A magazine ad for "Oh, Lola!" perfume which appeared on 5 August 2011, showed the actress and model Dakota Fanning, sitting on the floor, alone, wearing a pale coloured thigh length dress. She used one arm to support herself as she leaned backwards and in the other hand she held an oversized bottle of the perfume, which rested in her lap. The bottle was shaped like a vase holding a flower in bloom.
Four readers challenged whether the ad was offensive and irresponsible as it portrayed the young model in a sexualised manner.
Coty UK said that they had not received any complaints about the ad. They did not believe the styling in the ad suggested the model was underage or that the ad was inappropriately sexualised because it did not show any private body parts or sexual activity. They believed the giant perfume bottle was provoking but not indecent.
Coty UK explained that the ad had appeared in highly stylised fashion magazines, most readers of which, they believed, would be over 25 years of age; the target group for the perfume. They did not believe that readers of those magazines were likely to find the ad offensive because it was similar to many other edgy images in those magazines.
ES Magazine had not received any complaints.
Sunday Times Style magazine had not received any complaints. They did not believe that the ad was so sexually suggestive that it breached the Code. They said their publication was marketed to adults with an interest in cutting edge fashion and that any sexual connotations that may have been associated with the ad would be reduced because of that target audience.
The ASA understood that the ad had appeared in publications with a target readership of those over 25 years of age. We noted that the model was wearing a thigh length soft pink, polka dot dress and that part of her right thigh was visible. We noted that the model was holding up the perfume bottle which rested in her lap between her legs and we considered that its position was sexually provocative. We understood the model was 17 years old but we considered she looked under the age of 16. We considered that the length of her dress, her leg and position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality. Because of that, along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition12) rules
Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
(Social responsibility) and
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. (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form.