Ad description

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.


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.


Not upheld

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 4.1 Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code.
 and  4.2 4.2 Marketing communications must not cause fear or distress without justifiable reason; if it can be justified, the fear or distress should not be excessive. Marketers must not use a shocking claim or image merely to attract attention.  (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

4.1     4.2    

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