Most Disturbing Ad of the Year

Sweet Jesus. (trigger warning for that link). Thanks, Duncan Quinn, for advertising your suits with an image of a man who appears to have strangled an underwear-clad woman on the hood of a car. Gotta love it when images of dead or drugged women are sexy enough to sell men’s clothes.

Image below the fold.



, originally uploaded by JillNic83.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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89 Responses to Most Disturbing Ad of the Year

  1. Cara says:

    WHAT THE FUCK.

    Okay, where do I write?

  2. Jill says:

    The contact section of the store’s website seems to be down, otherwise I would have linked it. If it goes back up, I’ll include contact info.

  3. Kate says:

    There are no words. Who the fuck decided this was a good idea? How did no one at the company who saw this before production stop and go, “Hey, maybe this isn’t such a good idea for an ad.”

  4. Cara says:

    But, but Kate, it’s artistic. I’m sure that we’re just too stupid to get it. In fact, I bet that any minute now someone will show up to explain it to us and point out how we’re all really over-reacting.

  5. BeccaTheCyborg says:

    What the hell? Seriously? It’s like they were trying to go for an old-school Weegee photo, but decided all the human pathos needs to be taken out and replaced by misogynist soft-core.

  6. Eva says:

    This is so upsetting. Please do post any contact information if you find it.

  7. Dreamweasel says:

    Good Lord.

    Well, now I know which designer I won’t be supporting the next time I’m in the market for a new suit.

    As luck would have it, the appearance of the suit itself makes my decision even easier.

  8. Bagelsan says:

    Is the darker patch on the car behind her head just a shadow…? I can’t tell.

  9. Cara says:

    Sure doesn’t look like a shadow to me.

  10. Suzanne says:

    this is disgusting and excessively disturbing. I’d like to formally complain too, whoever gets contact info

  11. JuneCarter says:

    Clearly, the ad says that men wearing Duncan Quinn suits are so disgusting that the only way they could ever even get close to a beautiful woman in her underwear is by killing her.

  12. Ghoast says:

    Wow… pretty f’n lame/stupid/bad….
    agreed with BeccaTheCyborg in that it seems like a most pathetic WeeGee ripoff.
    Also, What is the deal with the stupid/pathetic look on the guy’s face?
    Also, not a good looking suit.

  13. Kristen says:

    Cara,

    Lemme see if I can remember how that argument goes…

    1) You women are so uptight. [Referring to us as “You” always a winner. And our perceived uptightness is inevitability mentioned at some point.]

    2) The woman in the picture is sexy. [Because dead is sexy. The commenter failing to note that hir own screwed up perception of vulnerable women accessible and therefore attractive is in fact part of our sexist culture.]

    3) Sex sells. [Because pointing out the obvious is important and if something is true, that automatically makes it ethically correct.]

    4) You women are just jealous. [See comment one. Women only turn to feminism if they are not conventionally attractive, thus all feminists are ugly and our disapproval of the current treatment of women is rooted not in a desire for social justice and equality, but in a catty, juvenile, mean-girls jealousy.]

    Does that about sum it up?

  14. Morningstar says:

    so i saw the title of this blog post, and was all prepared to show something worse….

    but then i saw the pic.

    and, yeah this beats everything. wow.

  15. ncarbide says:

    So far as I can tell, this is meant to be an “homage” to Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy — you know, the classic film that glamorizes “the Necktie Killer,” the kind of gentlemanly serial rapist/murderer we all know and love.

    Jesus H. Christ on a Christmas cruise at sea. So much more offended by this than I can begin to say.

  16. Suzanne says:

    http://duncanquinn.com/contact.html

    contact info, at least something.

  17. sassmouth says:

    Kristen, I’m pretty sure Cara was being sarcastic.

  18. Colleen says:

    Hello, my dears, this ad is absolutely appalling.

    First of all, I hate to bring up a really obvious point (pardon me if anyone else has mentioned), but the very idea that the woman is in her underwear PLUS violence — my mind leads to rape. I know we’re all thinking it, but I’m saying the word straight out.

