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American Apparel Ads Banned in U.K.

The retailer's racy ad campaigns have again fallen afoul of the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority.

AMERICAN APPAREL ADS BANNED: American Apparel’s racy ad campaigns have again fallen afoul of the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA found in a ruling set to be published today that eight advertising images that appeared on American Apparel’s Web site in October breached the authority’s codes covering responsible advertising and harm and offense, and ruled that the adverts must not appear again in the U.K. in their current form. The firm also had an ad banned by the ASA in 2009 for being inappropriate.

The images in question depict youthful women in various states of undress, advertising the brand’s pullovers, socks, lingerie and hoodies. The ASA received a single complaint about nine ads, which challenged that the images were offensive, pornographic, exploitative of young women and that they inappropriately sexualized young women.

In response to the ASA’s investigation, American Apparel argued that its campaign imagery was “not graphic, explicit or pornographic but was designed to show a range of different images of people that were natural, not posed and real.” The brand also argued that the images “were less and certainly no more sexual in nature than a large proportion of images of other companies.” American Apparel noted that a number of the images were found in a section of the Web site that featured archive advertising, which was likely to be visited by people specifically interested in the brand’s creative process, and were not current ads.

However, the ASA found that the nudity in eight of the images was “gratuitous,” and that the models’ poses were “sexually provocative.”

“We concluded that the gratuitous nudity in the ads…in combination with the sexualized nature of the pose [in two images] meant the ads were exploitative and inappropriately sexualized young women,” the ASA said. The ASA noted that the images’ “amateurish” quality heightened the impression that the ads were exploitative.

The ASA didn’t uphold a complaint against one of the ads, which featured a woman lying on a bed in a sweater and knickers, as it was “only mildly sexually suggestive,” and “not likely to cause serious or widespread offense.”

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