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Boohoo and Missguided 'sexual' adverts banned by watchdog

By Huw Hughes



British fast-fashion brands Boohoo and Missguided have both had adverts banned by the country’s advertising watchdog for being “highly sexualised” and “socially irresponsible”.

A marketing email from Boohoo contained a photo of a female model wearing a beige jacket with the words “Send nudes. Set the tone with new season hues” written across the image. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a complaint that the reference to "send nudes" was “socially irresponsible.”

Boohoo said its the word “nude” was solely used to describe the colour resembling that of the wearer’s skin and was a word widely used by other retailers in relation to apparel. It also argued that to sign up to its website customers must be at least 18 years of age and the ad was sent to individuals who had agreed to Boohoo’s terms of use.

However, the ASA ruled that the phrase “send nudes” was likely to be understood as referring to requests for sexual photos, which could be a form of sexual harassment. It also noted that increased pressure to share such photos had been linked to negative outcomes for young people. The watchdog also said that despite Boohoo’s target market being aged 16 to 24 and despite the brand having an age requirement for its website, such information was often misreported.

Separately, an online advert from Missguided showed young women on a beach in “seductive poses” with one running her hand up her inner thigh and another with a strawberry between her lips. The ASA received a complaint that the advertisement was offensive and irresponsible from the way it sexualised and objectified women.

Missguided argued that the display of skin was “relevant, necessary and unavoidable” considering the ad was promoting the summer wear collection and that many shots also showed the models’ faces and were shot from below to “empowering, confident young women.” The brand also argued that the ad was not overly different to images you’d likely see on a beach in the summer, and was also similar to the content of ITV’s Love Island, the show before which the advert was shown.

However, the ASA ruled that many scenes were “highly sexualised”, especially one with a model sprawled out over a bike which “presented her as merely a decoration to the bike.”

Both complaints were upheld and the ASA ruled that they must not appear again in their current forms.

Photo credit: Missguided, Facebook