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Ban on sexualisation of ads

entertainment Updated: Nov 16, 2011 01:00 IST
Shara Ashraf
Shara Ashraf
Hindustan Times
Dakota Fanning


American fashion designer Marc Jacobs’ ad that shows teenage actor Dakota Fanning holding a bottle of Oh Lola perfume between her thighs has been banned in UK after the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) came down heavily on it, for being “irresponsible and likely to cause serious offense.”

The ad shot by German fashion photographer Juergen Teller shows Fanning in a pink polka dot dress with the perfume bottle placed between her thighs. “We considered that the length of her dress, her leg and position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality.

Because of that, along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child,” reads an ASA statement. Marc Jacobs reportedly responded saying, “It’s really unfortunate that people have taken anything negative from what we believe is a really good campaign, and one that so perfectly embodies the fragrance.”

Closer home, the ban has got thumbs-up from some ad gurus who feel the need to tighten the reins on advertisers that make sexually offensive ads, and the argument that “we’re too narrow-minded, look what’s happening abroad doesn’t hold any water." Adwoman Anuja Chauhan says, “Indian advertisers must take a cue from the ban. The Oh Lola ad is not only gross but dangerous too. It’s catering to paedophilic fantasy,”

Ad guru Prahlad Kakkar agrees: “The Oh Lola ad insults a woman’s intelligence. Fanning is holding the bottle quite close to her crotch. The fact that she’s a teenager makes it all the more disturbing,” he says. Talking about offensive portrayal in Indian ads, he says, with a hint of sarcasm, that foreign ad makers can take ‘inspiration’ from us.

“I find the Flying Machine ad with tag lines such as ‘what an as*’ or ‘kiss my as*’ extremely degradative: it could have been a lot more classier if they has used the word derriere.” He adds, “Self scrutinisation at the very initial level is what we need.” Not in favour of government regulations of ads, he says, “The government strikes its hammer on everyone. A bunch of officials can’t decide what’s vulgar and what’s not.”

Recently ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) banned three deo ads considering them offensive. Allan Collaco, secretary general, ASCI, says. “We have been taking stern actions on complaints.” And that’s where the problem lies, says Kakkar : “ASCI acts on complaints, and hardly has a standing of its own. By the time it bans a particular ad, it’s been on air for months.”

And the issue is not just limited to provocative ads. “There’s exploitation of young girls in the industry. Most ad makers demand teenage,innocent looking girl for prints and commercials. They are featured as objects of desire,” says Pranav Awasthi, director, Glitz, a modelling agency.