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Chrysler withdraws sponsorship of 'sexist' Lingerie Bowl

LONDON - After being hit by a barrage of criticism and denials by senior management, Chrysler has pulled its Dodge brand's sponsorship of the 'Lingerie Bowl', where models in underwear are due to play American football.

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The pay-per-view event is due to be screened at half-time during an NFL game on February 1 and Dodge was signed up as one of the headline sponsors.

However, after criticism from customers that the event was highly sexist and denials by managers at senior levels that they had any knowledge that the Dodge was sponsoring the game, Dodge pulled out of the event.

George Murphy, DaimlerChrysler's senior vice-president for global marketing, said in a statement: "The Dodge brand's sponsorship of the 'Lingerie Bowl' has become a distraction."

Chrysler has pulled its sponsorship despite being assured that by the 'Lingerie Bowl' organisers that the event would be more than just titillation.

Looking at the Lingerie Bowl website, the focus seems squarely on the assets of the players rather than their tackles or football skills.

Mitch Mortaza, creator and executive producer of 'Lingerie Bowl' 2004, expressed disappointment at Dodge's exit and said that he had been told the brand was 110% behind the event.

"Not only did Dodge evaluate the event for four months before committing, but the details and marketing plan have not changed since its inception," Mortaza said.

Last week, the DaimlerChrysler-owned firm said it was not cutting its ties with the event, but would instead focus its marketing activities on the sporting side of the game rather than the girls.

Dodge originally signed up to the event to market its pick-ups and trucks to its predominantly male audience and saw it as a way "to break through the advertising clutter".

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