The UK is really on top of advertisers, and they're quick to impose rules about "appropriate" messages. They famously banned a sexy Beyoncé fragrance commercial back in January, and a YSL Opium ad which had a perceived drug message. They've also called out beauty companies for airbrushing and not disclosing it.
Their latest target is sexy billboards. The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) laid out all sorts of new guidelines for advertisers to consider before their ads can be placed outdoors, especially if it is near a place where there's a high concentration of kids. If an ad fails to meet the criteria, it can't be placed within 100 yards of a school or childcare facility (or maybe not anywhere, depending on how raunchy it is.)
Wondering how to figure out if an ad is overstepping the boundaries of tasteful? The ASA provides guidelines, with pictures, to help you figure it out:
• Poses suggestive of a sexual position: the parting of the legs, accentuation of the hip etc. • Amorous or sexually passionate facial expressions • Exposure of breasts, including partial • Poses such as hands on the hips, gripping of hair in conjunction with a sexually suggestive facial expression • Images of touching oneself in a sexual manner, such as stroking the legs or holding/gripping the breasts • Suggestion in facial or bodily expression of an orgasm • Images of suggestive undressing, such as pulling down a bra strap or knickers • Ads which draw undue attention to body parts, such as breasts or buttocks, in a sexual way • Ads which show people in poses emulating a sexual position or alluding to sexual activity and • Overtly sexual lingerie such as stockings, suspenders or paraphernalia such as whips and chains.
So a woman in a bikini is OK, but a woman in a bikini making an, "Ooh, come here, baby" face is so not OK. Citizens in the UK seem to be quick to complain to the ASA when they're offended, so we're sure that ads which straddle the line of offensive will face scrutiny. The Daily Record points out that the Beckhams' various underwear and fragrance ads will probably be targeted.
Should the US implement similar rules? (If they did, we'd recommend that they take down those sexy-lady-robot Svedka vodka ads, purely on the basis that they're ridiculous.)