By Christine de Kock
Young Designers Emporium's new advertising campaign, which features an Internet game where points are scored by the number of times a woman is spanked and bruised, has caused outrage among women's right groups.
The campaign promotes YDE's "brand spanking new" clothing range and shows the buttocks of a woman in panties being paddled.
Each shot results in a bruise and players must beat her as many times as possible within 20 seconds to achieve a winning score.
Cindy Celliers, of the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro), said she was "shocked" by the campaign.
"My first thought was that we live in a country where one woman dies at the hands of a partner every six hours.
"For a shop that young women and men look up to, to be sending a message that it's okay to beat a woman and to make it glamorous, is wrong."
She said the campaign might be presented as a joke but the game resulted in bruising a woman, which is "not funny".
"It contributes to the notion that domestic violence against women is acceptable."
Paul Simon, YDE managing director, said the campaign featured both a man and a woman being spanked but the picture of the woman was chosen for the Internet because it was the "better shot".
"I can't understand why it would cause controversy and why people are upset about it," he said. "It is meant to be fun and irreverent."
He said the aim of the campaign was not to cause offence and apologised if anyone had taken offence. He added that "people in South Africa are very sensitive" and the campaign would not be pulled.
"That would be a decision in time... my customers see it as playful."
He said the phrase "brand spanking new" had been around for a long time and "to equate it with women-bashing is unfair".
He said the advertisements did not promote domestic violence, which was why the word "spank" was used and not "hitting" or "slapping".
Dineo Pooe, communications executive for the Advertising Standards Association, said she could not speak about the YDE campaign until an official complaint was laid and the campaign investigated.
She said an investigation would look at the target market of the campaign and where the advertisements were placed.
But she added: "Anything that condones violence is seen as unacceptable."
Illitha Labantu's advocacy manager, Mary Magdalene Tal, said having the advertisement on the Internet was particularly bad as it degraded women internationally.