Yesterday we learned that Britain's ad watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), had banned the campaign for Rihanna's Rogue fragrance, calling it "provocative" and "sexually suggestive." (Which happens to be a pretty good way of describing that other thing Rihanna did this week.)
Whether or not you agree with the ruling, the ASA's decision shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's followed the regulatory organization over the past few years. The watchdog group oversees print and broadcast advertising, and has the power to restrict campaigns that make false claims, promote illegal behavior, and expose children to overtly sexual imagery — among other things.
Below, we review fourteen other fashion and beauty ads that were banned by the ASA:
Louis Vuitton (May 2010)
Diesel 'Be Stupid' (June 2010)
Complaint: The ads are offensive and encourage anti-social behavior.
ASA verdict: "The image of the woman exposing herself on the ladder in poster ad (b) was likely to cause serious or widespread offence because, although her breasts were only partially visible, the image showed her exposing herself to a surveillance camera. We were further concerned that the images of young women photographing their genitalia and exposing their breasts to a camera in a public place were unsuitable to be displayed on posters, an untargeted medium that was likely to be seen by children, because of the overt sexualisation involved in the depicted acts."
Yves Saint Laurent Belle D'Opium — TV Spot (Feb. 2011)
Complaint: The complaint referred to the TV spot only, which showed a woman simulating drug use.
ASA verdict: "While we recognised the name OPIUM® was a well-known designer perfume brand and did not consider it irresponsible or offensive to advertise OPIUM® branded products, and while we noted the consumer research found that most viewers did not consider the ad to be offensive, we nevertheless considered the woman's actions simulated drug use, and therefore concluded it was irresponsible and unacceptable for broadcast."
Julia Roberts & Christy Turlington for L'Oreal (July 2011)
Complaint: Overly airbrushed, therefore the ads exaggerate the effectiveness of the products advertised.
ASA verdict: "On the basis of the evidence we had received we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve, and that the image had not been exaggerated by digital post-production techniques."
Hailee Steinfeld for Miu Miu (Nov. 2011)
Complaint: Irresponsible and suggestive of youth suicide.
ASA verdict: "Because the ad showed Hailee Steinfeld, who was 14 years of age only when the photo was shot, in a potentially hazardous situation sitting on a railway track, we concluded the ad was irresponsible and in breach of the Code in showing a child in a hazardous or dangerous situation."
Dakota Fanning for Marc Jacobs 'Oh Lola' Fragrance (Nov. 2011)
Complaint: Overly-sexualized depiction of a young girl.
ASA verdict: "We understood the model was 17 years old but we considered she looked under the age of 16. We considered that the length of her dress, her leg and position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality. Because of that, along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence."
Drop Dead (Nov. 2011)
Complaint: Too-thin model.
ASA verdict: "We noted that Drop Dead's target market was young people. We considered that using a noticeably skinny model with visible hip, rib, collar and thigh bones, who wore heavy makeup and was posed in ways that made her body appear thinner, was likely to impress upon that audience that the images were representative of the people who might wear Drop Dead's clothing, and as being something to aspire to. Therefore, while we considered the bikini and denim short images might not cause widespread or serious offence, we concluded they were socially irresponsible."
Rachel Weisz for L'Oreal (January 2012)
Complaint: This ad for an anti-wrinkle cream was charged with misleading consumers, because the image appeared to have been Photoshopped and therefore misrepresented what the product could achieve.
ASA verdict: "Although we considered that the image in the ad did not misrepresent the luminosity or wrinkling of Rachel Weisz’s face, we considered that the image had been altered in a way that substantially changed her complexion to make it appear smoother and more even. We therefore concluded that the image in the ad therefore misleadingly exaggerated the performance of the product in relation to the claims 'SKIN LOOKS SMOOTHER' and 'COMPLEXION LOOKS MORE EVEN.'"
Katy Perry for Proactiv (July 2012)
Complaint: The American formula for Proactiv uses a different compound than the British version. Therefore, American singer Katy Perry's testimonial for the product misleads British consumers.
ASA verdict: "We noted the ads were targeted at a UK audience and that the UK Proactiv products had a different active ingredient to the US version. In that context, we therefore considered the claims of continued use had not been substantiated. We concluded that the ads were misleading."
Natalie Portman for Christian Dior (Oct. 2012)
Complaint: Portman's lustrous lashes are the result of Photoshop, not the product being advertised.
ASA verdict: "Because we considered that we had not seen sufficient evidence to show that the post-production retouching on Natalie Portman's lashes in the ad did not exaggerate the likely effects of the product, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead."
Mila Kunis for Rodial (Jan. 2013)
Complaint: Misleading claims — is Kunis' enviable physique really the result of Rodial?
ASA verdict: "Because robust evidence was not presented to demonstrate the implied efficacy claims for the product or that Mila Kunis had achieved the look featured in the photo as a result of using the product, we concluded that the ad was misleading."
American Apparel (April 2013)
Complaint: Ads are overtly sexual and objectify women.
ASA verdict: "We considered there was a voyeuristic quality to the images, which served to heighten the impression that the women were vulnerable and in sexually provocative poses. For the reasons given, we considered the ads were likely to cause serious offence to visitors to American Apparel's website."
Urban Outfitters (Feb. 2014)
Complaint: Urban Outfitters is irresponsibly encouraging excessive alcohol consumption.
ASA verdict: "The ASA considered the advertiser's assertion that the two phrases represented an attitude of disregard and that 'Fuck my liver' did not necessarily relate to alcohol consumption. However, we considered that the strong link with the product's purpose and the reference to 'liver' would be interpreted as a direct reference to alcohol consumption. We considered that the phrase 'Fuck my liver' was a message to actively disregard well-known advice about the negative effects of alcohol on the liver."