Marks & Spencer and Channel 5 have both escaped censure by the Advertising Standards Authority despite complaints that both companies were running offensive poster campaigns, featuring scantily clad and nude women.
The first poster, for a Channel 5 TV programme, featured a picture of a naked woman covered by two magazines. Text next to the picture stated “The Cover Girl. Uncovered…starts November…Tamara Ecclestone: Billion$ Girl…new series… Channel 5.”
Complainants claimed the ad was offensive and inappropriate for public display, where it could be seen by children. But the ASA ruled there was no explicit nudity in the image and that it did not draw undue attention to body parts in a sexual way.
It considered that the nature of the TV programme being advertised meant that viewers of the ad were less likely to regard the ad as gratuitous and objectifying women, and gave it the green light.
The second poster, a moving digital ad for M&S lingerie, featured black and white images of two women looking out directly at the viewer and who were posing and smiling as if in front of a mirror.
The ad contained an image of the women in their underwear in a bedroom, as if getting ready for a night out and where one of the women was also wearing an open shirt. This image alternated with another image of the same women fully dressed, as if on a night out
It too sparked complaints that it was offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children. But the ASA threw out the complaints, ruling that as the images of the women posing in their underwear were juxtaposed with further images in which they were fully clothed, the ads were not unduly sexual in nature.
The watchdog concluded that the ad was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
M&S seems to have learned its lesson – last year a bus-side ad for its lingerie, which pictured a woman on a bed with her legs apart, back arched, one arm above her head and the other touching her thigh, was banned after a raft of consumer complaints.
M&S ad ‘too explicit’ for buses