An ad campaign featuring a young girl in a bikini striking a fashion model pose has been banned by the advertising regulator because it irresponsibly sexualised children.
The campaign, for hotel and holiday group NH Hoteles, ran on lastminute.com with the strapline "The Organisers. Operation Bikini".
NH Hotels' advert featured a woman and a girl in bikinis striking poses associated with fashion models.
The Advertising Standards Authority received one complaint that the image was offensive because it showed a young girl in a "sexually provocative pose".
NH Hoteles said that the image was part of a wider campaign, called Verano the Organisers, which clearly pointed out that the ad was about holiday reservations.
In this context the ad was aimed at those looking to book summer holidays and that most online viewers of the ad would not interpret it as sexually provocative, the company said.
NH Hoteles nevertheless stated that the ad would not appear again in future.
Lastminute.com said the ad appeared on a rotational basis on its website away from the main booking path.
The website said it appeared in error and once it became aware, it was removed immediately.
The ASA said that the ad had appeared on the lastminute.com website in isolation. The watchdog said that the young girl was not shown in a "typical holiday scenario appropriate for her age" and banned the ad.
"But rather [she was] shown in a bikini, striking a pose akin to that of a fashion model alongside an adult model," said the ASA.
"We considered that the image was likely to be seen to sexualise children in an irresponsible manner and therefore to cause offence."
Last week, the ASA banned an advert that featured a model - who looked under 16 - posing in a "provocative" partially nude fashion advert.
The shots for trendy Los Angeles-based retailer American Apparel showed the girl wearing just a hooded top and shorts with minimal make-up.
In each picture she progressively revealed more skin until the final frame in which she wore the fleece unzipped with her nipple partially exposed.
American Apparel argued that the model was 23 and the six images showed how to use the top to create different looks.
But the Advertising Standards Authority decided "the photographs suggested that she was stripping off for an amateur-style photo shoot". It also ruled that she appeared under 16 in some of the shots.