‘Suggestive’ Adult Shop Sign Sparks Controversy

Nikki Tang
HARROW, England — A sale display in the window of an Ann Summers shop in Harrow became a subject of controversy when it was recently attacked by a city councilor and a Harrow Times reader who claimed it sent “suggestive messages.”

The sign, used to promote the adult retail chain’s January sales, features a penis-shaped “L” in the word, “sale,” which comes up to meet an open pair of lips. The sign also includes the slogan, “get excited,” and is accompanied by lingerie-clad mannequins.

Upon seeing the sign, Watford resident Kevin Gooch sent a letter of complaint about it to the Harrow Times, urging Harrow City Council to take action to remove the sign on the grounds that the moral development of his son, as well as other children, is at stake.

“I was surprised and somewhat shocked to see Ann Summers displaying a pair of open lips with a five-foot erect penis just about to enter them,” Gooch said. “I feel this sends out a very strong message. I do not want my young children to be subjected to this kind of subliminal messaging when going shopping.”

Susan Hall, deputy leader of the city council, responded by sending a letter to the company suggesting it use an alternate promotional display in its Harrow location, agreeing that “the lips image is obviously a very suggestive one, and not even Mary Poppins would think it doesn’t refer to a sex act.”

Hall added that while most people are aware that Ann Summers sells sex products and promotes them as such, “different standards apply to a shop window that faces onto the street and which people who may have no interest in that kind of product walk past.”

Representatives from Ann Summers said they have yet to receive this letter, and that their retail team in the Harrow location is “unaware of any prior complaints” about the sign, which has been used by the company for nearly four years.

Company representatives “apologize if we have offended the customer in question and what he has interpreted from our window,” but have not issued details on whether the sign will be removed.