Widespread legs but not widespread offence…ASA dismisses whinges about Miley Cyrus poster

Posted: 24 September, 2015 in ASA Advert Censor
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miley cyrus viva glam advert A billboard shown at a large shopping mall complex and two posters, in both small and large scale formats, on the London Underground marketing a cosmetics company, MAC:

  • a. The billboard featured Miley Cyrus wearing a low cut bodysuit lying on her back with her legs apart against a mirrored wall looking into the camera. Around her were mirrors with pink lighting, which showed various angles of her lower body. It featured text that stated MAC VIVA glam .

  • b. The small scale poster shown on the London Underground was almost identical to ad (a), but partially showed a reflection of Miley Cyrus’ crotch in a mirror.

  • c. The large scale poster shown on the London Underground was almost identical to ad (a), but showed a mirrored reflection of Miley Cyrus’ crotch. Issue

The ASA received complaints from three members of the public:

  1. three complainants objected that the ads were offensive, because they believed that they were overtly sexual; and

  2. two complainants objected that the ads were unsuitable for display as posters in public areas, as they were likely to be seen by children.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

1. Not upheld

The ASA recognised that some might find the posters distasteful, particularly in the context of a make-up ad and we considered that the overall message of the posters was sexually suggestive. We noted that Miley Cyrus was shown wearing a one piece corset bodysuit that covered her buttocks and most of her breasts. She was lying down with her legs raised apart against a mirrored wall and was reflected in the background mirrors. Furthermore, we considered that her facial expression along with her hands placed behind her head was seductive in nature. In ad (b), her crotch was partially reflected in one of the mirrors while ad (c) showed a mirrored reflection of her entire crotch, although in both cases they were not heavily emphasised and were distorted by the lighting and overshadowed by Miley Cyrus’ pose. We also acknowledged the large size of ad (a) shown at a shopping mall complex and that ads (b) and (c) were heavily displayed throughout a London Underground station, which consequently, would have made the images more prominent to passers-by.

Therefore, while we considered that the images in all three posters were sexually suggestive, we concluded however, that they were not overtly sexual and unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. Not upheld

While we did not consider the images to be overtly sexual, Miley Cyrus’ pose however, was sexually suggestive. In all three ads, she was lying down with her legs raised apart against a mirrored wall and was reflected in the background mirrors. Furthermore, in ad (b) her crotch was partially reflected in one of the mirrors while ad (c) showed a mirrored reflection of her entire crotch. We also acknowledged the large size of ad (a) shown at a shopping mall complex and that ads (b) and (c) were heavily displayed throughout a London Underground station, which consequently, would have made the images more prominent to passers-by.

Because the posters were sexually suggestive they were therefore, inappropriate for general outdoor display and warranted a placement restriction of not appearing within 100 m of schools. However, we acknowledged that Exterion Media and the other media owners MAC had used did not display the posters at locations within 100 m of a school.

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