A North-West fast-food chain has been torn off a strip by the ad watchdog for using a scantily-clad model in a suggestive pose to promote its takeaway pizzas, pasta, burgers and kebabs.
The leaflet for Harlequin Fast Food, which has outlets in Macclesfiled, Middleton, Timperly, Romiley and Marple, featured two images of the woman, who was pictured wearing only underwear, a jacket and trainers, eating pizza.
Two complainants objected that the ad was offensive because it was sexist and objectified women.
In response to an Advertising Standards Authority probe, Harlequin Fast Food stated that it had distributed thousands of leaflets without receiving a single complaint. It stated that it felt the general consensus was that the images did not seem to cause any offence to men or women, although it did intend to amend the images after the remaining batch had been placed in a local newspaper.
The ASA, however, had other ideas and considered the images used bore no relevance to the fast-food takeaway service advertised.
Although it did not consider the first image in which the model was depicted sitting cross-legged wearing a jacket, with her underwear only partially visible while drinking and holding a pizza – to be particularly sexual or suggestive. The second shot was deemed far more revealing, as the model’s bra and cleavage was clearly visible.
The model was depicted sitting on the edge of the sofa, with her mouth open and her hand placed between her legs.
In its ruling, the watchdog said he pose was sexually suggestive and it fully understood why recipients of the leaflet were likely to interpret the model’s expression and pose as being sexual in nature.
The ASA said: “We considered that showing the model in her underwear while eating pizza for no other reason than to promote the takeaway service, presented her as a sexual object. We concluded that, by using a sexualised image of a woman that bore no relevance to the advertised product, the ad objectified women and was likely to cause serious offence.”
Banning the leaflet from running again in its current form, the ASA warned Harlequin Fast Food that its advertising must not cause offence by objectifying women.
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