An ad for organic toothpaste brand BOCA, featuring a naked woman leaning back in a chair, legs apart and wearing a high heels, has been splattered by the ad watchdog despite the brand owner claiming it was designed to showcase the “sensual and organic nature” of the product.
The press ad, which ran in The Times supplement in July, sparked two complaints that it objectified women but in response to an Advertising Standards Authority investigation brand owner Croftscope claimed that the woman in the ad was not actually starkers.
Defending the ad, the company insisted that there was a fine line between sexual objectification and the expression of sensuality.
Croftscope also stated the brand’s target audience was “predominantly female, with an aspirational lifestyle characterised by luxury and self-indulgence” adding that the ad depicted a woman “relaxing before retiring”.
However, the ASA was having none of it. Its ruling stated: “We noted BOCA’s comments that the model in the ad was not naked and acknowledged that the ad did not include explicit nudity. However, we considered that the way in which the model was depicted gave the impression that the model was fully nude… and created a voyeuristic feel to the ad.”
The watchdog added: “Furthermore, because the model’s face was not shown, we considered that the visible parts of her torso, including her lower portion of her breasts, and the lower half of her body became the visual emphasis of the ad, which was likely to draw readers’ attention
“We also considered that the nudity and the pose of the model, and the provocative nature of the ad, bore no relevance to the product. Because the ad placed visual emphasis on the model’s body in a sexualised manner and such nudity was unrelated to the product, we considered that the ad objectified the model depicted and invited readers to view her body as a sexual object. For those reasons, we considered that the ad objectified women and concluded that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”
Banning the ad from appearing again, the ASA also warned Croftscope to ensure that future advertising for BOCA did not cause widespread or serious offence by objectifying women.
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