A poster promoting a music concert featured an image of Rihanna, who was topless. Her nipples and most of her breasts were covered by her elbow and by text relating to the event.
Two complainants objected that the ad contained sexual imagery and was inappropriate for display where it could be seen by children.
Live Nation said the poster ad was to promote Rihanna's Twickenham Stadium concert as part of her World tour. They said her breasts were not exposed and that her right arm was raised to reveal the name of the tour tattooed on the underneath of her arm. They said her right breast was fully covered by opaque black artwork and text. They believed Rihanna's pose and the overall impression created by the ad was stylised and artistic and was neither sexual nor sexually explicit. They also believed consumers who saw the ad were unlikely to find the pose indecent or provocative. Whilst they accepted the image was not to everyone's taste, they said the concert it promoted was open to children and the image was also used on the widely available album and would not be considered by the public at large to be inappropriate for children. They believed the image did not contain sexual imagery and that it was therefore suitable for display where it could be seen by children.
Ocean Outdoor said the location had been independently evaluated as part of the Outdoor Media Centre's (OMC) wider social responsibility programme and that it was not deemed likely to fall under the rulings surrounding school sites because it was targeted at road users on the A40. They said they regretted any offence caused but considered that the image was unlikely to cause widespread offence.
Although it was clear from the image that Rihanna was naked from the waist up, the ASA noted she was presented in such a way that only a little of her breasts were visible and that her nipples were not shown. We further noted she was not posed in such a way as to accentuate her cleavage. We noted Rihanna was shown looking directly out at the viewer and considered that her facial expression was more challenging to the viewer than sexually suggestive. We considered that overall the image portrayed confidence and that it was not presented in an overtly sexual way. Although we understood some consumers would find the image distasteful, we considered that the ad was not unsuitable for public display or that a placement restriction was necessary to prevent the ads from appearing within 100 m of a school.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (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.