There seem to be two main opinions on The Sunâs page 3.
One is that it demeans women by showing attractive young females posing naked.
The other is that itâs free speech: if you donât like it donât buy the paper.
I can see both sides.
But I think it helps to know why page 3 came about in the first place.
When I was growing up, my mum always bought the Sun.
My dad never liked it, he thought it was just gossip.
But Mum had always bought it because her dad always bought it.
The Sun was originally the Daily Herald.
My grand dad was involved in the trade union movement and the Daily Herald was the official paper of the TUC.
Consequently it was mainly left wing politics.
In the early years the Daily Herald had massive support but over the years the public got bored.
Most of the working class switched to the Daily Mirror which was more fun.
The Daily Herald changed its name to the Sun, but it was still dull.
Eventually, it was losing so much money it was sold.
To Rupert Murdoch.
Being Australian he was more brash, and decided to take on the Mirror at its own game.
He put in more sex, more jokes, more gossip, more fun.
In particular, the Mirror always had a bathing beauty in a bikini.
Murdoch decided to go one better and lose the top half of the bikini.
(Controversy is always good for a challenger brand.)
My mum didnât take much notice.
The Sunâs readership was 41% female, and they didnât really care.
Which was the best influence of page 3.
It normalised nakedness.
Before page 3 no woman would have dreamed of sunbathing without a top.
Having topless women in a national newspaper made it more normal.
Women became less ashamed of sunbathing topless.
Even women that didnât look like page 3 models.
When their husbands said âPut your top back onâ the woman could say âYou donât mind looking at page 3â.
But people who werenât around in those days wonât remember that.
Theyâll say that page 3 only ever shows attractive women.
Well yes, but the media has always shown attractive people.
At GGT, when Steve Henry wrote the Holsten Pils campaign it was the same situation.
Iâd shown the creative department Steve Martinâs âDead Men Donât Wear Plaidâ as a starter.
Steve was the only one who could make it work: a comedian talking to dead Hollywood stars.
Steve wanted Robbie Coltrane to be the comedian.
At that time he was new, no one had heard of him.
We shot a test with him and Humphrey Bogart and it looked great.
But the client turned him down.
It was a rule in beer advertising that you never used fat people.
It might remind men that beer makes you fat.
So we had to cast for a thin comedian, and we ended up with Griff Rhys Jones.
Steve wasnât happy because Griff was more mainstream.
And he was right, it wasnât as daring.
But people want what they want.
Should we try to force people into having what we think is right?
Or should we let them have what they want?
Everyone has to decide that for themselves.