ASA Ruling on Chanel Ltd
19-21 Old Bond Street
13 February 2013
Number of complaints:
A TV ad, for the perfume Coco Mademoiselle, included scenes that showed the actress Keira Knightley being photographed on a bed. The photographer was shown unzipping her clothes before she undressed herself, showing her shoulders and part of her back. The actress was then shown dressed only in a bed sheet crawling towards the photographer before lying back on the bed. The photographer appeared about to kiss her when she put a finger to his lips and said "lock the door".
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with no scheduling restriction.
The complainant, who saw the ad during the film Ice Age 2, challenged whether the ad was suitable to be broadcast during a film that was likely to appeal to children, because she believed it was overtly sexual.
Chanel said their founder, Coco Chanel, was known for being a strong, independent woman and the character in the ad was intended to reflect her spirit and embody the fragrance itself. They said the ad had appeared during time slots throughout the day and Ice Age 2 was chosen in the knowledge that it was not only a cartoon but included sharp humour and involved recognised celebrities as voice actors; it therefore also had a clear appeal to adults. They said the same time slot on the channel on which the film was shown was known to have included a sitcom and a soap opera, both of which included adult themes from time to time and which they believed were likely to have a greater impact because they also included dialogue.
Chanel said there was no nudity in the ad, and none implied, but the character briefly revealed only her shoulders as part of a photo shoot, which was the setting for the ad. They said the photographer helped the actress remove her boots, rather than her clothes, as part of a wardrobe change during the photo shoot. Chanel said a degree of sexual charge was common in perfume ads but while the character was playful and sensual, she was not overtly sexual and her telling the photographer to "lock the door" was a distraction because the next shot showed that she had left. They said the ad was in line with most viewers' expectations of perfume advertising and that children might mimic actions they saw in the film as well as scenes in advertising. They believed the ad was not unsuitable for children and that it was therefore scheduled appropriately. They said they had not received any complaints directly.
Clearcast endorsed Chanel's response. They said the ad was approved with a note to broadcasters, which stated "broadcasters may wish to view this advertisement to determine its acceptability for transmission in programmes appealing to children under-nine years". Clearcast said they recognised that broadcasters would want to be aware of the content of the ad but they considered a restriction to keep the ad away from children aged between ten and 16 years was not required. They said a degree of sexual charge was common in perfume ads, but they believed the fact that it featured a well-known actress in the context of a staged photo shoot made it more staged and filmic rather than raunchy. While there was a sexual frisson, it was more akin to flirtation and there was no kissing or fondling. The only nudity was a rear shot of the actress's shoulders; however, that was in the context of the photo shoot. She then tricked the photographer so she could leave, which Clearcast believed lessened the sexual tension in the scene. They believed the ad was therefore suitable to be shown without a restriction.
The ASA acknowledged that the undressing in the ad took place in the context of a photo shoot but nevertheless considered those scenes involved sexually suggestive content. We noted that the photographer was directly involved in unzipping the actress's garments and that there was a suggestion that she was naked aside from a bed sheet. We also noted that there was clear sexual tension between the pair and that they appeared about to kiss on the bed. We noted that Ice Age 2 was of particular appeal to children. We considered the ad was suitable for older children, but that the sexually suggestive material was unsuitable for young children. We therefore concluded that the ad was inappropriately scheduled and an ex-kids restriction should have been applied to prevent the ad from being broadcast in or around children's programming.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 32.3 (Scheduling).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form in or around programmes of particular appeal to children.