The ad features 24-year old model Carmen Kass, who is pulling at her knickers to reveal the letter G shaved into her pubic hair while a male model is kneeling down beside her in a provocative position. The picture was taken by celebrity photographer Mario Testino and has been unofficially dubbed "Pubic Enemy".
The Advertising Standards Authority said this morning that once it receives an official complaint it will investigate the ad. So far the watchdog said it had received around 10 telephone complaints, and one written complaint about a Gucci ad in Vogue's sister title Tatler, although this was for a different and less offensive execution.
However, consumer groups have this morning attacked the ad calling it "deeply offensive" and "extremely harmful" and called for its immediate ban.
Robert Whelan, of the Family Education Trust, said: "It is hugely disappointing that a magazine like Vogue should be displaying images like this."
John Beyer, director of Mediawatch UK, which claims it monitors media standards on behalf of consumers, said the ads were damaging to society and called for the ASA to exercise tighter controls on such sexually explicit ads. "Imagery showing young women in this way is extremely harmful to society and should not be appearing in mainstream magazines."
He added: "The ASA has a duty to ensure that advertisements are decent, and this clearly isn't. It's deeply offensive and should be banned immediately."
Conde Nast defended Vogue's decision to run the ad. "The new Gucci ad is running in every important fashion magazine in Europe and Asia," a Vogue spokesman said.
"It's been personally created by Tom Ford, the genius behind Gucci," he added.
Ford was also responsible for the controversial Yves St Laurent ads featuring a reclining Sophie Dahl wearing nothing but a pearl choker and a pair of stillettoes.
The advertising watchdog received 730 complaints about the ad, more than any other campaign since the British Safety Council’s safe sex campaign in 1995, which featured the Pope wearing a crash helmet.
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