A Jack Wills advert showing images of young people partying in their underwear has been banned by the UK advertising watchdog for being too ‘irresponsibly sexual’ towards young teenagers.
The British retailer’s spring catalogue mailout, sent in February, featured images of scantily clad young models drinking, dancing, and on a bed together underneath text which read: “Whatever your choice, you can be sure it’s what’s underneath that counts” with larger text reading: “Midnight mischief.”
The Advertising Standards Authority received the complaint from a parent who believed the photos were unsuitable in a catalogue targeting and seen by teenagers, the BBC reports.
— ITV News (@itvnews) June 1, 2016
But Jack Wills said the brand targeted 18 to 24-year-old university students and not younger teenagers, adding that the catalogue was sent in a sealed, opaque paper envelope and the website had an under-18 restriction for signing up to receive communications.
The company defended the images, saying they ‘reflected the life stages’ of its target audience and that the group depicted were on a weekend away … ‘enjoying a pyjama party’.
It also claimed the ads were not ‘overly sexual or encouraging underage sexual activity’.
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But the ASA ruled the sequence of images and text was sexually suggestive instead of being playful or flirtatious.
The ASA said:
Because we understood that younger teenagers could have both direct and indirect access to the catalogue, and because we considered the images and text were sufficiently sexualised to be inappropriate for that audience, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and that it breached the Code.
— The Industry (@INDLondon) June 1, 2016
It added the advert must not appear again in its current form and told Jack Wills not to use sexualised images and text inappropriate for younger teenagers. From now on, all future envelopes containing catalogues must contain a warning that you must ‘be over 18 to sign up for Jack Wills’ correspondence.’
It seems adverts are getting more and more lenient with their advertising – let’s be glad it wasn’t promoting ‘unhealthily thin’ models like Gucci did in April.