ASA Ruling on Agent Provocateur Ltd
Agent Provocateur Ltd
154 Clerkenwell Road
7 March 2012
Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
A video on the Agent Provocateur website, viewed on 4 November 2011, showed a woman in a nightgown in her home. She was shown answering the telephone before several women, who were wearing revealing lingerie with stockings and long boots, appeared at the window. The women were shown dragging the other woman through the house and adopted a series of poses, some sexual, alone and with the other women. The group of women appeared to attack the woman's body; she then she re-appeared wearing similar revealing lingerie to the group.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive, because she believed it was disturbing and misogynistic.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Agent Provocateur said the video was produced in support of the online launch of their new Soiree 2011-2012 collection, because the limited edition range had previously been available only in global destination boutiques. The film was a unique take on the horror genre with a signature Agent Provocateur sensibility and eroticism. They said one of the gowns in the collection reminded the film's director of the type of gown that was worn by 'victims' in classic 1950s Hammer horror films. The style suited Agent Provocateur perfectly, because in the past horror was the only way of showing sex in a film. Sex and horror had always been woven together but, they understood, had never been parodied in a film for a fashion label. They said the online video had been viewed over 450,000 times since its launch and there had not been any other complaints. They said they always tried to communicate with a sense of humour and did not condone violence in any form.
The ASA noted the online video appeared in the context of the website of a luxury lingerie retailer. We acknowledged some viewers might find some of the scenes distasteful but considered the highly stylised nature and clearly fictional content of the video meant it was unlikely to be interpreted by most viewers in the way the complainant suggested. We considered the ads did not demean women and were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to visitors to the Agent Provocateur website. We also considered the ad was unlikely to cause fear or distress without justifiable reason. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.