A pre-roll Youtube ad for Prettylittlething.com, a women’s clothing retailer, seen on 29 October 2019. The ad opened with a woman wearing black vinyl, high waisted chaps-style knickers and a cut-out orange bra, dragging a neon bar and looking over her shoulder. The ad proceeded to show women in seductive poses, wearing various lingerie style clothing and holding the neon bars.
The complainant, who believed the ad was overly sexualised and objectified women, challenged whether the ad was offensive and irresponsible.
Prettylittlething.com Ltd stated that the ad highlighted how they supported and promoted diversity through bold and distinctive fashion of all shapes and sizes which focused on different trends. They said they had not intended to create an ad which was deemed offensive and irresponsible. They said they worked hard to promote a positive and healthy body image that was inclusive and empowered women. Prettylittlething.com provided a mood board to demonstrate the creative theory behind the ad and explained that the ad was inspired by their customers who seek the latest rave style clothing.
The ASA noted that the ad began with a woman looking over her shoulder in a seductive manner wearing black vinyl, high waisted chaps-style knickers which revealed her buttocks. A later scene depicted a woman wearing a transparent mesh bodysuit. The woman was lying on her side with her knee bent up and with a neon bar in between her legs. The next scene showed a woman in a bikini top, holding the neon bar behind her shoulders in a highly sexualised pose which accentuated her breasts. The woman was then depicted crouched down with her legs apart, wearing chaps-style trousers to reveal string bikini bottoms. We considered that the cumulative effect of the scenes meant that overall, the products had been presented in an overly-sexualised way that invited viewers to view the women as sexual objects. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence and was irresponsible.
The ad breached CAP Code 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. We told Prettylittlething.com Ltd not to use advertising that was likely to cause serious offence by objectifying women.