'Sexist ad' flooring firm hands over Ipswich billboard space to charity as apology

Suffolk Rape Crisis said the new billboard woud help raise awareness of sexual violence in the county. Credit: Suffolk Rape Crisis

A company that was accused of running a "sexist" advert has handed over its advertising space to the charity that complained as an apology.

Essex-based Garage Floors Direct faced criticism after putting up a billboard, since removed, which read "So easy to lay" next to an image of a woman in a dress and high heels.

Suffolk Rape Crisis accused the organisation of "perpetuating the culture of rape", and succeeded in having the billboard removed in October.

It has since been donated the advertising space on Bury Road in Ipswich by the flooring company by way of an apology.

The new billboard carries the wording: "It was just a joke", with the final three words crossed out, and the word "sexist" added.

Garage Floors Direct, which is based in Manningtree, said the decision to donate the space would be "something positive".

A spokesperson said: "We thought it would be a nice gesture to offer Suffolk Rape Crisis an opportunity to promote their work in the community while raising awareness for their cause."

The billboard was taken down after the Ipswich-based company received an open letter from Suffolk Rape Crisis. Credit: Suffolk Rape Crisis

Suffolk Rape Crisis said it acknowledged that the decision to run the original advert was an "honest error" from the flooring company.

A spokesperson for the charity said: "We were impressed with the prompt removal of the billboard and the supportive response from Garage Floors Direct.

"We appreciate their donation that enables us to raise awareness for our cause."

The organisation said it was using the billboard space to highlight the "alarming" statistics around sexual violence in the county.

It receives 30 new referrals each month and has over 300 women on its waiting list to receive support.

When the flooring company released the original advert, Suffolk Rape Crisis wrote an open letter to both Garage Floors Direct and Billboard Media, the owners of the billboard, accusing them of playing into "archaic stereotypes".

"Adverts like yours affect how women feel about themselves, how women are treated by the police and the justice system and by wider society," said the charity.

"This advert is playing into archaic stereotypes that perpetuate the culture of rape."

In response, both companies apologised and said they "wholly and completely did not intend to cause offence" and promptly took down the advert.