Photo: Book cover
Agent Provocateur, the lingerie line whose underwear is as impractical as its prices are high, escaped a ban in the U.K. after arguing that its ads weren’t celebrating violence against women but rather paying homage to a British movie studio famous for its low-budget vampire movies.The British Advertising Standards Authority heard a complaint from a single viewer who believed the ad was misogynist, and therefore in breach of the country’s strict advertising rules.
The 2-minute epic depicts a home invasion in which several lingerie-clad models drag a woman through her house and perform a fetish-y interpretative dance routine before making her one of their own. At one point, one of the models is used as a chair. The ad, titled “Fleurs du Mal,” is scored to a headache-inducing death metal track.
It was named one of B.I.’s 10 Worst Ads of 2011.
In its defence, Agent Provocateur argued:
“… one of the gowns in the collection reminded the film’s director of the type of gown that was worn by ‘victims’ in classic 1950s Hammer horror films. The style suited Agent Provocateur perfectly, because in the past horror was the only way of showing sex in a film. Sex and horror had always been woven together but, they understood, had never been parodied in a film for a fashion label. They said the online video had been viewed over 450,000 times since its launch and there had not been any other complaints.”
Hammer Films and its “Hammer House of Horror” imprint, was a British movie studio that produced dozens of cheaply made shockers from the 1950s to the 1970s, including nine versions of “Dracula” alone.
Amazingly, the ASA bought Agent Provocateur’s defence:
“We acknowledged some viewers might find some of the scenes distasteful but considered the highly stylised nature and clearly fictional content of the video meant it was unlikely to be interpreted by most viewers in the way the complainant suggested. We considered the ads did not demean women and were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to visitors to the Agent Provocateur website.”
Here, for posterity, “Fleurs du Mal”:
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