American Apparel slammed for 'overtly sexual imagery'

American Apparel has incurred the wrath of the advertising watchdog again after separate ads were banned for featuring “overtly sexual” images of models that appeared to be under 16 and using “unnecessarily sexual and inappropriate” imagery.

American apparel

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), ruled images on a section of American Apparel’s website which featured images of a young girl were unsuitable to be seen by children.

The watchdog added it was “offensive and irresponsible” to use the images as they sexualised a model that looked under-16. Images were displayed on a website which could be viewed by, and likely to appeal to, children under 16, the ASA continued.

Separately, three ads for hosiery on the retailer’s website were deemed “unnecessarily sexual and inappropriate” for a site that could be viewed by children.

American Apparel defended the spots claiming “it was standard practice to market hosiery, intimates or lingerie in the way done on their website” arguing that rival retailer sites selling similar products in a similar fashion and that they could also be accessed by children.

Nina Best, an expert in advertising law at Browne Jacobson, says the retailer needs to tread carefully going forward given earlier run-ins with the ASA.Previous spots have been deemed “pornographic and exploitative” by the regulator.

“The ASA has close links with the Office of Fair Trading, a body with bigger teeth than itself. It may decide to refer American Apparel’s behaviour to the regulator who has more ammunition in its armoury to tackle the arguably irresponsible advertising,” she says.

However, an ASA spokeswoman told Marketing Week was no such plans to refer the retailer to third parties as the current regulations for non-broadcast advertising prevented it from doing so and that American Apparel’s compliance rate with its rulings was satisfactory.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I am currently writing my dissertation on the sexploitation of women, and was horrified by the imagery on American Apparels website. I think something needs to be done, as the photo shoots look amateur and like child pornography. How the models can pose for shoots like that I will never know. They advertise socks by presenting a naked girl wearing them, and then you can only see a small percentage of the socks within the image. Awful advertising, and they have the cheek to say there competitors are doing the same. I do not know who these competitors are, but I've never seen anyone advertise in the same way they do.

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