American Apparel ads are banned by watchdog for 'sexualising schoolgirls'
Adam Sherwin is Media Correspondent at The Independent and an award-winning writer who specialises in covering the entertainment, broadcasting, music and popular culture industries. Previously Media writer and diarist at The Times, he was a co-founder of the Beehive City media and entertainment website. As regular contributor to BBC London 94.9 Radio station, he was named Music Business writer of the year at the awards of influential music industry site Record of the Day in 2006.
Wednesday 03 September 2014
A “pornographic” advert by clothing brand American Apparel, which showed a girl leaning over to show her crotch and underwear to promote its “schoolwear” campaign, has been banned by watchdogs.
Complainants said the “school days” images, featuring young women posing in different school settings, amounted to “underage porn”.
One featured an image of a girl wearing a skirt, a top and white underwear, bending over to touch the ground, photographed from behind from a low angle. Her crotch and buttocks were visible. A similar image was posted on the brand’s Instagram page.
The Advertising Standards Authority said the images were “gratuitous and objectified women, and were therefore sexist and likely to cause serious and widespread offence”.
“Furthermore, we considered the images imitated voyeuristic 'up-skirt' shots which had been taken without the subject's consent or knowledge which, in the context of an ad for a skirt marketed to young women, we considered had the potential to normalise a predatory sexual behaviour.”
The adverts “had the effect of inappropriately sexualising school-age girls and were therefore offensive and irresponsible for that reason too”.
American Apparel adverts have previously been banned in the past for their “sexual and objectifying” portrayals of women.
The brand said one of the models was 30 years old. Its models were “happy, relaxed and confident in expression and pose and were not portrayed in a manner which was vulnerable, negative or exploitative”. The adverts featured “non-airbrushed, everyday people, most of whom were not professional models”.
The Instagram images had been posted by a “junior and relatively inexperienced member of their social media team” and consumers had to “opt in” to see the images.
The ASA banned the adverts and told American Apparel to ensure their “future advertising was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society, and that it contained nothing that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”
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