Banned: The campaigns that crossed the line


The Yves Saint Laurent perfume advert starring naked model Sophie Dahl was banned in 2000, after it received nearly 1,000 complaints about her provocative pose. A TV ad for Opium also attracted complaints last year, showing a woman pointing to her inner elbow and running her finger down her forearm. The line ‘I am your addiction. I am Belle d’Opium’ was used. It was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for suggesting drug uses.

The British Safety Council

In 1995 the BSC produced a provocative leaflet featuring the Pope in a hard hat with the headline: ‘Thou shalt always wear a condom.’ The ASA upheld the 1,192 complaints.


The Coca-Cola-owned soft drink ran a TV ad in 2008 showing a young woman and her boyfriend ‘Cactus Kid’ running away from home after the girl became pregnant. Thirty two complaints were made and were upheld because the ad could be seen to condone teenage pregnancy and for its innuendo.

Nightclub leaflets This year has seen two nightclub leaflets banned by the ASA. One was distributed around Aberdeen University campus encouraging people to ‘go home with a stranger’ and another delivered near Newcastle University advertised a Tequila night using sexual imagery and inviting people to ‘come and swallow’.

Jack Wills

Last year, 19 people complained about the upmarket teenage clothing retailer’s spring catalogue, showing men and women in various states of undress on a beach, kissing and removing each others clothing. The ASA concluded that: ‘The catalogue was sufficiently provocative as to present a risk to younger teenagers.’

Life Natural Cures

A leaflet advertising a supposed herbal penis-enlargement supplement and showing men and women having sex was banned by the ASA in January – partly because it was out of keeping with the home and garden catalogue with which it was distributed.

American Apparel

One person complained about nine ads for the US clothing brand and in April this year, eight of them were banned. They showed women’s breasts and buttocks and appeared on its website and in a free magazine. The ASA said these were ‘exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women’.


‘Gentlemen, you were conceived on a night like tonight… Now get out there, great times are waiting,’ were the lines in a radio ad for the beer, which ran in December last year. Broadcast rules state that alcohol must not be linked to sexual success.

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