D&G 'knifing' ads banned after 166 complaints

LONDON - Ads for Dolce & Gabbana clothing that depict the aftermath of a knifing, which appeared in The Times and Daily Telegraph, have been banned by the advertising watchdog after drawing 166 complaints.

One ad depicted four men dressed in D&G clothing. Two of the men were brandishing knives in an aggressive manner towards a third man, while a fourth man lay on the floor with a wound to his head.

An ad in the Daily Telegraph magazine supplement featured two men supporting a woman who was holding a knife and had a wound to her chest.

Mothers against Murder and Aggression and Media March were concerned the ads were irresponsible because they condoned and glamorised knife-related crime in the UK. In particular, 47 complainants believed the ads were offensive because of the proliferation of knife-related crime in the UK.

D&G said it was an international fashion house with a youthful and innovative clothing style, designed to reflect Mediterranean culture. D&G explained that its latest collection was designed to evoke the Napoleonic period and the related ad campaign took its inspiration from well-known paintings by Delacroix and David. The ads had run in the US, Europe, China, Hong Kong and Japan without complaint.

D&G argued that the men in the ads were not brandishing the knives in an aggressive manner and did not give the impression they were going to stab each other. There were no words or expressions used to suggest violence or offense and the wound to the woman's chest were made to look unrealistic.

While The Times said it had received several complaints and would be discussing the ads with D&G as a matter of urgency, The Daily Telegraph maintained that although a small number of readers had complained about the ad featuring four men, it did not believe its readers would see it as condoning violence.

The ASA upheld all complaints relating to the aggressive use of knives in that ads because it considered the scenes likely to cause serious and widespread offence. It also believed the scenes glamorised knife-related crime. However, it did not uphold complaints that the ads featuring the injured woman condoned self-harm. The ASA noted that the ads appeared in a supplement with an adult readership. Because of this the ASA decided it was unlikely to encourage self-harm among young people.

In September 2006, the two designers were featured in a Motorola Razr ad. The ad received 160 complaints that it condoned knife violence and glamorised sexual violence. The ad showed the designers standing next to each other with one holding the slim line flip-top phone so that it resembled a barber's razor, while the other designer had a red cut down his cheek giving the impression that he had been slashed with a razor blade. The ASA did not uphold the complaints.

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