The spot featured a woman dancing to a drum beat, pointing to her inner elbow and running her finger along the inside of her forearm. She was then shown lying on the floor as a voice-over began “I am your addiction, I am Belle D’Opium. The new fragrance by Yves St Laurent.”
When challenged by the Advertising Standards Authority, YSL said it had conducted consumer research that showed consumers had not interpreted the ad in that way. It claimed that Belle, the character in the ad, was addictive and seduced the viewer to become his addiction. It said the tagline “the addiction” was a core value of YSL but in a positive way – “devoted to life, addicted to love”.
The company stated that the ad clearly displayed the fragrance bottle and YSL name, and added that Belle appeared to be a healthy, vibrant woman expressing her sexuality.
But the ad broadcast on TV was only 20 seconds of the full one-minute ad featured on the Belle D’Opium website, and it had been cut to feature predominantly the quickest and most dramatic music and scenes from the full ad.
The ASA considered that the fast changing scenes and urgent music, created a less flowing, more frantic atmosphere in the ad, which might not enable viewers to interpret the ad as a stylised expression of femininity and bewitchment, as intended.
The watchdog ruled that the ad breached the Code on a raft of areas, including social responsibility; physical, mental, moral or social harm; and violence, crime, disorder or anti-social behaviour. It ruled the ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.
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