Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, of which one was Upheld and one was Not upheld.
A poster for the perfume 'ROGUE' by Rihanna, which was displayed on the doors of a lift in a shopping centre, featured an image of the pop star Rihanna sitting on the floor with her head and shoulders leaning against a wall and her legs raised against a large bottle of perfume. Text at the top of the ad stated "ROGUE by Rihanna".
One complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive, because:
1. it was overly sexual and demeaning to women; and
2. it featured a sexualised and provocative image, which was inappropriate for children to see.
Parlux Ltd believed the ad did not breach the Code and they said they had received no other complaints in the UK or elsewhere. They said Rihanna was known for her provocative songs and persona, which the ad sought to capture without featuring improper nudity or offensive, suggestive or demeaning imagery. They believed the majority of women would not consider the portrayal of Rihanna to be demeaning, but rather she was depicted as being in a position of power, as indicated by the name "ROGUE", which suggested one with the courage to challenge boundaries. They said the ad was consistent with advertising for Rihanna's previous perfume launches, which had received no complaints, and reflected the advertising norms of the fragrance industry.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that Rihanna appeared to be naked in the image and one of her buttocks was visible, with her legs raised. However, we also noted that she was presented in such a way that she was mainly covered, and the image was not overtly sexual. We noted that Rihanna was depicted looking directly at the viewer and considered that her facial expression was one of defiance rather than vulnerability. We considered that the overall impression of Rihanna created by the ad was one of confidence. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to be demeaning to women or to cause serious or widespread offence.
On this point, 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.
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.
We noted the ad was not given a placement restriction and had appeared in a number of places where it was likely to be seen by children. While we did not consider the image to be overtly sexual, we considered that Rihanna's pose, with her legs raised in the air, was provocative. Because of this, and the fact that Rihanna appeared to be naked except for high heels, we concluded that the ad was sexually suggestive and should have been given a placement restriction to reduce the possibility of it being seen by children.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Compliance).
The ad must not appear again without a placement restriction to reduce the possibility of it being seen by children.