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ASA Rules Chanel TV Ad Inappropriately Scheduled

The spot for the Coco Mademoiselle fragrance may not be broadcast in its current form in or around programs appealing to children in the U.K.

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LONDON The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in London has upheld a complaint made against a TV ad for Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle fragrance, featuring Keira Knightley, that was shown during “Ice Age 2.”
 
The commercial in question featured Knightley being photographed on a bed and then being undressed by a photographer before undressing herself. She is then shown crawling toward the photographer before lying back on the bed. Before the photographer can kiss her, she puts a finger to his lips and says, "lock the door." The ad was approved by Clearcast with no scheduling restriction.

The single complainant believed that due to the ad’s sexual overtones, it was inappropriate to air the commercial during a film that was likely to appeal to children.

The ASA acknowledged that the undressing took place in the context of a photo shoot but maintained that those scenes were sexually suggestive and therefore unsuitable for young children. The regulating body ruled that the ad was inappropriately scheduled and that it must not be broadcast again in the U.K. in its current form in or around programs of particular appeal to children.
   
In its response to the complaint, Chanel said that the character in the ad was intended to reflect the independence of Coco Chanel and that “Ice Age 2” was chosen with the knowledge that it was not only a cartoon but had a clear appeal to adults. They said the same time slot on the channel on which the film was shown was known to have included a sitcom and a soap opera, both of which included adult themes from time to time. The brand pointed out that there is no nudity in the commercial and that a degree of sexual charge is common in fragrance ads. It added that while the character was playful and sensual, she was not overtly sexual and her telling the photographer to "lock the door" was a distraction because the next shot showed that she had left.

According to the ASA, “[Chanel] said a degree of sexual charge was common in perfume ads, but they believed the fact that it featured a well-known actress in the context of a staged photo shoot made it more staged and filmic rather than raunchy. While there was a sexual frisson, it was more akin to flirtation and there was no kissing or fondling. The only nudity was a rear shot of the actress' shoulders; however, that was in the context of the photo shoot. She then tricked the photographer so she could leave, which Clearcast believed lessened the sexual tension in the scene. They believed the ad was therefore suitable to be shown without a restriction.”