An ad for Femfresh’s bikini line shaving products, which features close-up shots of women’s crotches and comparatively few shots of their faces, has been banned by the advertising watchdog for objectifying women.
The ad appeared on video-on-demand (VOD) platforms ITV Player and All4 in March and April this year.
It features a number of women wearing swimwear and leotards dancing and working out. However much of the ad focuses on close-up shots of the women’s crotches to advertise the bikini line range, with relatively few shots of their faces.
A total of seventeen people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to challenge whether the ad objectified women and portrayed them in an overly sexualised way. The complainants believed the ad was offensive and socially irresponsible.
Parent company Church & Dwight UK argued that close-ups were used to illustrate that the product could give consumers a smooth bikini line and that they did not believe that the ad was offensive or socially irresponsible.
Neither ITV nor Channel 4 believed the ad objectified women, having received no complaints directly from viewers. The two broadcasters said they had ensured the ad was not served with inappropriate programming that might appeal to children, in line with Clearcast advice.
The ASA noted that while it was relevant for the ad to focus on the bikini line area given the product it was promoting, it considered that the ad was presented in an overly-sexualised way that focused to a large extent on the women’s crotches.
It concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and therefore breached the advertising code of conduct. Despite Clearcast clearing the ad for VOD broadcast, the ASA has banned the ad from appearing again.