An Yves Saint Laurent ad for perfume brand Black Opium has been given the thumbs-up by the ad watchdog despite complaints that it glamorises drug use and addiction.
The TV and video on demand ads feature model Edie Campbell running through streets searching for a bottle of perfume that has been taken from her. The final sequence shows her recovering the bottle from a man and spraying her neck with it before slumping back against a wall.
The Advertising Standards Authority received 11 complaints that the ads were offensive and unsuitable for children as the woman’s actions simulated drug use and addiction.
Four years She was then shown lying on the floor as a voice-over began “I am your addiction, I am Belle D’Opium. The new fragrance by Yves St Laurent.”
But parent firm L’Oreal refuted the claims, maintaining the storyline had no connection to drug use or addiction. It said the advert was a “modern quest of a woman running through the streets of Shanghai to find the man she loved and the perfume he had taken from her”.
It said the ads did not suggest that the woman was a drug addict waking in the night and searching for a drug dealer, or that her reaction on spraying the perfume suggested drug use.
The company has “previous” with the ASA; in 2011 it banned an ad for the fragrance Belle d’Opium which featured a model pointing to her inner elbow and running her finger along the inside of her forearm, who purred “I am your addiction”.
But this time the watchdog has decided not to act. It stated: “Whilst we acknowledged the concerns of the complainants, we considered there were no explicit references to drug use in the ads.
“We considered that viewers, including children, would understand that the woman was searching for her lover who had taken her perfume and that she was relieved to retrieve it from him, rather than interpreting the storyline as simulating or alluding to drug use or addiction. We therefore concluded the ads did not glamorise or trivialise drug use or addiction.”
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