Women’s Images for Advertising Purposes

Post by Lorna Woods


The ASA has recently considered four  cases which gave rise to complaints about the objectification of women and, specifically, the use of naked women to sell products and services.

The first concerned Ryanair which ran a promotion showing a scantily-clad model in lingerie and included the strap-line “Red Hot Fares & Crew!!!”. The advertisements gave rise to a number of complaints, including one from a Ryanair cabin crew member who started an on-line campaign against the advertisements. Ryanair argued that the women had consented to the images (although this appeared to be consent in the context of a charity calendar, rather than advertisements in the national newspapers). In any event, the ASA ruled that the advertisement was likely to give rise to wide spread offence, arguing that “We also considered that most readers would interpret these images, in conjunction with the text ‘Red hot fares & crew!!!’ and the names of the women, as linking female cabin crew with sexually suggestive behaviour,”.

This ruling can be contrasted with that in a billboard promotion for fly-on-the-wall television show Tamara Ecclestone: Billion Dollar Girl, showed the 27-year-old heiress lying propped up on one elbow, apparently wearing nothing but a bracelet. The ASA argued that here there was no sexually suggestive behaviour, even though the woman appeared to be naked. In fact, the advertisement contained no nudity or indecent exposure because the woman was covered by magazines. Further, the ASA took the view that, “the nature of the TV programme being advertised meant that viewers of the ad were less likely to regard the ad as gratuitous and objectifying women”.

Here is the ASA website:

Ryanair ad http://www.asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications/2012/2/Ryanair-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_178486.aspx

Tamara Ecclestone ad: http://www.asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications/2012/2/Channel-5-Broadcasting-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_176681.aspx

Mems/hammer: http://www.asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications/2012/2/Mems-DIY-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_177204.aspx

Marks & Spencer:http://www.asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications/2012/2/Marks-and-Spencer-plc/SHP_ADJ_176126.aspx



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