A poster ad, for an adult entertainment venue, included a large image of a woman’s torso. The woman was in a reclined position and her torso and the lower part of her breasts were exposed; she wore a top that covered the upper part of her breasts. The ad included the text Join the FILLIES girls at STIR and also showed a logo that included the silhouette of a woman.
The ASA received six complaints from members of the public:
- The complainants challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, particularly in an untargeted medium, because they believed it was degrading and objectified women.
- Some of the complainants also challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, particularly in an untargeted medium, because they believed it was overtly sexual.
- Some of the complainants also challenged whether the ad was unsuitable to appear where it could be seen by children, in particular because it appeared in the proximity of a primary school.
1. & 2. Fillies Clubs Ltd (FC) said they had used the same logo for around three years and had not received any complaints during that time. They said the silhouette was clearly of a woman wearing a cat suit and heels and that it had been changed from its draft format so it no longer showed the outline of a nipple, thereby removing any suggestion that the nipple was exposed. They said the model used for the main image in the ad was gender neutral so it was decided not to include the face. They said the image could be male or female or, as in the current case, neither. FC said the ad did not include any derogatory images or text in relation to either gender and there was no innuendo. They said offence was a subjective matter. However, they disagreed that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
3. FC said the ad only appeared in one location, which was within the boundaries of a pub car park. They said the poster was not in close proximity to a school or residential area.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted the ad was for an adult entertainment venue and, as such, the image was relevant to the nature of the club being advertised. We noted that FC said the model was gender neutral but given the prominence of the breasts in the image, particularly in conjunction with the text Join the FILLIES girls …, we considered consumers were likely to view the torso as being that of a woman. We noted the model’s head was not included in the image and considered consumers would understand from the ad that they were being invited to view the faceless model’s naked torso and, in particular, the breasts. We considered the ad presented the model as a sexual object and considered that, particularly in conjunction with the references to FILLIES it was likely to be seen as objectifying women and demeaning them. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, particularly in an untargeted medium.
On this point, the ad breach CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).
We noted the model’s naked torso occupied almost the entirety of the ad and that the only visible clothing was a top that merely covered the upper part of the breasts, which were very prominent. We considered the model’s pose and dress were sexually provocative and had the effect of making the model appear sexually available. We also noted the ad included a logo that showed the silhouette of a woman, also in a reclined position. Although we acknowledged the imagery in the ad was relevant to the nature of the venue being advertised, we considered it, in particular the main image of the model, was overtly sexual and was therefore likely to cause serious or widespread offence in an untargeted medium.
We understood the ad was placed outside a station and approximately 0.2 miles from a primary school. Nevertheless, we noted it could be seen by children, given that it appeared in an untargeted medium. We considered the ad was overtly sexual and therefore unsuitable to appear where it could be seen by children. We concluded that the ad breached the Code and that it was irresponsible for such an overtly sexual image to appear in an untargeted medium.
On points 2 and 3, the ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.1 (Harm and offence). Action
The ad should not appear again in its current form. We told FC to ensure future marketing communications were prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society and that, particularly in an untargeted medium, they did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.