In every Inspire, AANA brings you recent rulings from the Advertising Standards Board to see the AANA Codes in Action – what’s in breach, what’s not – and why. As the AANA announces changes to the Code of Ethics provision relating to the use of sexual appeal in advertising we look at some recently complained about ads relating to the portrayal of women in advertising. Remember, the Code also applies to men!
Result: IN BREACH
This ad consisted of seven images of women in lingerie displayed on digital billboards in the windows of Honey Birdette stores during July 2017. One of the ad images was found in breach.
In the image two women are shown wearing black lacy lingerie where the cut of the bras results in their nipples being visible through the lace. The Board noted that while nipples may be acceptable in some circumstances, depending on the overall impact and relevant audience, in the context of a lingerie advertisement in a store window a depiction of nipples is not appropriate and does not meet the provisions of the Code. Because the image appeared in the window of a store, the ad did not treat the issue of sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant broad audience which would include children. Read the report.
Issue: Exploitative and degrading; Sex/sexuality/nudity
Result: IN BREACH
This ad was an A4 size double sided colour poster depicting an iPad held by and in front of a naked woman with a text message promoting product on one side and promotional information on the reverse.
The ad appeared in a publication called “Plumbers Choice” distributed by Australia Post in sealed plastic wrapping to labelled addresses only. The woman’s head was not visible in the ad and she had a tool belt around her waist. The complainants’ concerns were that an image of a naked woman covered only by the electronic device (tablet or iPad) was of no relevance to the service being advertised and was objectifying women. In order to be in breach of section 2.2 of the Code the image would need to use sexual appeal in a manner that is both exploitative and degrading. As the woman was wearing only a tool belt positioned over her pubic region and the iPad over her breasts the Board considered that the image was sexualised and that it had no direct relevance to the product/service.
The majority of the Board considered that the image was exploitative and by not including the face and/or head of the woman was lowering her in character and reducing her only to a set of breasts for the promotion of a service. On balance the lack of relevance of the image and the level of nakedness did amount to an image that was exploitative and degrading.
The ad was found in breach of Section 2.2 of the Code. Read the report. Note that section 2.2 will be amended from 1 March 2018 to refer to the use of sexual appeal which is ‘exploitative or degrading’.
Issue: Discrimination or Vilification Gender; Objectification Exploitative and degrading; Violence Causes alarm and distress; Sex/sexuality/nudity
Result: NOT IN BREACH
This TVC for PETA depicts a woman locked inside a parked car. She is shown panting, banging on windows, and kicking the car door before seemingly losing consciousness. Text on the screen reads “Dogs can suffer from heatstroke and die in a matter of minutes when left in a car on a warm day. Leave your dog at home”.
The complainants’ concerns were that the advertisement depicts a woman in a sexualised manner and implies she is a dog. The advertiser’s stated that the intent of the ad was to represent the equivalent distress experienced by a dog left locked inside a hot car and that there is no suggestion that the woman is herself equivalent to a dog or that she is trapped in the car because of her gender.
The Board noted the important community message conveyed in the ad regarding not leaving any animal in a hot car and considered that in the context of a well-known animal rights organisation promoting this important message the use of a woman to represent a dog is not suggestive of this, or any woman, being equivalent to a dog. The Board considered that in this instance the use of a woman, and not a man, to represent a dog is not of itself discriminatory or vilifying to this, or any other, woman. The Board concluded that the ad did not portray or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of gender.
In addition, the Board noted that the woman in the ad is wearing a singlet and shorts and considered that her body is well covered and appropriate wear for a hot day and there is no undue focus on any part of her body and found that the ad did not employ sexual appeal in a manner which is exploitative and degrading of any individual or group of people. Read the report.
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