A series of adverts for an "ethical" women's clothing brand have been banned following complaints that they sexualised vulnerable children. Two posters by Nobody's Child clothing company were found by the UK advertising regulators to breach codes concerning "harm and offence".
One ad showed a female model wearing a black jumpsuit and heeled shoes, sitting on the arm of a sofa with her breasts partially exposed and her mouth open. The other showed a woman sitting in what looked like an oversized chair wearing a tartan dress. Text on both adverts read: "nobody's child.com".
Several people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the promotions "sexualised someone who they considered appeared to be a child". They said the model used looked under 18 and that the text "nobody's child" suggested the images portrayed were of vulnerable children.
The clothing company, which uses the slogan "ethical fashion" to promote what it says are responsible manufacturing practices, said the model used was 21-years-old. In its opinion, she "was not sexualised and would not be perceived as being a child or vulnerable".
The company added: "The name Nobody's Child was intended to reflect the feeling their target audience experienced, that they were no longer children and were now their own person. The name was, therefore, recognition that their target audience had reached an age where they could make their own decisions and be their own people, rather than conveying vulnerability."
But in a ruling published on Wednesday (30 March), the ASA disagreed and ordered the adverts should never appear again. The watchdog said it considered the poses and gaze of the woman in the first advert were "mildly sexually suggestive", and that her pose in the other "suggested vulnerability".
It added: "We understood the model featured in the ads was 21 years of age but considered she appeared younger, and that when shown in conjunction with the prominent brand name 'nobody's child.com', would be regarded as appearing to be a child. We therefore concluded the ads portrayed a model who appeared to be a child in a way that was sexually suggestive and could be perceived as being vulnerable.
"We concluded that the ads were irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence. The ads must not appear again in their current form."
The ruling comes as the ASA continues to crack down on clothing companies using sexualised imagery of young-looking models. Last year, American Apparel was ordered to remove an online advert that portrayed a "sexualised" image of a model who "looked under 16 years of age".
It was the second time in six months that the company's ads had been banned in the UK. In September, the ASA banned adverts with images linked yo the firm's 'School Days' and 'Back to School' ranges, one of which showed a woman in a short skirt bending over so that her underwear was visible.
The agency then said the images had the "potential to normalise predatory sexual behaviour" towards young women.