An advert for clothing brand Missguided that was shown during Love Island has been banned for objectifying women.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that the commercial, which featured the tagline “If you plan on wearing clothes this summer … we’ve got you covered … kind of”, presented women as sexual objects and therefore was “irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence.”
The ad featured various shots of women in swimwear and thong bikinis, with one model seen running her hand up her inner thigh, while another posed in a bikini with her legs astride on a motorcycle.
One formal complaint was made against the commercial, claiming it “overly sexualised and objectified women” and was therefore “offensive and irresponsible”.
It was played over the summer during VOD airing of ITV’s Love Island, a dating reality show that features young men and women – often wearing just swimwear – competing to be part of a winning couple.
ITV said the ad depicted similar values, swimwear and scenes as Love Island and that it was surprised to learn that a viewer of the programme had considered its content offensive. It said the ad had an age restriction and had been approved for VOD only.
The broadcaster said the ad was a “typical swim/beachwear creative that had a contextual relevance with the Love Island programme which was not a programme aimed at an audience below the age of 16”.
The ASA said: “The ad appeared during the programme Love Island, and we acknowledged that there were similarities between the content of the ad and the programme, which was a reality dating show in which male and female contestants were featured often wearing swimwear or other revealing clothing and sometimes engaging in degrees of sexual behaviour.
“However, we considered that some viewers who enjoyed the programme would nevertheless be seriously offended by advertising that presented women as sexual objects.”
The ASA ruled that the advert “must not appear again in its current form”.
It added: “We told Missguided Ltd not to use advertising that objectified women and which was likely to cause serious offence.”
Missguided had argued that it had “tried to promote a particular lifestyle rather than just clothing”.
It said the display of skin was relevant, necessary and unavoidable given that the ad was promoting bikinis and that its images that may have been construed as sexual, such a strawberry between lips, were merely “motifs used to create the lifestyle brand.”