London-based fashion company Nobody’s Child had two ads banned by the UK advertising regulator appearing to sexualize a child.
The ads had appeared on bus shelters in the UK in November 2015. One presented a female model on the arm of a sofa, wearing a black jumpsuit and high heels, while the other featured the same model sitting on a chair, wearing a tartan skirt (see both below.) Both ads had the brand name placed next to the model in prominent text.
The ads sparked complaints suggesting the poses and facial expressions of the model “sexualized someone who they considered appeared to be a child.” Additionally, one complainant suggested the ads were “irresponsible and offensive” because they believed the images, juxtaposed with the brand name “Nobody’s Child,” implied the images were of a vulnerable child.
Nobody’s Child responded that the 21-year-old model was “not sexualized” and “would not be perceived as being a child or vulnerable.” The company added that it had not used heavy makeup or bright lipstick so that the ads did not project “any kind of vulgarity.” The brand explained that its name demonstrates that its target audience is adults, who are longer children and “now their own person.”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said in its adjudication that both ads were “mildly sexually suggestive” and that the pose in the second “suggested vulnerability.” It also noted that despite the model’s age being 21, she appeared younger, especially in the context of the brand name “Nobody’s Child.”
The regulator ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form. It also told Nobody’s Child to ensure that the same violations were not made in the future.
Here’s the first banned ad:
And this is the second banned ad, which ASA said suggested vulnerability:
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