ASA Adjudication on Matalan Retail Ltd
Matalan Retail Ltd
15 August 2012
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all of which were Not upheld.
Three posters for Matalan swimwear:
a. The first ad showed three women wearing bikinis posing outside a row of beach huts. Text stated "The economic outlook. Sunny. Bikini separates from £4".
b. The second ad showed four women in bikinis standing on a beach looking into the distance. Text stated "A boost for your economy ... Bikini separates £3".
c. The third ad showed three women standing by the sea with their arms around each other, smiling. The woman in the centre was wearing a cover up and the two on either side of her were wearing bikinis. Text stated "The economic outlook. Sunny. Bikini separates from £5".
1. One complainant challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were inappropriate to be displayed where they could be seen by children.
2. Two complainants challenged whether ad (c) was offensive and unsuitable for display in an untargeted medium.
3. One complainant challenged whether ad (c) was inappropriate to be displayed where it could be seen by children.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1., 2. & 3.
Matalan Retail Ltd (Matalan) told us the posters in question formed part of the advertising campaign for its "Holiday Shop" range, which consisted of summer clothes and beachwear. They said the images used in the campaign had also been used in a mailer to Matalan Reward Card customers, which was sent to over three million customers, and that they were not aware of any complaints about the mailer. They said it was accepted across the market that the best way to market clothing was by showing people wearing the clothing and it was almost inevitable that advertising for bikinis would feature people wearing bikinis. They said, whilst they accepted that the women in the ads were to some extent "scantily clad", they did not consider that the bikinis were unduly revealing or that the poses were in any way provocative. Furthermore, they did not feel that the text was offensive, provocative and laden with innuendo. They told us they considered that the advertising campaign had been prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society and was planned to minimise any potential offence.
1., 2. & 3. Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged the complainants had been concerned by the images and did not feel they were suitable for display in an untargeted medium. However, we noted the ads did not show any nudity and that the images of women wearing bikinis were clearly relevant to the product being advertised. We noted that the models were posed naturally in ads (b) and (c) and that the poses of the models in ad (a) were no more than mildly sexual. We considered that the models' facial expressions were not sexually provocative, and that the text did not contain any innuendo. Whilst we understood that the ads may not appeal to everyone, we considered that the ads were not sexual in tone and we concluded that they were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
We investigated the ads under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.