ASA Ruling on URBN UK Ltd
URBN UK Ltd t/a
Urban Outfitters Europe
1 Finsbury Circus
31 December 2014
Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
An image on the lingerie section of www.urbanoutfitters.com, a clothing company's own website, featured the lower half of a woman's body, wearing a pair of briefs.
The complainant, who believed that the model in the picture was unhealthily thin, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
URBN UK Ltd, t/a Urban Outfitters Europe, stated they used a number of agencies to provide models for their ads, and the model in question was represented by one of the UK's most successful and well-respected agencies. They did not believe she was underweight and provided a copy of her agency profile, other photographs of the model and a list of clients for whom she had posed. They stated that her waist size was 23.5 inches, and provided documentation from outerwear brands showing they provided clothing for that waist size. They added that it was common practice to use slim models in the underwear industry, but they did not consider that the model was underweight or unhealthily thin; they considered she had a naturally tall and slim physique.
The ASA considered that the model was very thin, and noted, in particular, that there was a significant gap between the model's thighs, and that her thighs and knees were a similar width. We considered that the model looked underweight in the picture. We understood that Urban Outfitters' target market was young people and considered that using a noticeably underweight model was likely to impress upon that audience that the image was representative of the people who might wear Urban Outfitters' clothing, and as being something to aspire to. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 (Responsible advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told the advertisers to ensure that the images in their ads were responsibly prepared.