    Secondly, Duncan Quinn is on 8 Spring St. I’ll find an email shortly.

    Third, the majority of consumers do not process the actual image of an ad. I’m sure many viewers found this to be really cool, mafiaesque, or creepy in a serial-killer-i’m-so-gully-and-dangerous kind of way.

    Not. Cool.

  19. Cara says:

    Sassmouth, I’m 99.9999% sure that Kristen was, too.

  20. Ginger says:

    Misogyny never goes out of style!

  21. Ashlee says:

    One word: disgusting.

  22. Kristen says:

    Sassmouth,

    Argghhh….my humor is foiled again by the lack of a /sarcasm. Clearly, the intranets need a sarcasm font.

  23. rachel says:

    look at the expression on that f*cker’s face too. sort of staring out at the audience with pride in what he’s just done.

    “sex sells” yes, but i fail to see how this ad is even successful…what is supposed to make us come away from the ad wanting to buy that ugly suit? it just pisses me off. men’s brains must be hard-wired differently so they can appreciate this type of “advertising”

  24. Sanford says:

    http://duncanquinn.com/contact.html is the working Contact link.

  25. Astronaut says:

    My first initial reaction was BDSM. So was a coworker. Thought they belonged to a bondage sex club. Murder never even crossed our minds. One Man’s opine. Necktie is a leash. She’s too clean to be murdered.

  26. Bagelsan says:

    men’s brains must be hard-wired differently so they can appreciate this type of “advertising”

    I would advise that you *avoid* turning this issue into a gender-essentialist/male-brain thing. It has no place in a feminist space like this, and really only functions to cover over the *real* problem, which is that our culture promotes this kind of image and encourages the few men who really *do* like this sort of sexualized violence to splatter it all over the public consciousness as something desirable to everyone.

  27. Cara says:

    Astronaut for the win!

  28. Pingback: What the hell is this?! « Better burn that dress, sister.

  29. Pingback: Ad-dict: Duncan Quinn

  30. smc says:

    what the fuck. seriously?

  31. Andrew says:

    to info@duncanquinn.com
    date Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 6:37 PM
    subject your recent ad

    http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2008/12/december_editorials.html#photo=7

    Are you people bat-shit insane?

    Public apology. Now.

    Or say goodbye to any chance whatsoever of me or anyone I know ever buying one of your products.


    Thanks and best,

    Andrew R

  32. spoof says:

    Astronaut – I think that excuse/idea is rather weak, as the ad could have easily evoked BDSM in everyone’s mind if they wanted to. In fact, it looks like they are trying to steer as far away from bdsm as possibly by putting her in clean white lace.

    And really, she just plain looks dead with the un-posed positioning and limp wrist.

  33. Chris says:

    “men’s brains must be hard-wired differently so they can appreciate this type of “advertising””

    Um, no.

    “My first initial reaction was BDSM. So was a coworker. Thought they belonged to a bondage sex club. Murder never even crossed our minds. One Man’s opine. Necktie is a leash. She’s too clean to be murdered.”

    Astronaut, it sure looks like there is blood seeping out from her head, but I can’t tell for certain. As far as how “clean” she is, the ad is clearly meant to be sexually stimulating, at least to sick fucks, and I guess Duncan Quinn thought that too much blood or bruising would “mess up” the “sexiness” of a woman’s limp, dead body…*vomits uncontrollably*

  34. emrez49 says:

    I’m going to have to disagree with Astronaut. One, I don’t think the woman in this photo appears to be “clean.” Though at first glance, maybe it could be BDSM, but the woman seems to be unconscious. Plus, though I know there’s debate about it above, I’m not convinced the darkness behind her head is just a shadow – it sure looks like it could be blood to me. She’s barely clothed; he is fully clothed, standing over her seemingly lifeless body (if not lifeless, then certainly unconscious). And to me, it’s like he’s looking at the camera with this smirk on his face that says, “Hey! Look what I did. Aren’t I such a stud?

