A product listing on www.ratandboa.com, for The Christy Skirt, seen on 2 March 2017, which featured an image of a woman from the neck down wearing a top that partially exposed her breasts and revealed a nipple piercing.
The complainant challenged whether the image was offensive, because it was highly sexualised and objectified women.
Rat and Boa Ltd stated that while the image may have been distasteful to the individual complainant, the Code stated that this was not enough in itself to find a breach. They said that there was nothing in the ad to suggest anything that would otherwise breach any other parts of the Code.
They explained that the woman in the photo was the co-founder of Rat and Boa and she had undertaken the shoot with her own free will and expression of artistic license. They stated that it was unreasonable to suggest that she would objectify women or herself.
The ASA noted that the image was cut-off at the model’s shoulders and her breasts were partially exposed, revealing a nipple piercing. One hand was placed on the waist band of the skirt, pulling it down to show her lower abdomen. We considered that the image was gratuitous and sexually provocative, because the model’s pose emphasised her breasts and torso, rather than the product itself.
We concluded that, by using a sexualised image of a woman, the ad objectified women and was likely to cause serious and widespread offence.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
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 in its current form. We told Rat and Boa Ltd to ensure that their future ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.