FHM has apologised after infuriating the women of Bulgaria by using a Womble to represent them in its guide to the sexiest women in Europe.
The feature on the FHMwebsite included a list of the sexiest women in Europe in the run-up to the European football championships. Each country was represented by a female except Bulgaria, which was replaced by the Womble Great Uncle Bulgaria.
FHM publishing director James Carter said the office received thousands of complaints and the subject was even debated on national TV in Bulgaria.
“I’ve had over 2,000 e-mails from people saying, ‘If you don’t think there are any good looking girls in Bulgaria, then take a look at this.’ I didn’t expect the force of it to be quite as great as it was. Clearly we stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest so we have responded with an apology,” he told Press Gazette.
The Bulgarian backlash came as FHM celebrates 10 years of its 100 Sexiest Women issue, backed by a £1.2m marketing campaign from Emap, including TV advertising and a voice over by Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell.
The first ‘sexiest women’ issue sold just over 116,000 copies in the UK. Today it sells around 3m worldwide. To mark the occasion the July issue will be bagged with an oversized 56 page supplement featuring the 50 Sexiest Women of the Decade. The poll is driven by readers’ votes.
By Ruth Addicott