    So, though I’m sure BDSM photos could be done in a tasteful, woman-positive manner, I don’t think this is an example of anything but the continuation of the glamorization of violence against women.

  35. Colleen says:

    Uhhh…. hello? There’s BLOOD on the hood of the car! Clean!?!

  36. Lena says:

    Colleen- Yes yes yes!

    The disgusting smug look on his face really creeps me out. How in the rickety blue hells did this become acceptable?

    ARGH.

  37. Rach says:

    info@duncanquinn.com

    Everyone should be giving Duncan Quinn a piece of their mind.

    That’s repulsive

  38. Renee says:

    As disgusting as this image is, this kind of thing has become common place. I have lost the ability to be shocked. This is not artistic it simply promotes violence against women as a way of preserving hyper masculinity. Misogyny is ground into our culture, yet apparently there is no need feminism. What scares me is that someone will look at this image and decide to make it real. These advertisers don’t realize by promoting this as normal it just encourages men to believe that they have the right to do violence to women

  39. Bagelsan says:

    Yeah, sure, it’s probably just BDSM! …BDSM without, yanno, any indication of consent, and with one of the parties being a pretty damn dead-looking body draped lifelessly over a car with a bleeding head wound, instead of a person enjoying themselves in a mutual sexual act…

    So, completely unlike BDSM in other words.

    (Is this going to be the new thing? “It wasn’t a “violent rape”! It was just surprise-stranger-BDSM-sex without a safeword!”)

  40. Kat says:

    You know, BDSM would be a plausible argument if the woman didn’t look like she was about to slide off the car, but for the tie pulling her back. Her arm is splayed out, her wrist is limp. She doesn’t appear engaged in the act or even conscious.
    A model that resembles a corpse wouldn’t just slide by photographers, ad execs and creative directors. If they wanted to evoke BDSM to the average viewer, they could have done that easily…even a little back arch and arm movement, and facial expression for the woman.

    And “too clean to be murdered?” Looks like there is a disturbing comment of the year to go along with the ad.

  41. annalouise says:

    hmmm….so granny panties and ugly plaid suits are the new leather and chains? Grinnning like a goober at the camera is the new spanking? Taking a nap in yr granny panties is the new getting a spanking?

    Even if Astronaut is right…why is Duncan Quinn glorifying boring unfashionable sex?

    I’d almost be comforted to know that the “murder is sexxay” subtext is the correct one.

  42. aftercancer says:

    I’ve was looking at the shot again after sending the obligatory what kind of twisted twit are you and I think the dark area behind and around her head is supposed to be her hair. I suspect some serious photoshopping was likely done to make us ask the question.

  43. Michelle says:

    If it was made as like, a BDSM picture, it wouldn’t be much better. Man clothed, woman not, woman enjoying the violence with the back arch and happy moaning face or whatever. It would just be interpretted that women LIKE violence. See: John McCains rape joke.

  44. SarahMC says:

    BDSM? BDSM?

    The woman is not participating in the so-called BDSM here. She is limp and lifeless. Though I guess that’s pretty fuckin’ sexy to some of the sick assholes out there.
    This ad is glorifying sexualized violence (MURDER!) against women. I guess the company must have done some focus groups and discovered that misogyny would sell the most suits. Some days I don’t know how I can go on.

  45. Jill says:

    BDSM? Wow. Just wow.

  46. Radfem says:

    I sent mine in.

    I am writing you to express my concern as a woman who just read about your advertisement at this site. I can’t believe that someone thinks murdered women is an appropriate motif to use to sell a product.

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2008/12/11/most-disturbing-ad-of-the-year/#more-10131

    I saw your ad and nearly threw up at the photo of a barely clad woman who’s been strangled on the hood of a car. How dare you use such an image to sell your product and you should be really ashamed of yourself. I write this as someone whose family friend lost her daughter to two men who abducted her, raped her, sodomized her, injected cleaning bleach into her body to torture her and then they strangled her and left her naked body on a hillside. Maybe you can get a crime scene photo from that murder and that of the 17 or so other women brutally murdered in this manner and use them for your next advertising campaign.

