The British Advertising Standards Authority has given Tom Ford as pass in connection with its Black Orchid fragrance ad, starring model Cara Delevingne. According to the ASA's report, it received two complaints stemming from the ad, which stars a nude Delevingne, one of which held that the ad's placement on a billboard in London’s Brick Lane was inappropriate as children could see it, and that it was close to churches and mosques; a second complaint alleges that the ad is “degrading and objectified women.”
Tom Ford's counsel responded to both complaints, stating that the ad is “sensuous but not sexual” and that it was “highly stylized and artistic.” Moreover, the brand held that the ad is located in “a hip urban neighborhood,” and that there were no schools within 100 meters (or 328 feet) of the ad. (this point directly related to the ASA’s provosion that states that sexual imagery in outdoor advertising must not be placed within 100 meters of a school). Moreover, Ford's counsel stated that the campaign is located 100 meters from the closest mosque and 300 meters from the closest church. It seems as though the ASA, which is the UK's independent regulator of advertising across all media, tasked with ensuring that it is free of misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements, sided with Ford, as it has not requried the brand to take action in connection with the ad campaign.
Interestingly, the two complaints at issue have nothing on some of Tom Ford's former work. When the designer was serving as creative director at Yves Saint Laurent, he dreamt up the Sophie Dahl for YSL Opium campaign, which was shot by Steven Meisel and was published in 2000. The ad featured a fully naked Dahl lounging on her back and was plastered on billboards. After its launch, the British ASA received almost 1,000 complaints, making the Opium ad one of the most-complained-about campaigns in ASA history.
In that case, the ASA required that YSL take action, holding: "We agree with public complaints that a poster ad for Opium perfume featuring a naked Sophie Dahl is sexually suggestive and, in an untargeted medium, likely to cause serious or widespread offence."