Pretty Little Thing advert banned by watchdog for being 'overly sexualised'

Advert was ‘likely to cause serious offence by objectifying women’, Advertising Standards Authority states

Sabrina Barr
Wednesday 05 February 2020 10:02 GMT
Pretty Little Thing advert banned for being 'overly sexualised'

An advert for women‘s retailer Pretty Little Thing has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for being “overly sexualised”.

The commercial in question was seen on 29 October 2019 as a pre-roll advert on YouTube.

It opens with a view of a female model from behind, wearing black, chaps-style knickers and a cut-out, orange bra.

The advert later shows a model lying down on the floor wearing a sheer bodysuit, holding a neon bar between her legs.

The complainant said they believed the commercial “overly sexualised and objectified women”, challenging whether the ASA would deem it “offensive and irresponsible”.

Provided by the ASA (Pretty Little Thing)

According to the ruling on the UK watchdog’s website, Pretty Little Thing said the advert “highlighted how they supported and promoted diversity through bold and distinctive fashion of all shapes and sizes which focused on different trends”.

The retailer added that it did not mean to “create an ad which was deemed offensive and irresponsible”, stating that they aspired to “promote a positive and healthy body image that was inclusive and empowered women”.

The fashion brand provided the ASA with a mood board to outline the thought process that went into creating the advert, which drew inspiration from “rave style clothing”.

Nonetheless, on Wednesday 5 February the ASA published its ruling that the advert has been banned, concluding it is “likely to cause serious offence and was irresponsible”.

Provided by the ASA (Pretty Little Thing)

“We considered that the cumulative effect of the scenes meant that overall, the products had been presented in an overly-sexualised way that invited viewers to view the women as sexual objects,” the ASA stated.

“The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Ltd not to use advertising that was likely to cause serious offence by objectifying women.”

Earlier this year, Love Island star Molly-Mae Hague was reprimanded by the ASA for sharing a photograph of herself on social media wearing a Pretty Little Thing coat, while failing to clarify that she has a partnership with the brand.

The reality television star tagged the fashion retailer in the post, but did not include the hashtag “#ad” or an equivalent note to make her collaboration with the brand clear to her followers.

Pretty Little Thing responded to the claim made by the complainant by stating that while Hague is one of their brand ambassadors, the post in question was shared by the 20-year-old of her own volition.

Nonetheless, the ASA upheld the complaint, stating: “The CAP Code stated that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such, and that they made clear their commercial intent, if that was not obvious from context.”

The watchdog said it “did not consider the content of the post made clear whether it was advertising” rather than “independent editorial content”.

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