question on the floor on the PATH train and in any other floor around the country immediately. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you soon and thank you in advance for your prompt action in this case.

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