An ‘overly sexualised’ fashion advert screened during Love Island has been banned for ‘objectifying’ women.
The advert, for clothing retailer Missguided, featured several models wearing bikinis and led to one individual filing a complaint about its content – which included a close-up of a woman’s mouth as she held a strawberry between her lips.
Watchdogs were forced to launch an investigation into the Video on Demand (VOD) advert seen on ITV Hub after the single complaint, resulting in the advert being banned.
You can watch the ad below:
The complaint, which claimed the advert ‘objectified’ and ‘sexualised’ women, was upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after it was found to be in breach of rules regarding ‘harm and offence’.
As a result, it was banned from being shown again ‘in its current form’ and Missguided were warned not to use advertising in future which objectified women or which was ‘likely’ to cause serious offence.
The advert in question began with a shot of young women lying on a boat in bikinis, while on-screen text overlapped stating: ‘If you plan on wearing clothes this summer… we’ve got you covered… kind of’.
It also showed the women lying on a beach with their legs apart in ‘seductive’ poses, a woman running her hand along her inner thigh, a group of women in thong bikinis, and another woman posing with her legs astride on a motorcycle.
An ASA spokesperson said:
The ad comprised numerous quick-cut scenes each lasting only a second or two and we considered some scenes were in keeping with typical ads for such products. However, others went further and were highly sexualised, including some that did not show any of the clothing that was being advertised or include the model’s face.
For example, the ad began with a close-up of the lower half of a woman’s face as she ran a strawberry over her lips before cutting immediately to a woman wearing a high-cut one-piece swimsuit who lay on her side as she caressed her side.
While we acknowledged that the heads and faces of the women were often shown, in many of the scenes the women looked seductively at the camera with their lips parted and their poses were sexually suggestive – in particular in the scene of the model sprawled out over the bike which presented her as merely a decoration to the bike.
However, bosses of Missguided said the ad’s aim was to promote several items in their summer collection – including swimwear – and they had tried to promote ‘a particular lifestyle’ rather than just clothing.
They said the models were of ‘different sizes and backgrounds’ and that the ad focused on their faces to show ’empowering, confident’ young women. The company claimed the display of skin was ‘relevant, necessary and unavoidable’ given that the ad was promoting the summer wear collection.
Missguided said any imagery which may be construed as sexual – such as the strawberry between the woman’s lips – were ‘merely motifs used to create the lifestyle brand’.
They added that the audience was intended to be viewers of Love Island, where contestants were dressed in swimwear throughout the day, and claimed prevailing standards ‘allowed for women to be body confident whilst also remaining tasteful’ and in keeping with the behaviour of the target audience.
The ASA spokesperson said they ‘did not agree that the women in those scenes were presented as empowered, confident young women’.
We considered that the cumulative effect of the scenes meant that overall, the products had been presented in an overly-sexualised way that invited viewers to view the women as sexual objects.
We considered that some viewers who enjoyed the programme would nevertheless be seriously offended by advertising that presented women as sexual objects.
Because of this, the ASA concluded the ad was ‘irresponsible’ and should not appear again in its current form. They also warned Missguided not to use similar advertising in the future.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).