Fashion brand Missguided has found to its cost that there is a fine line between female empowerment and objectification after being forced to rip down one poster featuring a sultry model dressed in black but getting the all-clear for a similar ad featuring the same model in pink.
The first poster, seen on a train station platform, featured the model leaning against a side table wearing an unbuttoned jacket with nothing underneath, sheer tights and high heels.
The second poster, seen on the London Underground, featured the same model wearing a pink wrap mini-dress, which showed her legs and cleavage.
Three consumers contacted the Advertising Standards Authority and believed the images were overly sexualised and objectified women; one questioned whether the ads were appropriate for display where they could be seen by children.
In its defence Missguided – which is no stranger to run-in with the ASA – strongly contested that the imagery overly sexualised and objectified women. While it conceded that the ads did contain images of young women baring some degree of skin, the firm argued those looks were in keeping with industry norms and were in keeping with similar ads in the fast-fashion industry.
Missguided said that promoting and encouraging female empowerment was extremely important to their business and as such they designed and promoted collections which enabled their customers to stand out from the crowd in memorable outfits and poses.
In fact, Missguided said the message behind the ads and the target audience had actually been “misunderstood”.
However, the ASA ruling offered up a curate’s egg for the brand. Clearing the ad featuring the pink wrap-style dress, the ASA said: “We considered that the pose adopted by the model was no more than mildly sexual. The wrap style of the dress and her pose, with one arm slightly behind her, meant that it fell open just by her breast, which we considered was likely to be in keeping with how the dress would ordinarily be worn, but featured no explicit nudity.” It also ruled that the ad placement was fine too and that it was suitable for children.
But for the other ad, which has been banned, it was a different story: “The model was wearing a blazer with nothing underneath, which exposed the side of her breast, and which was coupled with sheer tights, sheer gloves and underwear. We considered she would be seen as being in a state of undress and that the focus was on her chest area and lower abdomen rather than the clothing being advertised.
“We also noted that her head was tilted back, with her mouth slightly open, and her leg was bent and raised, which we considered was likely to be seen as a sexually suggestive pose. We considered that the sexually suggestive styling and pose would be seen as presenting women as sexual objects. Because the ad objectified women, we concluded that ad was likely to cause serious offence.”
Missguided has yet to comment on the ruling.
Missguided clobbered over ‘offensive’ Love Island ad
Firm gets stiff rebuke for ‘cycling makes you a flop’ ad
E.On forced to pull plug on press ad after history rewrite
‘Double busy’ ASA reveals fresh spike in online gripes
Offensive Femfresh bikini-line shaving ad ripped down
Builders nailed over ‘sexually provocative’ shower ad