'Mildly sexual' Rosie Huntington-Whitely underwear ad cleared

A Marks & Spencer underwear ad starring model and actress Rosie Huntington-Whitely has been cleared by the ad watchdog, despite complaints that it was "overtly sexual" and "degrading to women".

Rosie Huntington-Whitely: model is pictured here in a previous M&S ad campaign
Rosie Huntington-Whitely: model is pictured here in a previous M&S ad campaign

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received complaints about three digital outdoor ads, which were created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and ran on CBS Outdoor’s portfolio.

Two of the ads showed Huntington-Whitely in underwear from her M&S collection, turning her body from the side to the front, while the third showed her rotating to the front and then to the back, displaying her buttocks.

Seven people complained about the underwear ads to the ASA. They raised concerns that the ads were "overtly sexual, explicit, degrading to women and reinforced sexual stereotypes of women".

The complainants also challenged whether the ads were offensive and unsuitable for public display where they could be seen by children.

The ASA noted the complainants' concerns about the ads, but considered it was acceptable for advertisers of lingerie to show their products modelled in ads – provided they did so responsibly.

Although the ASA found the ad that showed Huntington-Whitely’s buttocks was "marginally more suggestive" than the other two, it ruled that it was unlikely to be regarded by most people as anything more than "mildly sexual".

The copy was fully approved by CBS Outdoor before it went live and M&S said its agencies, Walker Media and Posterscope, were particularly careful of schools and ethnic communities when planning lingerie campaigns.

The ASA noted that M&S had applied a placement restriction such that the ads would not appear near schools and considered this was "more than sufficient".


Subscribe to Campaign from just £57 per quarter

Includes weekly and quarterly print issues, plus unrestricted online access.


Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now
BBH deputy ECD Caroline Pay exits

1 BBH deputy ECD Caroline Pay exits

Bartle Bogle Hegarty has parted company with its deputy executive creative director Caroline Pay and has promoted Ian Heartfield, creative managing partner, and Anthony Austin, chief executive of Black Sheep Studios, to take over as joint deputy ECDs.

Agencies' anger at failure of Stronger In campaign

1 Agencies' anger at failure of Stronger In campaign

"We failed the country, we could and should have done better." So says one senior advertising executive involved in the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign.

Just published