Tom Ford is known for his provocative, ultra sexy ads, so it comes as no surprise to hear that a billboard for his Black Orchid perfume campaign would spark a bit of controversy. The ads – which picture a naked Cara Delevingne in a pool of water, holding a bottle of the fragrance with her arms covering her ladybits – rubbed a few U.K. residents the wrong way, resulting in two complaints submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority.
Concerned parties complained that the billboard, located on the corner of Brick Lane and Hanbury Street in London, was sexually explicit, degrading to women and far too provocative for the eyes of precious innocent British children on their way to church or the mosque. They also claim that the ad was in violation of ASA rules, due to its sexual nature and its 100-meter proximity to a school. But the alleged offensive nature of the campaign seemed to be lost on the ASA, which ruled that though the ad is indeed sexy, it’s not indecent. “We considered her pose was sensual and sexually suggestive but that it was not sexually explicit,” the ASA explained. They also noted that the billboard was not as close to the school as the complaining parties thought.
Tom Ford’s campaigns have always been at the center of controversy. In 2008, Italy banned the designer’s eyewear campaign thanks to a provocative image of a man sticking his middle finger into a woman’s mouth. A 2007 Terry Richardson-shot campaign pictured Ford’s Tom Ford for Men fragrance bottle in between a woman’s spread legs.
The ASA is pretty diligent about policing and regulating ads, having banned campaigns picturing overly-Photoshopped models, provocatively posed models and famously, that Miu Miu ad with Hailee Steinfeld in which the then 14-year-old is sitting on train tracks, arguing the image glamorized youth suicide.