Website campaign featuring semi-naked young women halted by ASA after complaints it was ‘pornographic and exploitative’
American Apparel ran a series of eight ads on its website, and one in Crack, a free lifestyle magazine available from shops, featuring women in various states of undress, some topless.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a complaint that the images were “offensive … pornographic, exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women”.
American Apparel, which ran into a similar issue over its exploitative ad campaigns back in 2009, rejected the accusations, arguing that the images featured “real, non-airbrushed, everyday people” who were mainly not professional models.
The retailer, which argued that the young women were “clearly in their 20s”, said that it believed the images were the type that “people regularly share with their friends on social networks and which normal people could relate to”.
Nevertheless, American Apparel tried to argue the images fell outside of the remit of the ASA because they were “heritage advertising”, and not actually part of a current campaign.
The ASA said that the nudity was “gratuitous” because most of the clothes modeled were not lingerie, and yet the shots of breasts and buttocks were the “focal points of the images rather than the products”.
The ASA also said that in the ads featured there was a “voyeuristic and amateurish quality to the images which served to heighten the impression that the ads were exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women”.
The ASA said that the ads had not been prepared with a “sense of responsibility to consumers and to society” and banned all but one.
“We told American Apparel not to use similar images which were exploitative of women or that inappropriately sexualised young women in future,” said the ASA.
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