A billboard for a plastic surgery business featuring a naked woman has been banned by the Advertising Standards Board for the second time, despite the company claiming the complaint was a “total waste” of time.
The billboard for Enhance Clinic featured an image of a naked woman with her hand resting over her groin and a love heart over the region. The name of the company also concealed the woman’s nipples. It also contained text listing the procedures available at the clinic.
The complaint against the billboard said it was “bordering on pornographic”.
“Just because a nipple is covered doesn’t mean the breast is covered. And the hand only just covers the pubic area. It is rude, offensive, degrading, a distraction to people driving and not something young eyes should be viewing. There is no need to have so much nudity,” the complainant said.
Get business news first
Sign up to SmartCompany’s daily newsletter
A previous version of the billboard which featured no love heart over the woman’s genitals was deemed unacceptable by the ASB in 2011.
Complaints in 2011 also criticised the advertisement for being pornographic and also said it was irresponsible due to the increase in eating disorders among young women, with such advertising allegedly contributing to the problem.
In response to the complaint, Enhance Clinic said the complaint was a “total waste of ours and the department’s time and should be treated as nothing more than a malicious and spurious complaint”.
Enhance Clinic said it considered the advertisement “tasteful”, as it frequently does intimate surgeries on women “below the waist”.
“The sign is meant to bring us business by ensuring viewers know what we do, we chose to use this image as we think it ensures we don’t discriminate, as we cater for all ages, from young ladies to the elderly, male and female and our customers have commented positively on our branding. We want to promote confidence in your own skin,” Enhance Clinic said.
“The person depicted in this picture is naked but you cannot see any offensive body part at all, and the pose does not promote any sexual themes. This is the same pose we have copied from many other medical or cosmetic websites so it is quite common.”
Despite the clinic’s arguments, the ASB found the rejigged version of the billboard had not addressed the concerns previously raised in 2011 and still has a “sexualised tone”.
“The Board considered that the advertisement did not treat the issue of sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience and that it did breach section 2.4 of the Code,” the ASB found.
“The Board considered that as in the previously considered case, the woman’s hand appears more as if she is touching her genital area, rather than covering it.”
Dr Lauren Rosewarne from the University of Melbourne previously told SmartCompany sexuality has been present in advertising since the 1700s.
“We talk about the mainstreaming of pornography where aspects of porn culture have started to appear in mainstream advertisements, but it’s difficult to determine these days what is mainstream advertising when it comes in many different forms,” she said.
“Sexuality is a really easy technique of advertising, you don’t have to be clever, it’s a default position everyone can do since it doesn’t rely on artistry or clever words or humour, but it keeps getting used because it validates itself.”
Rosewarne said advertisers need to consider what form their advertisement takes when they’re using sexualised content.
“If you look at what’s shown on billboards for example, this means any audience can see it including three-year-olds and older people. Whereas you can be more selective and targeted if you advertise in a magazine or a television show in a later time slot,” she said.