M&S censured for overtly sexual outdoor adverts

Marks and Spencer lingerie advertising appearing on buses and billboards has been censured by the Advertising Standards Authority for over-sexualising women and being on view to children.

Two advertisements appeared in September this year. Both featured women in black lingerie from the M&S Autograph collection in two poses.

Nine complaints regarding the adverts were received by the ASA stating that they objectified women. A further eight complaints stated that the images were sexually suggestive and were likely to be seen by children.

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In a technical ruling, the ASA found that M&S was not in breach for one of the adverts, but ruled against the retailer in the other. The difference between the two adverts was the pose of the woman. In the second advert she is kneeling on the bed with her back arched, legs wide apart and her hand grabbing the back of her head and the other hand is touching the stocking top on her thigh.

The ASA considered that the image was of an overtly sexual nature and was therefore unsuitable for untargeted outdoor display, as it was likely to be seen by children. The authority concluded that the ad was socially irresponsible.

M&S said it did not believe the ads were offensive, overtly sexual or objectifying. It said the ads simply featured the product, a lingerie range, and that the company is well known as a lingerie retailer.

It claimed that the ads were part of a major campaign for one on their sub-brands which featured both outerwear and lingerie images shot in a “filmic” and atmospheric style. They said that if the images were not suitable for use on buses they believed this would have been picked up by their internal clearance process. They also said the images had been used in their in-store advertising and decor and, according to their Retail Customer Service team, they had not received any customer complaints or comments regarding these.




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