'New normal': Raunchy ad by Suitsupply sparks heated debate

Kristine Tarbert
·Features and Health Editor
·3-min read

Amsterdam-based menswear brand Suitsupply has sparked a heated online debate after unveiling its rather risqué ad campaign for the brand's spring/summer 2021 line.

The ads show a sweaty stack of bodies contorted in knotted positions, with the words "The New Normal is Coming" and "Get Ready to Get Closer" added to the imagery.

A new advertisement by menswear brand Suitsupply is raising eyebrows. (Photo: Instagram/Suitsupply)
A new advertisement by menswear brand Suitsupply is raising eyebrows. (Photo: Instagram/Suitsupply)

Given much of Europe, and indeed the world, is still in the grips of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it would be no surprise the advertisement would horrify public health experts, who continue to recommend social distancing and face masks.

Some Instagram commenters also pointed out, "They are not wearing masks".

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There were a few that called the photos "fire" and "shockingly beautiful." 

However another joked, "So about this suit, does it work as advertised?" 

"I want the old normal back!"was another response.

While a third wrote: "Almost made me want to buy a suit that I will not wear for at least another year."

There were plenty of people who also admitted they were confused by the messaging or target audience of the campaign.

"Who exactly is your target audience with this campaign if I may ask?" read one comment; as another wrote, "I don't get it. Is participating in an orgy the new normal?" 

"You guys have been trying way too hard. Nothing about this makes me want to buy a suit or clothes. I am just confused on what the message is," was another honest reaction.

While another wrote: "Stick to what you are good at! An attempt at woke marketing is definitely not it."

Some also claimed Suitsupply borrowed inspiration from designer Tom Ford, famous for his own racy advertisements: "Copy+Paste [=] Tom Ford," was one comment.

In a statement to Yahoo, Suitsupply founder and CEO Fokke de Jong said the campaign was meant to be positive.

“The campaign is simply a positive outlook on our future where people can get back to gathering and getting close," while a brand statement added, "Post-pandemic life is on the horizon. Social distancing for extraordinarily long periods of time have conditioned us to fear proximity of others and that is perfectly justified."

The backlash against the raunchy campaign is similar to that faced by Aussie lingerie brand Honey Birdette.

Models wearing Honey Birdette pose for a photo at The Honey Birdette Bodyguard Collection Launch Party
Aussie label Honey Birdette has often faced criticism for raunchy advertising. Photo: Getty

There have been numerous petitions over the past few years pushing to prevent the underwear retailer from displaying ‘porn-style advertising’ and ‘hyper-sexualised’ images in its shop fronts, which are located in shopping centres frequented by families and young children.

The label has also been accused by some members of the LGBTQ+ community of ‘fetishising’ lesbian relationships in a previous advertisement.

Additional reporting by Elise Solé.

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