We love to tease Britain's ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) for being somewhat overzealous, banning ads left and right because one or two grandmoms over in the UK thought they were a tad racy for kids these days.
But it looks like the ASA has decided to take on the mother of all sexy advertisers: American Apparel.
According to the Guardian, the ASA received a single complaint regarding several American Apparel ads, which stated that the photos were "pornographic, exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women."
To which the ASA said: Well, duh.
Just kidding. The ASA, as always, takes every complaint seriously and investigates each one, meaning it examined eight potentially offensive ads from last October to see which ones were porny, which were overly sexual, which were exploitative and which were all of the above.
And as you will be unsurprised to learn, the ASA found plenty of sexual undertones in seven out of eight of the ads. A few, shown below, were axed for gratuitous nudity; a few more were deemed "exploitative" for sexualizing young women. And all but one were judged as being irresponsible "to consumers and to society" for their voyeuristic quality.
In conclusion, writes the ASA, "We told AA not to use similar images which were exploitative of women or that inappropriately sexualised young women in future."
Good luck. As most customers have come to know, the majority of the American retailer's ads have an overtly sexy feel. American Apparel has been using both implied and explicit nudity in its ads for years and is proud of it, archiving each advert on its website with the tagline, "Take a look at the unique images that define us."
The ASA has come down on the brand before, banning a 2009 spot "because the ad could be seen to sexualise a model who appeared to be a child, under the age of 16 years." But the UK watchdog has not attempted to take on American Apparel as a whole, a company that has built its image on, well, sexy images. American Apparel agreed to stop running these ads... but would anyone be surprised if the company's next round of ads is just as sexy?
See a few of the (NSFW) ads in question -- all were deemed inappropriate save for the last one. Do you think the ASA should crack down on American Apparel for its approach to advertising?
The ASA <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/15/banned-ryanair-ad_n_1279529.html?1329336365" target="_hplink">banned these Ryanair ads in February 2012</a>, deeming them too "sexually suggestive" to run in newspapers.
Drop Dead clothing line
Banned in November 2011 for<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/10/drop-dead-ads-banned-asa_n_1085903.html" target="_hplink"> showing an "underweight" model</a> and sending an "irresponsible" message.
Marc Jacobs Oh, Lola!
Banned in November 2011 for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/09/dakota-fanning-perfume-ad-banned-marc-jacobs_n_1083535.html" target="_hplink">its potential to "sexualise a child."</a>
L'Oréal's Revitalift Repair 10
Banned in February 2012, for "misleadingly exaggerated the performance of the product," i.e. smoothing over Rachel Weisz's skin with technology, not makeup.
Marks & Spencer lingerie
Banned in November 2011 for <a href="http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/news-features/TMG8924873/Marks-and-Spencer-lingerie-advert-banned-for-being-too-sexy.html" target="_hplink">showing ''objectified women''</a> and images that are ''sexually suggestive'' and likely to be seen by children.
Banned in November 2011 for being <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/26/banned-deodorant-ads-uk-lucy-pinder-lynx_n_1113958.html?1322660080" target="_hplink">"sexually suggestive, indecent, provocative."</a>
Miu Miu Fall 2011
Banned in November 2011 for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/23/hailee-steinfeld-miu-miu-ad-banned_n_1109948.html" target="_hplink">its setting, on a rail road track, being "irresponsible."</a>
Banned in July 2011 for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/27/julia-roberts-loreal-ad-ban_n_910587.html" target="_hplink">"excessive retouching."</a>
Maybelline's The Eraser
Banned in July 2011 for "excessive retouching."
Yves Saint Laurent's Belle D'Opium fragrance
Banned in February 2011 for suggesting <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/02/ysl-belle-dopium-ad-banne_n_817455.html" target="_hplink">"the injection of opiates into the body."</a>
American Apparel Ads
Some of American Apparel ads (including the one above) were banned by Britain's ASA for gratuitous nudity; a few more were deemed "exploitative" for sexualizing young women. (American Apparel photo)
Lara Stone for Calvin Klein
In 2012, Lara Stone posed with a group of male models in this Calvin Klein ad. It was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/21/calvin-klein-billboard-ba_n_771559.html" target="_blank">promptly banned by Australia's Advertising Standards Bureau</a> after they found it to be "suggestive of violence and rape."
Bulgari's Julianne Moore Ad
This ad was pulled in Italy in 2011 after the mayor of Venice found it inappropriate.
Rimmel's Mascara Ad
The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/26/why-was-this-georgia-may-_n_788605.html" target="_blank">banned this ad after they declared it misleading</a> because Georgia May Jagger is wearing false eyelashes -- even though there's a small disclaimer at the bottom that says, "show with lash inserts."
Brian Atwood's Madison Avenue Ads
The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/23/brian-atwood-ads-banned_n_1824162.html" target="_blank">video of this ad was banned from taxis and the print versions were banned</a> from the facade of Atwood's Madison Avenue store after being found to be too racy.
Natalie Portman for Dior
The Advertising Standards Authority<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/natalie-portman-dior-ad-banned-mascara_n_2004837.html" target="_blank"> banned this ad </a>because they felt the ad used excessive "post-production retouching" in order to exaggerate the real effects of the mascara being advertised.
Tom Ford's Gucci Campaign
In 2004, this Tom Ford Gucci ad campaign became controversial as women saw the girl's shaved pubic hair as degrading and wrong.
Rachel Weisz for L'Oreal Paris
This ad was banned after a complaint from Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson who claimed the ad was "misleadingly exaggerated" in that is makes Weisz look far younger than she actually is and presents a bad image for women.
American Apparel Sock Ad
Oh American Apparel, how you love to push the envelope. Here's another one that was banned because the ad is supposed to be promoting socks but it seems more to be exploiting the girl instead.
Taylor Swift for CoverGirl
This Taylor Swift mascara ad was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/20/covergirl-mascara-ad-banned_n_1159957.html" target="_blank">banned by the National Advertising Division of the COuncil of Better Business Bureaus Claims (NAD)</a> after they found the product depiction to be dishonest with it's claims that the mascara will make lashes have "2X more volume" and be "20 percent lighter."
American Apparel Models
Again, American Apparel gets in hot water when they apparently use underage models (girls younger than 16) on their website. Britain's ASA <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/05/american-apparel-sexy-ads-asa-child-models_n_2243360.html#slide=1805970" target="_blank">accused the store of "sexualizing" underage models. </a>