So it was all a publicity stunt.
And even the industry’s trade publication, Press Gazette, had been fooled.
The Sun Newspaper has returned to printing their infamous page 3 models just days after seemingly removing them from further publication.
The campaign to remove the images, led by the group No More Page 3, had seen a mixed reaction to the removal of what is seen by some as one of the most ‘controversial traditions in British journalism.’
The Sun’s PR strategy was coy and mischievous.
It neither confirmed nor denied dropping page 3.
But the sense of moral triumph when Tuesday’s edition was boob-less had everyone from Russell Brand to The Guardian asking whether this was a victory for women.
Opinion was divided.
However, Thursday’s edition returned, featuring Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth, sporting a cheeky wink and a disclaimer which read:
‘Further to recent reports in all other media outlets, we would like to clarify that this is Page 3 and this is a picture of Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth. We would like to apologise on the behalf of the print and broadcast journalists who have spent the last two days talking and writing about us.”
Dylan Sharpe, Head of PR at The Sun tweeted the picture, clearly aware of the media storm caused and making very clear that it was all for publicity.
The No More Page 3 campaign has remained in good spirits, claiming to have received an additional 13,000 signatures on their Change.org petition.
Still, many believe the No More Page 3 campaign is little more than an empty, and in some cases, damaging endeavour.
Commentators have accused the campaign of being anti-sex worker, and ignoring the fact that the newspaper still contains plenty of sexism, with or without the topless models.
Combatting a single page of a single newspaper doesn’t even leave a dent in this apparatus. It feels almost like going after this one page legitimises the rest of the sorry mess by its omission to even address this. – Zoe Stavri, Another Angry Woman
Furthermore, Tuesday’s edition replaced the paid, consenting model with a seemingly candid shot of Hollyoak’s actresses in their bikinis.
This is the major problem with candid shots. They’re infinitely worse than posed photos. What does a photograph snapped without a woman’s knowledge or blessing say about our attitude towards consent? Paparazzi shots are invasive and, crucially, completely non-consensual. Fame, according to the paparazzi model, gives men the right to stalk women, to watch them through telescopic lenses while they think they are alone, to watch and wait for a moment deemed suitably titillating or humiliating. – Zoe Stavri, Another Angry Woman
The Sun has still featured Tuesday and Wednesday’s Page 3 models online, available to those behind a paywall.
On the flip side, there is the Free The Nipple movement, a campaign primarily run by women, who aims to demystify female nipples, with the goal to normalise them in the same way men’s nipples are.
With the war over women’s bodies, and Page 3, still raging, is the debate over topless women in a national newspaper worth all the media attention it had garnered? That is still up for discussion.
I don’t see that stopping Page 3 will make a huge difference these days because of everything you can find on the internet. Compared to most of the other ways women get exploited, someone getting paid for taking their bra off just doesn’t seem that important now. If you want to worry about something get worried about trafficking or FGM or something similar. – Katharine Whitehorn, The Guardian