Tyre business doubles sales after dropping ‘sexist’ ads

A SWEDISH tyre company found their sales and popularity doubling after dropping "sexy" adverts and pursuing a more straightforward approach.

The company's adverts had previously been branded as sexist by Sweden's advertising ombudsman four times, the worst record held by any company in the country, according to a report by Dagens Media magazine.

ABS Wheels, based near Stockholm's Arlanda Airport, made the decision a year ago to replace the tasteless adverts, instead using clear, straightforward imagery of their product, during a redesign of its website.

As a result, they found sales suddenly booming, from about 25 orders a day to about 50 - and many of their new customers were women.

Owner Andie Lahdo told The Local the number of women customers was "six times higher than before" and explained their new strategy.

"Our marketing now isn't just products, it's education-based marketing, with lots of visuals," he said. "When we go to trade fairs, we now take a sports car rather than a hostess, which means you meet a much broader set of customers."

The company originally built its customer base by advertising in Swedish men's magazines such as Slitz and More, which are the Swedish equivalents of FHM or Maxim.

Mr Lahdo told The Local they modelled their old adverts on similar ones commonly seen in the "American tyre business".

One of the ads features a model in lingerie holding a chainsaw, while another features two women dressed in straps, who appear to be wrestling, with fire in the background.

Mr Lahdo said he worked in a "traditionally very male-dominated business", and he had no regrets about the old adverts as the company never received complaints from clients.

"But now, in retrospect, it's clear that the changes we've made have doubled our sales," he added.

The automobile industry has always been a subject of controversy when it comes to sexism and the objectification of women in advertising.

In 2009, Toyota chose an innuendo-laden advert to promote its Toyota Yaris model, featuring a conversation between a father and his daughter's boyfriend in which they both agree she can "take a good pounding".

After receiving complaints of sexism and incestuous tones, the advert was removed from Toyota's website and the company apologised for the offence.

This year, car service company Ultra Tune came under fire when it featured women dressed in bondage gear to promote the sale of tyres. The tagline was: "The word is out we're now into rubber".

The Advertising Standards Bureau did not find the advert to breach any codes of conduct.