Itsu to change 'dated' label on chocolate beans after sexism row

Sean Morrison
Itsu said it would review its packaging: Rex

Asian fast food chain Itsu is to re-brand the "dated" label on one of its products after a sexism row erupted on social media.

The image in question depicts a woman playing volleyball, with the picture apparently framed with a focus on her bottom.

The controversial advertising appears on the packaging of the company’s chocolate-coated edamames.

Itsu say the image was printed on packages as part of a sponsorship deal with the Volleyball England Beach Tour (VEBT).

The packaging which sparked the row (Twitter/Lee Chalmers)

But critics blasted the branding, saying the image the advertisement is “blatant female objectification and sexualisation.”

After spotting a picture of the ‘dated’ packaging, feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez took to social media to vent her outrage.

She wrote on Twitter: “Really tho why is she there what is she doing what does her bum have to do with chocolate edamame" [sic].

In response to her questions, the Asian-inspired food giants explained that the picture was chosen as part of its partnership with VEBT.

But Ms Criado-Perez then pointed out that the sponsorship is not “obviously” apparent on the chocolate bean's packaging.

Itsu Tweeted: “Sorry our imagery feels sexist, it’s not the intention! Our boxes show men & women to highlight our VEBT partnership.

“But the images are a bit dated & not in the best positions. They are due to be updated as part of our ongoing design work.”

Some campaigners took to social media to express their outrage over the controversial imagery.

One wrote on Twitter: “Keep up, Itsu. No one falls for blatant female objectification and sexualisation in ads anymore.

Women’s Equality campaigner Lee Chalmers, who originally posted a picture of the ‘sexist’ chocolates, captioned the image: “Worst. Packaging. Ever.”

This apparently is not the first time Itsu has become embroiled in a sexism row over images of women in bikinis on its packaging.

In 2013, Twitter user Dan Barker posted an image of the company’s dried mangos with the caption: “Another bullet fired in the ongoing war of dried fruit packet sexualisation.”

A spokeswoman for Itsu told the Standard: "Itsu have been the official partners of Volleyball England Beach Tour for several years.

"Our packaging features both men and women playing volleyball to celebrate this partnership and promote an active, fun, healthy lifestyle.

"Some of the visuals have been in place throughout this sponsorship period and are due a refresh as part of our ongoing design work, hence the packaging being referred to as ‘a bit dated’."