Explicit advertising draws complaints

Advertising by both American Apparel and Ann Summers is under the threat of banning by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), after drawing complaints for its explicit nature.

Ann Summers released its raunchy TV advert last week, calling it the “sexiest ever” TV advert, and running two versions, one after the 9pm watershed, and a more explicit version after 11pm.

The ASA has received four complaints about the advert and is considering whether to investigate.

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Ann Summers said in a statement: “We have not been made aware of any complaints following the airing of our Christmas advert throughout the last week. Our current advertising campaign was designed in the spirit of Christmas For Grown Ups, and as a responsible retailer we have worked in conjunction with the approving body and the advert has only been aired after the watershed.

“Ann Summers always carefully considers every marketing campaign and how it will be interpreted both by our customers and the general public. We like to strike an appropriate balance of on-brand communications and responsible marketing and welcome all opinions.”

The controversy comes less than a week after the US retailer American Apparel saw three of its 23 online adverts banned by the ASA for their sexual content, including an advert for tights that was deemed “unnecessarily sexual and inappropriate for a website that could be seen by children.”

American Apparel defended its adverts, saying that it was “standard practice to market hosiery, intimates or lingerie in the way done on their website.”

The complaints raise questions about the limits to which a brand can take provocative advertising available in media accessible to children.

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