Summary of Council Decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were ‘Not upheld’.
A poster ad for a lingerie company seen on 25 November 2011 showed a woman standing by a mantelpiece wearing a bra, knickers, stockings and stiletto shoes. Text stated "Figleaves.com everyday luxury for everybody".
The ASA received four complaints.
1. Three complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive.
2. Two complainants challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for display where it might be seen by children.
1. & 2. Figleaves said that the media owner, CBS Outdoor, who displayed the posters, contacted the CAP Copy Advice service before accepting the ads. Figleaves had understood from CBS Outdoor that the ads were likely to be acceptable under the Code, provided they did not appear within 100 m of a school. Figleaves believed they could rely on CBS Outdoor seeking and complying with any advice received from CAP.
Figleaves said it was a major retailer of high-class lingerie and believed its presentation and promotion of its products was in the utmost of good taste. They said they tried to present their brand in an aspirational and stylish manner; they did not believe it was offensive or salacious in any way. They considered the photography in the ad was more tasteful and less provocative than other current outdoor campaigns and was done in the best possible manner relevant to the product being featured. They did not believe the ad had caused widespread or serious offence because of the low number of complaints the ASA had received.
Figleaves did not accept the ad was inappropriate for children to see. They said they had used a model who was of a suitable age so as not to cause question of age appropriateness. They believed there was no question as to at whom the ad was targeted. They said that very similar imagery was common place for underwear brands, perfume and fashion ads.
1. & 2. Not Upheld
The ASA noted the ad was for a lingerie company and we recognised that their advertising would understandably feature a model wearing lingerie. In this instance, we noted that the model was wearing a matching bra and knickers set, as well as black stockings and stiletto shoes. We noted the complainants' concerns that the ad was overtly sexual but we noted also that the ad did not show any nudity and that the image used was relevant to Figleaves. We understood that the ad may not appeal to everyone. However, we considered that, given the context, which was for underwear, the ad was not overtly sexual and therefore, it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to those who saw it.
However, we considered that the stiletto shoes worn with the stockings, her facial expression and body language were sexually suggestive. Because of that, we considered the ad was inappropriate for children to see and therefore, the ad warranted a placement restriction to prevent it from being displayed within 100 m of schools. We understood that such a restriction had already been applied to the ad and we therefore concluded that in this instance, the ad was not socially irresponsible.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) 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) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.