The ad in question appeared in East London and has the model lying naked on her front, the side of her breast and buttocks visible, holding a bottle of the Tom Ford Black Orchid perfume.
Complaints lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority suggested the ad was inappropriate as it is offensive and is degrading and objectifies women; and is inappropriate for display where children could see it and where it was close to churches and mosques.
Suggestive, not explicit
The UK watchdog acknowledges the nudity but considered Delevingne’s pose was sensual and sexually suggestive, not sexually explicit, and that this was keeping with advertising for beauty products.
“The image was stylised and artistic and in-keeping with ads for beauty products such as perfumes where depictions of feminine beauty and the female body were commonly used,” says an ASA statement.
“Whilst we understood some viewers may have found the image distasteful because of the nudity shown and implied, we considered the image itself was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence and that it did not degrade or objectify women.”
The ASA did add that because the ad is sexually suggestive the ad should not appear within 100 metres of a school, but as this was not the case, and it was placed on a busy diverse and popular street in London, any restriction is unnecessary at present.
Tom Ford response
In response to the complaints, Tom Ford reiterated that the ad is sensuous but not sexual adding that it was ‘highly stylised and artistic.’
“The intention of the ad was to capture the luxurious and sensual nature of the perfume and that the featured model, Cara Delevigne, embodied a modern version of classical femininity in keeping with the image of the Tom Ford brand,” says the advertiser’s statement, accepting that though the model was nude, it was presented in virtual profile and not in a sexual way.
It adds that there was nothing sexual about the text in the ad which simply referenced the named perfume 'Tom Ford Black Orchid', and that with regards to location that it had followed the guidelines on outdoor advertising and that it was about 100m from the closest mosque and over 300m from the closest church.
“The area in which the ad was placed was a part of London that was the centre of hip, contemporary culture and it would not cause offence to people who were likely to be in that area,” adds the beauty firm.