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ASA Ruling on Tom Ford Beauty

Tom Ford Beauty

767 Fifth Avenue
New York
NY 10153
USA

Date:

29 April 2015

Media:

Poster

Sector:

Health and beauty

Number of complaints:

2

Complaint Ref:

A14-288599

Background

Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.

Ad

A poster, which appeared on the corner of Brick Lane and Hanbury Street in London, featured model Cara Delevingne lying naked on her front, the side of her breast and buttocks visible. She was holding a bottle of Tom Ford Black Orchid perfume.

Issue

1. One complainant challenged whether the ad was inappropriate for display where children could see it and where it was close to churches and mosques.

2. Another complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive because they believed it was degrading and objectified women.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

1. & 2.

Tom Ford Beauty believed the ad was sensuous but not sexual and that it was highly stylised and artistic. They said the intention of the ad was to capture the luxurious and sensual nature of the perfume and that the featured model, Cara Delevigne, embodied a modern version of classical femininity in keeping with the image of the Tom Ford brand. Whilst they accepted the model was nude, they said most of her body was underwater and mostly obscured and that although her buttocks were visible, they were presented in virtual profile and not in a sexual way. They believe that neither her pose nor her facial expression were sexually suggestive in any way and that they were classical in nature and had been depicted in art over the years. They added that there was nothing sexual about the text in the ad which simply referenced the named perfume 'Tom Ford Black Orchid'.

They believed the ad was not inappropriate because of its location and that, under the ASA's own guidance (The ASA's "Statement on Sexual Imagery in Outdoor Advertising") it was at most, mildly sexual. They reasoned that because the ad was not sexually suggestive or overtly sexual, it was not subject to any placement restrictions and that, in fact, the ad appeared in a hip urban neighbourhood in which commercial advertising of a similar artistic aesthetic was common. Even though they believed the content of the ad did not require a restriction to prevent it from appearing from within 100 m of a school, they pointed out that there were no schools within 100 m and as such, even if the ASA were to find the ad "sexually suggestive", its placement would not breach the Code.

They did not believe the ad was in a location that was socially irresponsible or likely to cause offence because it could be close to places of worship and said it was about 100 m from the closest mosque and over 300 m from the closest church. They reiterated that the area in which the ad was placed was a part of London that was the centre of hip, contemporary culture and it would not cause offence to people who were likely to be in that area.

The media owner, blowUP media, believed that the ad was stylised and artistic and in-line with similar ads for beauty products, such as perfumes, which portrayed feminine beauty and the female body. They considered that the pose was sensual and although the model was naked, they believed the image was not sexually explicit and similar to many other outdoor campaigns for similar brands.

blowUP media stated that the location of the ad was a popular site for brands targeting young and urban professionals. The location targeted a valuable East London audience with an estimated 22,800 people passing the site every day. The core audience lived and worked in the East London "Tech City" or in boutique fashion, art, design and media outfits, and also visited the bars, cafes, clubs and restaurants in the area. They stated that because of this core audience the site had been used as advertising space for a number of fashion, drink and technology brands for several years, some of which also included mild nudity.

blowUP media further stated that London was a multi-cultural city with a diverse culture and believed that the ad was suitably placed to reach its target audience. They stated that the site did not fall within close proximity to any schools or religious buildings and therefore, because they considered it was not sexually suggestive or overtly sexual, did not require any placement restrictions.

Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted the ad featured an image of Cara Delevigne in which she was clearly naked and lying on her side in water, with much of one of her breasts shown along with the profile of her buttocks. Despite her nudity we considered her pose was sensual and sexually suggestive but that it was not sexually explicit. We therefore considered that because the image was sexually suggestive, it should not have appeared within 100 m of a school. We understood the ad in question did not have a placement restriction but equally noted it had not been placed in a location within 100 m of a school and that a placement restriction was subsequently unnecessary in this instance.

We understood that because of its size and location on a busy urban street, the ad would be very noticeable to passersby and that attention would be drawn to the poster space regardless of its content and that in this case it may have been more noticeable because the model was clearly naked. However, we noted the ad did not appear within the immediate vicinity of a place of worship and that the area in question was a busy, diverse and popular area of London. We therefore considered the ad had not been placed inappropriately.

On this point we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 (Social responsibility), but did not find it in breach.

2. Not upheld

We noted the pose was sensual. Although the model was naked, we considered the image was not sexually explicit. We further noted the image was stylised and artistic and in-keeping with ads for beauty products such as perfumes where depictions of feminine beauty and the female body were commonly used. Whilst we understood some viewers may have found the image distasteful because of the nudity shown and implied, we considered the image itself was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence and that it did not degrade or objectify women.

On this point we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.

Action

No further action required.

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For advice and training on the Advertising Codes please visit the CAP website.

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