    Perhaps you could also send Kenneth Bianchi who’s sitting in a prison right now in Washington a copy of your advertisement. Maybe he’ll appreciate its intent and purchase whatever it is that this ad is selling, besides violence against women. It’s unfortunate that the other killer, Angelo Bueno died in prison before he could see your advertisement and enjoy it as well.

    In closing, to say this advertisement with your name on it is in poor taste would be understatement. It’s just disgusting. But I guess you could be thanked for sending out an eloquent reminder that misogyny against women is still an appropriate tool to sell products.

    Sincerely,

  47. Bagelsan says:

    I think the dark area behind and around her head is supposed to be her hair.

    Half of that dark mass is clearly her hair, but the stuff closer to him doesn’t look like even badly-photoshopped hair.

  48. SarahMC says:

    I also love that men who model clothing in ads don’t even need to be half as attractive as their female counterparts.

  49. ilyka says:

    Bonus points for originality on the BDSM “argument,” too. Classic! Timeless! Not at all last season!

  50. Dreamweasel says:

    “Hey, serial killers! Are you looking forward to murdering a hot chick in her underwear, but worried that you won’t look enough like a smug, badly dressed Amway salesman while doing it? Well, have we got a deal for you!”

  51. Jeff says:

    Can you say “Smell the Glove”?

  52. Vera says:

    Is there a consumer watchdog of some kind to complain to? Just in case the tasteless marketing team that created this ad and the delusional guy who OK’d it thinks that any publicity is good publicity.

  53. evil_fizz says:

    Bonus points for originality on the BDSM “argument,” too. Classic! Timeless! Not at all last season!

    Obviously, ilyka. The photographer obviously forgot to discuss safe words! I knew people were on to something in that last thread.

    There’s something about sexual violence apologists that makes them think they’re novel. Can’t imagine what that might be.

  54. Chris says:

    Shouldn’t we also write to City for publishing this ad in their magazine? That might have more of an effect than writing to Duncan Quinn.

  55. Cara says:

    Chris makes an important and excellent point.

  56. Chris Worden says:

    He looks like Toby from The Office.

  57. Kate says:

    I’m pretty sure that dark area is the dark background behind the guy – or rather the not-dark area is his suit and arm, then directly behind her head is the reflection of his right hand, but due to the curvature of the car and the lighting, there’s a void. Either way, the ad is absolutely disgusting.

  58. Kristin says:

    I cannot believe people are suggesting that this must be BDSM. This is a clear depiction of a violent murder (after a probable rape). Not BDSM.

  59. rachel says:

    to the people that didn’t like my men’s brains comment, it was sarcasm…sorry did not make that plain…

  60. W. Kiernan says:

    What the Hell are they selling there, hand guns? “Ladies, don’t let this happen to you! Buy the new Glock 26! It’ll blow a hole in would-be rapists you can toss a grapefruit through. Our model 26 is light, compact to fit in your purse, and our ‘G26-for-her’ model comes with powder pink grips, specially sculptured for the more petite hand.”

  61. Bagelsan says:

    Kristin — I think only astronaut made that comparison in any seriousness. I’m pretty sure everyone after that was mocking him. :D

  62. Pingback: Dead Sexy « Bricolage

  63. Kendra says:

    If you want to email or write to express your disgust, here’s where to direct it:

    info@duncanquinn.com
    NYC Store: 8 Spring Street, New York, NY, 10012, 212 226 7030
    LA Store: 8380 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90069

  64. Jade says:

    BDSM? I’m kinky and I can tell you that’s not the first thing I thought of! She’s not concious, she’s been stripped, and she does look either dead or passed out drunk (or drugged). There are millions of better ways to give a BDSM feel to an ad, but that doesn’t look like what they were going for here. The smug look on his face seems to say, “Look what I bagged, fellas! You too can possess your own lifeless body to do with as you please if you buy my stuff!” (Exaggerating a bit there, but you get my point.)

    Ugh.

