A poster for a TV programme, Tamara Ecclestone: Billion $$ Girl, on a roadside billboard, viewed in November 2011, featured a picture of a naked woman covered by two magazines. Text next to the picture stated THE COVER GIRL. UNCOVERED … STARTS NOVEMBER … TAMARA ECCLESTONE: BILLION $$ GIRL … NEW SERIES … CHANNEL 5. Issue
Three complainants challenged whether the depiction of nudity was:
- offensive; and
- inappropriate for public display, where it could be seen by children.
On 7 October 2011, the ASA issued new guidance on sexual imagery in outdoor advertising. That followed the publication of the independent report Letting Children be Children by the Department for Education after a review by Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of the Mother’s Union, into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, and our own research into the views of parents and children about irresponsible advertising. The ASA’s guidance informed the advertising industry that we would consider complaints about sexual imagery in outdoor advertising in light of the new evidence we had received about the public’s views. In accordance with that guidance, we are considering Channel 5′s ad in light of the complaints we have received.
Channel 5 Broadcasting (Channel 5) said the ad was part of a campaign to promote a new documentary series. The aim of the series was to show the naked truth behind all the media coverage that Ms Ecclestone attracted and that was the conceptual basis for the ads. They said the strapline the Cover Girl – Uncovered was clearly a journalistic metaphor and not a literal ambition because Channel 5 was going to uncover her true story behind the glamorous image.
Channel 5 considered the ad to be within the boundaries of the CAP Code and did not accept that nudity was depicted on the posters. They acknowledged that Tamara Ecclestone appeared not to be wearing clothes However, her torso and thighs were almost completely covered by open magazines. They did not believe she was presented in a sexualised manner because she was photographed looking straight to the camera and neither her pose nor her expression was sexual in nature. They did not consider her to be presented in a sexually suggestive, seductive or sensual manner and the ad contained neither nudity nor sexual content or context.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted there was no explicit nudity in the image and that it did not draw undue attention to body parts in a sexual way. We considered that the nature of the TV programme being advertised meant that viewers of the ad were less likely to regard the ad as gratuitous and objectifying women. We considered that the woman was shown in a naturalistic pose and there was nothing in her body language or facial expression which was likely to be considered sexually suggestive. We also considered that, although the woman appeared to not be wearing any clothes, the ad contained no nudity or indecent exposure because she was covered by magazines. We acknowledged that some might find the content of the ad distasteful, but concluded that the ad was not irresponsibly placed and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to the public in general or to cause harm to children.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.