A series of H & M’s SS12 swimwear ads have escaped a ban, after the Advertising Standards Authority failed to uphold ten separate complaints about the nature of the images.
The complainants argued that the images were downgrading towards women, as well as being irresponsibly placed, too sexual for general display and unsuitable to be seen by children.
H&M Hennes & Mauritz UK Ltd (H&M) responded that the campaign was one of many produced and shown by H&M during a season, stating that the purpose of the campaign was to show its latest fashion and clarify its business idea, which was ‘fashion and quality at the best price’.
The company told the ASA that it takes responsibility as an advertiser very seriously and was ‘disappointed’ that some consumers found the campaign degrading to women or inappropriate for general display.
It stated that when the company planned the outdoor campaign, it bought posters in locations which optimised against its core target audience of women, aged 18 to 39. However, it said that it purposefully used poster sites that did not fall within a 100 m proximity to schools. H&M also claimed that it would take the complaints into consideration for future advertising campaigns.
The ASA refused to uphold the ten complaints, as it said that the use of models wearing swimwear was in line with consumer expectations of a campaign promoting swimwear. It also noted that there was no nudity in the ads and that neither the models’ poses or expressions were overtly sexual. While it did consider that the poses could be conceived as mildly sexually, the ASA did not consider this likely to cause widespread offence in the context of a swimwear campaign.