  65. Chris says:

    Rachel, don’t worry about it. :) Sorry for the snippy reply.

  66. 1916 says:

    That is one HIDEOUS jacket!

  67. Froufrou says:

    I think I’m going to be sick…I hadn’t had such a gut reaction to pictures in a while.
    How how how how how can ANYONE fail to see this is wrong??
    BDSM, my foot. I may not know much about it but I’d say that anyone participating needs to be fucking conscious for anything to happen.
    I have nothing to add that would be particularly constructive, have sent my email to the concerned, and there’s for my 2 cents.
    I am so, so sad that pictures like this actually get made.

  68. Adam says:

    Great piece of advertising. The suit looks stunning.
    People need to accept the art of others. Now I use caution to this term, because this is ONLY A PHOTOSHOOT; not “art”, the term some people use to do the real sick demented things, and pass it as an artform. So there really is no reason for this “oh I’m going to be sick” shit. Yes, I am against the real nature of murder or harm against another soul, human or animal. But in this world, everything safe is boring, and we pass it by daily. Human nature is always going to want something more (sadly – this is why greed has fucked the world’s economy). Unless your a monk, or Yogi and have given up all desire, advertising is there to bring out emotions in everyone – Good or bad.
    Now get some balls and turn the page.

  69. Jill says:

    I suppose it was only a matter of time before a dickbag like Adam showed up.

    A request to the internet-gods: Can we at least get some halfway intelligent dickbags up in here?

  70. Colleen says:

    Getting some balls and turning the page is exactly the hum-drum bullshitty attitude that gets so much pisspoor legislation passed, or why crimes go unsolved, or kids become more ignorant, more racist, more hateful – people just TURN THE PAGE.

    Sooner or later, you’ll see real pictures of violence and you’ll just turn the page – like it doesn’t even matter. Sorry, Adam, but some of us still have a conscious and care about what is put out into the world. I’m not turning the page. I’ll light that shit on fire first.

  71. Colleen says:

    I mean, SERIOUSLY “get some balls”!?! Get some balls and take a stand is more like it!

  72. SarahMC says:

    Get some balls and be complacent, bitchez.

  73. Cara says:

    If “get some balls” means “be more like Adam,” as it certainly seems to, what a grave insult to those who have balls.

  74. Chris says:

    *checks balls*

    Yep, still there. What the presence or absence of balls has to do with anything, I have no fucking clue.

  75. T.C. says:

    Needless to say, this ad is despicable in every way.

    And, Adam, get yourself some culture and learn the difference between art and advertising, and the different implications of both.

    But, in regard to the dark spot behind her head… c’mon! It’s clearly a reflection of the man. You can cleary see the light and dark parts of his suit and where the tie he’s holding is diverging from the rest of the reflection. This ad doesn’t need assumed implications to make it worse… it’s plenty bad enough without any assumptions about “dark spots”.

  76. Cara says:

    I see the reflection you’re talking about now that you mention it, T.C., but that’s not the “dark spot” I’m looking at. We’re looking to the left of the light reflection that you pointed out, in between the reflection and her hair.

  77. PrinceWillie says:

    I must say though, the tailoring of the suit is sublime, and that a lovely car. Vintage?

  78. RealityCentral says:

    You people are batty. Is the picture edgy, sure? Does it condone rape and murder…. only if you want it to.

    I’m heading in there to get a new suit. I see that the fit is perfect.

  79. Jill says:

    Just out of curiosity, where are you charming new commenters coming from?

  80. Chris says:

    “Does it condone rape and murder…. only if you want it to.”

    Yeah, just like it only condones going out and buying a Duncan Quinn suit if you want it to.

    Dumbass.

  81. Liselle says:

    Sweet Jesus, she’s smiling in the picture people… how do you miss that?

  82. Im a little old fashined I guess but I think the guy is a big creep and would gladley puch him in the nose just for the suite but more for the way he tries to portray a successful man and in general that he is a dominent male and a role model for other guys who cant figure how to treat woman and its too bad the woman in the picture alowed him to degrade her like that just for money and public exposure and you cant even make out her face not a good role model for other women who want to get ahead in this profession I get so damn mad at these kind of situation this is my very first e-maul or public opinion ive ever given also for other people who respond to this do you have to bobmb us with the f-word please show some class when you get angry.

