Ads for Boohoo and Missguided have been banned, the first for asking customers to “send nudes” and the second for objectifying women.
A marketing email from Boohoo, received on 15 July, featured the subject heading “Send Nudes” and an eyes emoji, while the main body of the message contained a photo of a female model wearing a beige jacket with the words: “Send nudes. Set the tone with new season hues.”
Boohoo.com said its use of the word nude was solely to describe the colour resembling the wearer’s skin, and reflected the trend for nude colours.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) acknowledged that the term “nude” was commonly described to refer to colours that were similar to some people’s skin tones, but said the phrase “send nudes” was likely to be understood as referring to requests for sexual photos, which could be a form of sexual harassment.
The ASA said: “While the ad played on a well-known phrase to highlight a fashion trend, we considered the specific reference chosen had the effect of making light of a potentially harmful social trend.
“Furthermore, in the subject heading of an email, without any further context, the phrase ‘send nudes’ was likely to be disconcerting for some recipients, particularly those who might have personal experience of being asked to ‘send nudes’.
“In the context of an ad aimed at a relatively young audience who were more likely to be harmfully affected by pressure to share sexual images of themselves, we considered that the reference to ‘send nudes’ was socially irresponsible and breached the Code.”
A Boohoo spokeswoman said: “We note the ASA’s ruling and recognise our obligations to ensure that advertising is socially responsible.
“The reference to ‘nudes’ in this particular email related to the nude fashion trend, which was apparent from the body of email which contained a photo of a model wearing a beige jacket with the words ‘Send Nudes’.”
In an unrelated ruling, the ASA also banned a video-on-demand (VOD) ad for Missguided, seen on ITV Hub during Love Island on June 14.
The ad opened with a close-up of a woman’s mouth as she held a strawberry between her lips and then showed young women in swimwear on a boat, before on-screen text stated: “If you plan on wearing clothes this summer… we’ve got you covered… kind of.”
The ad showed young women on a beach with their legs apart in seductive poses, a woman running her hand up her inner thigh, a group of women in thong bikinis and another woman posing in a bikini with her legs astride on a motorcycle.
A viewer complained that the ad overly sexualised and objectified women.
Missguided said the ad was aimed at those under 30 years of age and tried to promote a particular lifestyle rather than just clothing.
It said the ad was shown on VOD around Love Island and was not dissimilar from the opening titles and content of the programme itself.
ITV said the ad depicted similar values, swimwear and scenes as Love Island and that it was surprised to learn that a viewer of the programme had considered the content of the ad offensive.
The ASA said: “We considered that the cumulative effect of the scenes meant that overall, the products had been presented in an overly sexualised way that invited viewers to view the women as sexual objects.”
It added that some viewers who enjoyed watching Love Island “would nevertheless be seriously offended by advertising that presented women as sexual objects. Because the ad objectified women, we concluded that it was irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence”.