The outdoor ad placed a QR code over the dancer’s crotch with the strapline ‘See What You’re Missing in Europe’. The image and strapline were also used for a banner campaign on Spotify.
Viewers complained the ads presented women as sex objects and objected to the placement of ads in areas where children could see them.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled the adverts were “likely to cause offence” because of the pun about the potential of “seeing the dancer’s genital area”. The point was compounded by the call to action for viewers to scan the boxed-out area with a smartphone, according to the watchdog.
National Express defended the campaign, but admitted that they could have toned down the images down prior to launching the adverts. Additionally, it said media owners, without its knowledge or consent, had placed the outdoor ads in family-friendly environments
The ads must not be shown again in their current form.
Elsewhere, IT retailer Aria Technology also fell foul of similar advertising rules after it ran a campaign featuring a women wearing only underwear.
The ASA said the combination of the model’s sultry expression and provocative positions in the ad meant it was likely to be seen as sexually provocative.