Thirty-one-year-old account manager Jana Verkovic has been given a rare public role defending her company, cutting-edge advertising agency Fresh Juice, against allegations of sexism. After a billboard ad depicting two scantily-clad models lapping from a bowl of milk under the caption “Drink Milk” attracted a record number of complaints, Verkovic appeared on ABC radio to speak in its defense.
“I don’t think it’s a sexist ad, no” she said. “It’s just a bit of harmless fun really, a take on a traditional product that has a bit of edge to it. Working in advertising, we know that women are very savvy consumers – they know when there’s irony at play, and they embrace it. These ads project images of women who are powerful, aware of their sexuality, and know what they want. I think that’s a positive thing.”
“We don’t want anyone to be offended by the ad,” said Verkovic, omitting to mention that her agnecy had specifically relied on some “activist types” being offended to generate widespread coverage. She also used the broadcast as an opportunity to call herself “a feminist” for the first time, and invoked the support of academic Catharine Lumby, a woman whose work she has never read.
Verkovic went on to argue that the ad would have a significant health benefit for women “and young women in particular”, pointing out that women get insufficient dietary calcium, a major cause of osteoporosis. She also suggested that the buxom figures of the models involved promoted a healthy body image, and because of this they were “positive body role models”, despite them having been airbrushed.
The executives comments were also reported in The Sydney Morning Herald, which used as story on the controversy to as a flimsy excuse to reproduce the image in a prominent postion on their website.