Pretty Little Thing advert banned for portraying 16-year-old model in ‘sexual way’
A Pretty Little Thing advert has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority due to it featuring a 16-year-old model in “socially irresponsible” images that depicted her in a sexual manner.
The move follows a complaint that challenged whether the ad breached the advertising code by portraying someone who is under 18 in a sexual way.
The advert, which appeared on 1 June, featured Alabama Barker as a brand ambassador along with her Y2K Edit clothing collection.
A webpage featured the headline “Y2K is calling” with text stating “channel that teen dream realness with barely-there micro mini skirts”. It also included a series of images of Barker modelling clothing from her edit. In one image, Barker wore a tight-fitting short dress whilst sucking a lollipop. Another image featured her wearing high heels and a low-cut short dress that revealed her breasts whilst spraying a water hose.
In response, Pretty Little Thing confirmed that Barker was 16 years old when the ad was shot, but said it had chosen her as a brand ambassador due to its customers being primarily aged between 16 and 24. It also said that the images of Barker sucking a lollipop were intended as a nod to the Y2K trend and were playful and girly. Referring to the hosepipe images, the retailer said it believed cooling down on a lawn on a hot day fitted the intended Y2K aesthetic.
Pretty Little Thing said it did not intend to sexualise Barker and disagreed that she was portrayed in a sexual manner. It also said that all creative was approved by Barker and her team.
In a statement, the ASA said it considered the clothing worn by Barker in the ad to be revealing and that she looked under 18 in the images.
It added: “In several images, Ms Barker was shown lying on a bed and in one of them she was licking her lips in a sexually suggestive manner. Several of the images in which she was wearing a mini skirt involved Ms Barker crouching down, or bending her leg, which accentuated the prominence of her upper thighs, to the extent that her buttocks were almost visible.
“Furthermore, we noted that in another image Ms Barker was shown spraying a water hose which was positioned between her legs, which we considered focused the eye to her crotch area. In other images, Ms Barker was shown sucking a lollipop and clutching her chest.”
The ASA also considered that the text “channel that teen dream realness with barely-there micro mini skirts” further highlighted Barker’s young age.
It has now ruled that the ad must not appear in its current form.
It added: “We told PrettyLittleThing.com to ensure future ads did not include images that portrayed or represented anyone who was, or seemed to be, under 18 in a sexual manner.”
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