A TV ad featuring a fashion blogger which suggested that, like her, young girls could gain popularity and feel more confident if they had a breast enlargement has been shot down by the ad watchdog for being harmful and offensive.
Cosmetic surgery firm Transform ran the TV ad – devised by Glorious Creative – featuring 21-year-old fashion blogger Sarah Ashcroft, talking enthusiastically about the positive impact enlarging her breasts has had on her life.
“I never really looked at any part of my body past my neck because it wasn’t something I liked,” she said. “I feel like a new person, from having nothing to then looking at yourself with boobs, it was the weirdest thing. Everyone was like ‘wow, they look so natural, I’m so impressed’. And to come away from it feeling 10 times more confident than you were I think is just an amazing feeling.”
The Advertising Standards Authority received a single complaint that the ad was irresponsible and harmful to young women under the age of 18.
The complainant claimed the ad exploited young women’s insecurities about their bodies by implying that breast enhancement surgery would make them more confident and popular.
In its defence, Transform said that Ashcroft – who as That Pommie Girl has almost 600,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter – was representative of “many independently minded, responsible, thoughtful, sophisticated and successful young females who chose to undergo cosmetic surgery”.
It insisted said that her testimony “could be viewed with neutrality” because she chose to use Transform for her own reasons and paid for her procedure before being asked to feature in the ad.
The company boasted that the tie-up with Ashcroft, which included a series of pre- and post-surgery videos, resulted in more than 250,000 video views on YouTube.
But the ASA was unimpressed, pointing out that the ad’s focus on Ashcroft’s personal experience meant it would have a direct appeal to young women and teenage girls. Ashcroft recently retweeted one fan’s post and picture spotting her in the Transform ad on TV.
It said it was concerned that the focus on the negative perception Ashcroft had of her body prior to cosmetic surgery might encourage viewers, particularly young women and teenage girls, to think about their own insecurities about their bodies.
While it conceded that Ashcroft did not explicitly link cosmetic surgery with her popularity or success, its ruling stated: “We considered that viewers would nevertheless infer from Ms Ashcroft’s emphasis on her personal transformation and the degree of confidence she said she had gained that her popularity and success as a fashion blogger had been, in part, a result of cosmetic surgery”.
Banning the ad for breaking the advertising code relating to social responsibility and harm and offence, the ASA concluded: “Although Ms Ashcroft’s was a personal story, we considered that the ad suggested more generally that success and popularity would be enhanced by achieving an idealised body image, which could be done by ‘correcting’ any perceived imperfections. In light of those factors, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause harm to those under 18.”
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