Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Marks & Spencer underwear adverts have been given the all-clear by an industry watchdog following complaints that they were “overtly sexual”. Despite opposition, the Advertising Standards Authority deemed the adverts inoffensive.
An investigation was launched after several members of the public filed complaints about the digital adverts in particular – which show Huntington-Whiteley modelling her self-designed lingerie line – branding them “explicit and degrading to women”.
The three digital outdoor ads featured moving images of Huntington-Whiteley modelling bras and knickers from her Rosie For Autograph collection for the retailer, showing her in a bedroom first looking left then rotating her body to the front.
The campaigns received several complaints – which were eventually rejected by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that concluded that no action needed to be taken.
Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has a reputation for cracking down on campaigns that are otherwise seen as, well, fairly innocuous.
Seven complainants, who believed the ads were overtly sexual, explicit, degrading to women and reinforced sexual stereotypes of women, challenged whether the ads were offensive and unsuitable for public display where they could be seen by children.
On its official web-site Advertising Standards Authority wrote: “The ASA noted the complainants’ concerns about the ads. However, we also considered that it was acceptable for advertisers of lingerie to show their products modelled in ads, provided they did so responsibly.
It is considered that, because the ads were for lingerie, consumers were less likely to regard the partial nudity shown as gratuitous.”
It did not believe that there was anything in the ads that implied sexual activity, while Huntington-Whiteley’s pose and behaviour did not draw attention to particular parts of her body in a way that was sexually suggestive.
It said: “Although we considered that some members of the public would find the nudity in the ads distasteful, we did not consider that the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence, or that they were unsuitable for public display where they could be seen by children.
“We noted that M&S had applied a placement restriction such that the ads would not appear near schools and considered this was more than sufficient.”
Marks & Spencer firmly denied that the images were in any way offensive or degrading, responding that the campaign was shot “in a filmic, sophisticated, soft style” – and referring to the underwear range as a collection “designed by a woman for women, as opposed to being designed for the titillation of men”.
The British high street brand also confirmed that a “placement restriction” had been enforced, meaning that the images were not publicly displayed near schools.
The purpose of the campaign was not to show Huntington-Whiteley as being overtly sexy but to show the product off in the best light, reports the Telegraph.
M&S said it refuted any allegation that the range or supporting campaign was degrading to women or reinforced sexual stereotypes of women, and any such allegations were not supported by the evidence it had of the success of the campaign among its target female customers.