TOO MUCH OF A ROGUE: Rihanna’s risqué style, honored with a CFDA Fashion Icon award Monday night, is causing waves in Britain. The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority issued a ruling that a poster campaign for Rihanna’s fragrance Rogue — in which she poses with her arms crossed over her chest, wearing only underwear and high heels — was “provocative” and “sexually suggestive.” It ruled that the ad should now only appear with placement restrictions, to reduce the possibility of it being seen by children.
Parlux Ltd., which partners with Rihanna on her fragrances, had argued that the ad depicted Rihanna “in a position of power,” and said that it was consistent with advertising for Rihanna’s previous fragrance launches and “reflected the advertising norms of the fragrance industry.”
This story first appeared in the June 5, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The ruling followed a single complaint about the ad, after it was displayed on elevator doors in a U.K. mall. While the complainant also challenged the ad on a second count, that it was “overly sexual and demeaning to women,” the ASA didn’t uphold that complaint. Instead, the ASA noted that the “overall impression of Rihanna created by the ad was one of confidence,” concluding “the ad was unlikely to be demeaning to women or cause serious or widespread offence.”
The ASA’s ruling means the ad must not appear again without a placement restriction. A spokesman for the ASA said this would involve the advertiser working more closely with media owners, to determine whether a poster site was near to schools or other locations where children were likely to see it. “It’s not an outright ban, but it’s about placing [the advert] a bit more sensitively,” the spokesman said.
Rihanna isn’t the only well-known name or brand to feel the force of the ASA. Last year, the organization — which independently regulates advertising across all media in the U.K. — ruled that two ads on American Apparel’s Web site were “gratuitous,” taking issue with images such as one that showed a model reclining on a bed wearing only a turtleneck sweater. It concluded that the ads “must not appear again in their current form.” In 2011, the ASA banned a print ad for Marc Jacobs’ Oh, Lola fragrance in the U.K., which featured actress Dakota Fanning shot by Juergen Teller, as it considered the ad “could be seen to sexualize a child,” arguing that the then 17-year-old Fanning “appeared to be under the age of 16.” Beyoncé came under fire in 2010 for an ad for her fragrance Heat, which the ASA ruled could only be broadcast in the U.K. after 7:30 p.m., after it ruled the commercial was “sexually suggestive.”