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YSL’s Belle d’Opium Spot Pulled in U.K.

Standards agency ruled the spot “could be seen to simulate the effect of drugs on the body.”

LONDON — Britain’s Advertising Standards Agency has banned a television ad for Yves Saint Laurent’s Belle d’Opium fragrance and said in a ruling that it must not be broadcast again in the U.K. in its current form.

After receiving complaints about the ad from 13 viewers on the grounds that it is “irresponsible and offensive, because the [actress Mélanie Thierry’s] actions simulated drug use,” the ASA ruled that one of the scenes in the spot “could be seen to simulate the effect of drugs on the body” and another “could be seen to simulate the injection of opiates into the body.”

The full one-minute spot features Thierry performing a dance inspired by the Dance of Salome, choreographed by Akram Khan and set to music by Nitin Sawhney. In one scene, Thierry runs her finger briefly down her arm, and in another the choreography has her writhing on the floor.

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However, the ASA noted that the ads that appeared on TV were edited down to 20 seconds, which the ASA considered “created a less flowing, more frantic atmosphere in the ad.”

YSL Beauté Ltd., part of French beauty giant L’Oréal, issued a statement saying, “YSL Beauté is disappointed that the ASA has upheld the small number of complaints about this advertisement for Belle d’Opium. The advertisement was not intended to make any reference to drug culture, but to promote the sensuality and seductive qualities of the fragrance in keeping with the Opium brand, which was launched by Yves Saint Laurent over 30 years ago. Nonetheless, when the ASA told YSL that there had been some complaints about the advertisement, YSL, as a responsible advertiser, amended the advertisement in order to avoid any possible misinterpretation.”

In December 2000, YSL Beauté, then part of Gucci Group NV, was ordered to withdraw its poster ads in the U.K. for Opium, featuring Sophie Dahl after the ASA received 730 complaints.