  83. Dendra says:

    My two [and a half] cents:

    Recently, I came across a picture of an advertisement that was published by Duncan Quinn. I attached it for your convenience. I find that myself and others that I know, male and female alike, have some problems with this advertisement. Let me point out the issues, as obvious as they probably are:
    1] Woman lying on car hood, seemingly dead. Probably strangled by the necktie that the man is holding that most likely belongs to him anyhow.
    2] A dark mark behind the woman’s head on the hood. Shadow? Probably not. Blood? Seems like it. Unfortunately the black and white nature of the image does not allow for any color difference to be seen.
    3] Woman is not fully clothed, but instead is in her underwear. The mere fact that she is in her underwear and clearly some form of violence has occurred would lead any rational person to believe that rape or molestation was somehow involved.
    4] Seemingly proud look on the man’s face. Almost an “oh dear, look what I’ve done.”

    My friends and I have bounced some counter-ideas to each other, almost playing devil’s advocate. For example, one person mentioned that perhaps it is a nod to the BDSM lifestyle. However, being a part of said lifestyle, other than the necktie that could potentially be doubled as a ‘leash,’ there is nothing else about the image that has any indicator to BDSM. Not only that, but the woman is wearing white lace underthings… pretty much the opposite of any BDSM fashions. Also– the woman is clearly dead. Limp wristed, head cocked at unnatural angle, and that dark mark behind her head. Another point was brought up– that perhaps the advertisement is an “homage” to Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy — you know, the classic film that glamorizes “the Necktie Killer,” the kind of gentlemanly serial rapist/murderer we all know and love.

    http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2008/12/december_editorials.html#photo=7

    It seems New York Magazine agrees with us.

    All in all, the nature of this advertising is apalling and offensive. Not just to women, but to everybody despite gender. He is fully clothed, she is barely clothed. She is lying down, if not dead then surely unconscious, while he is fully conscious and standing. I know you have recieved other emails regarding this advertisement, and I think that a public apology for the sick and twisted message that this ad is giving to the general public is in order. “Is it really okay to rape and murder women? Sure, just as long as you look good doing it. [psst wear Duncan Quinn].” Sorry to break it to you, but mysogyny is not in style.

    What a pathetic cheap-shot to society’s intelligence. Then again, your advertisers are a part of this society also, so it appears I spoke much too soon.

    Your company is on my black list and already a small fraction of my friends has nixed Duncan Quinn. Many more will follow suit.

    This is disgusting and will not be tolerated.

  84. onakalima says:

    Check out this video that compiles the worst advertising of the year:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMVi4xwCuUo&

    There have been several articles regarding these violent advertisements, one on the huffington post by alex leo, which has sparked some pretty nice debate.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-leo/five-trends-the-advertisi_b_149354.html

    one on frisky, which discusses this same ad you present here.

    SICK.

    http://www.thefrisky.com/post/246-sexist-advertising-alert-duncan-quinn/

    My org, Gabnet, made a REALLY short video about women and advertising for International Human Rights Day

  85. Pingback: A Picture Worth A Thousand (Violent) Words [Something Stinks] | StalknBlog

  86. Jen says:

    Hey, wasn’t there a spread (oh God, pun) in Penthouse in the 70s that featured a naked woman tied spreadeagled to the bonnet of a ute, captioned ‘Beaver Hunting’ or some shit? Oh, how far we’ve come!

  87. i write a silly little fun chick lit blog-novel, and i was looking for a photo of a sexy/sloshed woman in a car. and i came across this horror. and it snapped me out of my cutesy mode for a moment. thank you for your diligence and hard work and for caring and doing something.

    i am also unimpressed by tom ford’s ads, and american apparel, the website has nudity on a children’s clothing site.

    just wanted to thank you.
    Val

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