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Protestors see red over ‘sexist’ opticians ad

Following on from protests in the U.K. over the "Beach Ready" ad for a protein drink, another European retailer is facing a backlash after its commercial presented women as nothing more than "accessories."

As a result, Multiópticas, a Spanish chain of opticians has this week been the subject of protests by women dressed in alluring clothing, feather boas and lingerie, angry at what they consider a "sexist" commercial.

Multiópticas Protest, Spain
Credit: Laura Zorrilla. (Provided by Yolanda Domínguez)
Multiópticas Protest, Spain

The advert itself, showed a man walking into a "wild west" themed bar filled with women, who immediately turn around to watch him – because he's wearing the brand's glasses – all whilst a voiceover says ""have that incredible first time feeling any time you want."

Visual artist, Yolanda Domínguez, appealed to other women to dress the same as the actors in the commercial, and head to flagship stores of Multiópticas, on Tuesday. Eight protestors were arrested by police in Seville, according to The Local Spain, a news site.

The demonstration received a wide variety of reactions, with some people saying they were insulted and would call the police, to others believing that the company had sent the women to the branches for promotional purposes, according to Ms. Domínguez's website.

Ms. Domínguez and her colleagues called upon Multiópticas to withdraw the commercial from TV, and ask advertisers in general to ensure that their campaigns didn't discriminate against individuals.

"Multiópticas makes an analogy between an object (glasses) and women, characterizing them as "accessible" and "accessory", making them accessible because they are willing and available, because the accessory can be changed as often as you want," she wrote in translated remarks on her site.

Despite only 12 women turning up for the protest, the event has got over 64,400 YouTube views and one post got shared over 41,000 times on Facebook.

Yesterday, Multiópticas responded to the commotion it caused on social media platforms, by saying that they "regret the controversy" and "want to convey their feelings for the misinterpretation."

"The (TV) spot wants to recreate in a free manner that moment when everyone around you notice that you have changed something and you're noted. Time to feel the center of attention: it refers to the entry of the protagonist of the spot, which becomes the target of all eyes. With this idea from "Multiópticas wanted to invite all our customers to feel that feeling of being the center of attention more often," said in a translated statement.

The statement ended with the chain saying they have stopped airing the television advert and will take people's views into consideration for future advertising campaigns.

Multiópticas Protest, Spain
Credit: Sol Salama. (Provided by Yolanda Domínguez)
Multiópticas Protest, Spain

Domínguez told CNBC via email about her thoughts to Multiopticas' campaign, saying that its "negative publicity is not good."

"If Multiópticas, rather than trying to excuse the inexcusable with an argument that makes no sense, had admitted their mistake and withdrawn its ad from TV networks and shops, perhaps they would have regained all those customers who have sworn never to enter in one of their stores again. The negative publicity is not good, they have to be honest, I think that's the biggest value that a brand can offer to its customers," Dominguez told CNBC.

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