Lingerie retailer Ann Summers has withdrawn its new S&M Squeal Deal campaign, intended for launch tomorrow, after high street giant M&S threatened legal action over the ‘copycat ads’.
The £29 package, a parody of M&S’ Meal Deal, offered customers the choice between a ‘main’ (erotic bedroom lingerie), a ‘side’ (discreet adult accessory) and a ‘dessert’ (flavoured lubrication), over the bank holiday period.
The Ann Summers marketing material reversed the M&S lettering to say S&M and depicted a bottom smothered in melted chocolate, instead of the traditional M&S strawberry.
Towards the bottom of the ad, a strapline read: "It's not just Sex, its Ann Summers Sex".
Speaking on the campaign, an M&S spokesperson said: "Over the past 127 years Marks & Spencer has built up a great reputation for quality and trust in the hearts and minds of the British public.
"When we believe these values are being infringed, we do whatever we can to protect our brand and our customers. We therefore are taking legal advice with a view to issuing legal proceedings."
In a statement earlier today, Ann Summers chief executive Jacqueline Gold responded: “I have nothing but respect for Marks and Spencer. We wanted to take one of the most iconic campaigns and add a humorous Ann Summers twist.
“Maybe in hindsight it was a squeal too far and we sincerely hope we haven’t damaged the 127 year old institution that is Marks and Spencer. By the time this goes to print, I hope to have spoken personally to Marc Bolland and shared this with him.”
An Ann Summers' spokesperson later added: “Unfortunately we have had to prematurely withdraw with our campaign”
Ann Summers has since removed all references of the campaign from its website and materials have reportedly been taken down in-store.
This is not the first time that Ann Summers has courted controversy. An ad last year, which featured a woman screaming in orgasm over Halloween, was banned on radio stations for being too sexually explicit.
At the time, Gold told Lingerie Insight: "I think we are quite good at realising - and have done for many years - controversy has played a big part in our success, in getting our name out there and making people understand what we are about, and getting people to talk about us.
"If it means upsetting a couple of people, so that we can be fun and push those boundaries, then that is what Ann Summers is all about."
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