Despite industry-wide pushes to increase fashion’s attention to the health and safety of models, and the depiction of overly thin models (a point that is central to a new French law that went into effect last month), the British Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) has called foul on Vogue’s parent company, claiming that it featured an “unhealthily thin” model in a recent ad campaign, a move that it found to be “socially irresponsible.”
According to a decision released on Wednesday by the ASA – the self-regulatory advertising industry watchdog in the United Kingdom – at least one complaint (no. A17-391180) was filed in connection with an ad for Condé Nast Traveler Magazine as “seen in Glamour Magazine on June 22, 2017 featuring a model posed on a beach.”
The unnamed complainant “believed the model looked unhealthily thin,” and as a result, the ASA initiated an investigation centering on the ad in question. (Note: the ASA largely acts in response to complaints filed by the public).
In response to any inquiry from the ASA in connection with the ad, Condé Nast stated, “The model was very tall and slim but was not posed for the shot as it was caught in a moment between other shots.” The ASA stated that Condé Nast “acknowledged that the model’s stance accentuated her height and slender legs but said that there were no protruding bones and that the model was naturally slim and in proportion.”
As for Glamour Magazine – which is owned by Condé Nast and ran the ad at issue in its print publication – its representatives told the ASA that “internal house advertisements are run in good faith and this particular ad did not represent body image or fashion.” Per the ASA, Glamour’s reps “said that … they did not believe the shape of the model was very relevant to the ad as a whole.”
While the ASA says that it “acknowledged that the ad was for a travel magazine and that its focus was not supposed to be on the model or her clothes,” it, nonetheless, “considered that the model was the focal point of the image.” The watchdog found that the ad in question ran afoul of the UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing. In particular, it clashed with the provision that requires “marketing communications” to “be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.”
As such, the ASA has held that “the ad must not appear in its current form.” It further stated that it has required “Condé Nast Ltd to ensure that in the future their ads are prepared responsibly.”