Summary of Council decision:
One issue investigated and Upheld.
An outdoor poster ad for Silks, a lingerie store, seen in December 2017, featured an image of a woman in lingerie, leaning forward to emphasise her bust. The image poster featured the woman’s body only and not her head or face. The image was accompanied by the text “Tease the Season”.
The complainant, who believed the ad objectified women, objected that it was offensive.
Silks did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Silk’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future.
The purpose of the ad was to advertise a collection of lingerie and therefore we considered it was reasonable to feature a woman in limited amounts of clothing. The ad did not show the model’s face, and focused only on her body which was posed leaning over in a way that emphasised her chest. The ASA considered that the model’s pose and the image, combined with the text “Tease the season”, was sexually suggestive. We considered that, by focusing entirely on the model’s body without showing her head, and in the context of a sexually suggestive pose and byline, the image invited viewers to view the woman’s body as a sexual object.
For those reasons, we considered that the ad objectified women and we therefore considered that it was likely to cause serious or 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 again in its current form. We told Silks not to use ads that objectified women and that were therefore likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.