A series of website adverts by clothing chain American Apparel have been banned by a UK watchdog after complaints that they were “pornographic and exploitative”.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rapped the US firm for the “gratuitous nudity” in the ads, which appeared on its website and in Crack, a free lifestyle magazine.
Eight ads showed young women revealing their breasts or buttocks in various states of undress.
It comes amid pressure on advertisers to tone down overtly sexualised images, with the government leading a clampdown on outdoor ads in the wake of the Bailey Review.
American Apparel argued that the images were those of the type people share every day on social networks.
The retailer also said advertising standards should be judged by the views of the “majority of decent and reasonable people, not a small and puritanically-minded minority”.
But the ASA upheld a complaint that the adverts are “exploitative” and likely to cause “serious and widespread offence”.
The watchdog said the nudity was gratuitous, as the majority of the clothes being modelled were not lingerie, but the shots of naked bodies were the “focal points of the images rather than the products”.
It also explained that there was a “voyeuristic and amateurish quality to the images, which served to heighten the impression that the ads were exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women”.
Meanwhile, the ASA has allowed H&M to continue using images of David Beckham in nothing but a pair of pants, as the shot is “not overtly sexual and didn’t have explicit nudity”.