A four-page wraparound Evening Standard ad for Blu electronic cigarettes – which featured the back of a nude woman – has been cleared by the ad watchdog despite complaints that it was overtly sexual and degrading to women.
Published in April, the front cover showed an image of the back of the nude woman with her head turned to look back towards the camera holding an e-cigarette, accompanied by the text: “Just You & blu E-cigarettes”.
In total 13 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, challenging whether the ad was sexist, objectified the nude woman featured and inappropriately placed on the front of a regional newspaper where children could see it.
In its defence, the company behind the Blu brand – Fontem Ventures – said it did not believe the image was provocative or sexually suggestive, and nor did it portray the model as an object. It understood that some people might find the nudity distasteful, but did not believe the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
And the ASA agreed and threw out the complaints, ruling: “We considered that the ad was sensual and sexually suggestive, but was not sexually explicit. Because of the relatively mild nature of the image we did not consider that it was unsuitable to be seen by children in this context and we therefore concluded that the ad had not been placed inappropriately.”
Earlier this week, the Advertising Association called on the Government to overturn the EU Tobacco Products Directive and lift the ban on e-cigarette advertising, which came into force in May this year.
E-cigarette ads are no longer be allowed across TV, radio, print (except for trade publications), and online display, although they are permitted in cinema, out of home, point of sale and sales promotions.
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