Sep 13, 2019 | By Athena Chen
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Kering’s Yves Saint Laurent brand was in familiar territory this week after a series of complaints to French advertising authorities over its latest ad campaign. The brand has previously seen objections to over-sexualised advertising and use of very thin models and the latest furore further illustrates the the line brands have to walk around their marketing efforts.
A poster campaign running in Paris was a major talking point on social media with objectors saying that the ad visuals glorified excessively skinny models and featured degrading images.
The advertising watchdog, Autorité de Regulation Professionnelle de la Publicité (ARPP), said most of the 50 complaints it received were around the ads being seen as an “incitement to rape”.
French advertising rules ban any “degrading and humiliating representations of people.”
One image featured a black and white crotch shot while another was of a very tall thin young woman on stiletto roller skates bending over a stool.
The brand has seen protests in France before over too-sexualised imagery and an ad issued under previous creative chief Hedi Slimane in 2015 was banned in the UK on the grounds that the model looked unhealthily thin.
Stephane Martin, director of the ad standards body, said it looked like the brand had breached regulations. He added that the company had asked the company to modify the ads.
Martin also told news agencies that it was not desirable to revive the trend for “porno chic” that had been strong 10 years ago and that the use of very skinny models in this particular visuals could be a concern.
The watchdog is meeting Saint Laurent representatives on Friday and will decide what action to take.
From a world in which sexualised advertising was the norm, brands have had to learn to tread a much more careful line in recent years as countries tighten up regulations and social media allows protest to spread faster than ever.
In 2015, Protein World’s Are you Beach Body Ready? ad garnered protest internationally over its body shaming impact. And only last month the company’s 2017 version, featuring Khloe Kardashian, saw calls for its to be banned in London.
London mayor Sadiq Khan had said any ads that put pressure on consumers to conform to an unhealthy/unrealistic body image would be banned from the city’s transport network as a direct reaction to the 2015 ad.
Calvin Klein also ran into trouble last year with a series of images shot by Tyrone Lebon that, like one of the Saint Laurent images, featured a crotch shot. There were protests via social media about the campaign.
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