Fashion brand Rat & Boa has been ordered to rip down a product listing on its website, which featured a “gratuitous and sexually provocative” image of a woman exposing her breasts and a nipple piercing, despite the firm’s insistence that it was an “expression of artistic license”.
The move follows a complaint about the listing for The Christy Skirt to the ad watchdog, which challenged whether the image was offensive, because it was highly sexualised and objectified women.
In response, an indignant Rat & Boa stated that while the image may have been distasteful to the individual complainant, the ad code stated that this was not enough in itself to find a breach. It said that there was nothing in the ad to suggest anything that would otherwise breach any other parts of the code.
The company went on to explain that the woman in the photo was actually a co-founder of Rat & Boa and she had undertaken the shoot with her own free will and expression of artistic license. It stated that it was unreasonable to suggest that she would objectify women or herself.
This argument carried little truck with the Advertising Standards Authority, which considered that the image was gratuitous and sexually provocative, because the model’s pose emphasised her breasts and torso, rather than the product itself, no matter who she was.
Banning the ad, the ASA concluded that, by using a sexualised image of a woman, the ad objectified women and was likely to cause serious and widespread offence.
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