A Femfresh advert for bikini line shaving products has been banned for portraying women in an overly sexualised way.
The advert showed women dancing around in briefs and swimwear, with multiple close-up shots of their crotches.
The Advertising Standards Authority said the advert must be removed and urged the company behind the product, Church & Dwight UK, to not use advertising “that objectified women and which was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to promote their products”.
The advert appeared on ITV Player and All 4 (formerly 4oD) in March and April and received 17 complaints saying it “objectified women” and “portrayed them in an overly sexualised way”.
Complainants said it was “offensive and socially irresponsible”.
In response, Church & Dwight UK said the ad “promoted a new line designed for shaving the bikini area” and added that the product was aimed at 18 to 34-year-old women who are engaged with current fashion and music trends and interested in beauty and fitness.
“The ad was in a gym setting, and the dancers wore swimwear and gym clothes selected to reflect what was available on the high street,” the company said.
“The dance sequence was choreographed by a female choreographer and featured moves regularly performed during dance warm-ups, yoga, Pilates, and other forms of exercise.”
When asked about the close-up shots of women’s crotches, Church & Dwight UK responded: “Close ups were used to illustrate that the product could give consumers a smooth bikini line. They had also been advised by Clearcast that the ad could be run on VOD (video on demand).”
The company did not believe the ad was offensive or socially irresponsible.
ASA agreed that, given the ad was promoting products for shaving the bikini line, and given their intended use, “it was relevant for the ad to focus on that area of the body and show women wearing swimwear and fitness wear that exposed it”.
It also noted that many of the dance moves used in the routine reflected those that might be seen in some exercise classes.
“However, overall we considered that the dance sequence was highly sexualised, in the style of a music video, and featured many thrusting dance moves,” it said.
“The ad focused to a large extent on the women’s crotches, with relatively few shots of their faces, and some of them wore high-cut swimsuits that were more exposing than many swimsuits.
“Even taking into account the nature of the product, we considered that it had been presented in an overly-sexualised way that objectified women.
“We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and therefore breached the Code.”