Advertising watchdog banns advert over inappropriate ‘sexualised’ images

A direct mailing for Jack Wills, included their spring catalogue.

A Jack Wills catalogue mail-out featuring images of young people drinking and partying in their underwear has been banned by the UK advertising watchdog for being too sexualised for young teenagers.

One page featured images of male and female models in their underwear drinking, dancing and on a bed together. Text at the top stated “UNDERWEAR … Pure and comfortable cottons, or flirty delicate laces, whatever your choice, you can be sure it’s what’s underneath that counts …”. Large text at the bottom stated “… midnight MISCHIEF”.

Another page, promoting “loungewear”, featured images of male and female models on a bed. Some of the models wore loungewear, one male model was topless on a bed with a woman while reading and another woman wore a bra with a strap falling off her shoulder.

The issue

The issue was whether or not the images were unsuitable for publication in a clothing catalogue that was targeted at, and seen by, teenagers. Under the advertising code, marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.

Findings

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) described the ad as “irresponsible”, saying the images and text were sexually suggestive and inappropriate for younger teenagers.

Jack Wills defended the images, saying that they “reflected the life stages” of its target audience, 18- to 24-year-old university students, 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”.

The ASA said that the sequence of images in the catalogue was “sexually suggestive as opposed to simply being flirtatious or playful”.

ASA continued by saying:

We understood that younger teenagers could have both direct and indirect access to the catalogue,..

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 (advertising) code.

The ad must not appear again in its current form and told Jack Wills not to use sexualised images and text inappropriate for younger teenagers.

Read ASA ruling

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Author: Christopher Hall