A poster seen at Hillhead train station in Glasgow on 23 July 2018 featured four images of two young female models at a funfair. One of the models was wearing a bikini top with short cropped shorts. In one image she was posing with her hand at her side and in another image had one hand in her pocket. In a third image, the other model wore a sequined top and hot pants and the top of her legs were visible, and in the other image she was riding on a merry-go-round horse and her bare legs were visible. Text in the centre of the poster stated “festival looks from £5”.
The complainant, who believed the models featured appeared to be children and had been portrayed in a sexualised manner, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible.
LOTD Ltd said that as a business, their target market was aspirational and financially independent women aged 18–35. They provided data which they said showed that their customer base on social media was profiled as being 75% aged between 18 and 35 years, which reflected their marketing strategy. They said there was a negligible social media following at the lower age group of 13–17 years.
LOTD said that the idea for the campaign was to reflect and promote a summer music festival look. They had used a modelling agency who supplied the models, all of whom were over the age of 18. They said that the agency researched the current style and look of festival environments and the clothing and appearance of the models reflected that. LOTD said that, at times, fairgrounds were central additions to many festivals and although many music festivals were restricted to those aged over 18 or 21, some did allow younger aged groups if they were accompanied by adults. LOTD said that the ad had run its course and had already been removed.
Exterion, the poster site owner, said that they did not feel that the content within the poster contravened ASA guidelines and believed it was unlikely to cause widespread offence or harm. They said they had not received any complaints directly regarding the ad.
The ASA understood that both models featured in the ad were aged over 18. However, we considered that both models looked youthful and in two of the images, the blonde model in particular seemed to be younger than 18. She had an elfin face with glitter on her forehead and in her hair, which was plaited into two ponytails and her arms and legs in one image showed a slight frame which added to her youthful appearance.
We noted that the wording “festival looks” was written prominently in the centre of the ad and we considered that the ad would therefore be seen in the context of promoting that particular style. We considered that the clothing the models were wearing was generally reflective of the type worn at festivals and were not particularly revealing. We considered that their poses were typical model poses which were not seductive in nature and did not draw attention to any particular part of their body.
We further noted the fairground setting and while we acknowledged that the setting could be linked with people under the age of 18, we did not consider it was restricted to that age group and accepted that festivals were predominantly attended by adults and that fairgrounds could also be present there.
For those reasons we considered that while the models looked youthful, they were not depicted in a sexual way. We therefore concluded that the ad was not irresponsible and did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Responsible advertising) and 4.8 4.8 Marketing communications must not portray or represent anyone who is, or seems to be, under 18 in a sexual way. However, this rule does not apply to marketing communications whose principal function is to promote the welfare of, or to prevent harm to, under-18s, provided any sexual portrayal or representation is not excessive. (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.