Are American Apparel’s Ads Bannable Or Just Over Hyped?

UK advertising watchdog bans ‘gratuitous’ ads that demean women on the popular retailer’s website, but is the fuss too much?


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “American Apparel ads banned for using overtly sexual images” was written by Mark Sweney, for guardian.co.uk on Wednesday 10th April 2013 09.31 UTC

American Apparel has reinforced its reputation for paying scant regard to advertising regulations, with yet another ban for overtly sexual images that were judged to demean women on its website.

The controversial US retailer, which has regularly broken advertising rules by using exploitative images of young women, featured a string of images of two women on the “advertising” page of the company website.

The Advertising Standards Authority received complaints that the two models were shown in vulnerable positions, and that the images were offensive, overtly sexual and objectified women.

American Apparel UK said it “did [its] best to abide by the standards of the industry” – despite having ads banned three times in just over four months – “as well as creating authentic, honest and memorable images relevant to their customer base”.

The ASA said the images of the scantily clad women were “gratuitous” and “overtly sexual”.

Of a series of six images of one of the models, the ASA said: “We considered the images were overtly sexual and that they demeaned women by emphasising the model’s groin, buttocks and breasts and by not including her face.”

Of the image of the second model, the ASA said: “We considered the image to be gratuitous, particularly in an ad for knitwear.”

The regulator said that there was a “voyeuristic quality to the images, which served to heighten the impression that the women were vulnerable and in sexually provocative poses”.

The ASA banned the campaign for breaching the advertising code under harm and offence rules.

“We considered the ads were likely to cause serious offence to visitors to American Apparel’s website,” it said. “The ads must not appear again in their current form.”

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