Gucci slammed for ‘irresponsible’ ad featuring ‘unhealthily thin’ model

A Gucci ad has been banned by the ASA for featuring a “gaunt” and unhealthily thin model.

Above: The ad on the left was deemed irresponsible and banned, while the ad on the right passed
Above: The ad on the left was deemed irresponsible and banned, while the ad on the right passed

The ad, which appeared on The Times’ website in December last year, included several photos of models posing. The ad was investigated after one complainant argued the models were unhealthily thin, making the ad irresponsible.

Gucci said the ads were part of a video that portrayed a dance party and was aimed at an older, sophisticated audience. The Times and the luxury fashion retailer said it was, to some extent, a subjective issue as to whether a model looked unhealthily thin.

The brand believed both models had slim builds, but were not depicted in a way that could be interpreted as unhealthily thin. It said nowhere in the ads were any models’ “bones” visible, their makeup was natural rather than heavy (which might have accentuated the impression of thinness), lighting was uniform and warm to ensure there were no hollows caused by shadows and their clothes were not revealing. The visual parts of their bodies appeared toned and slim.

When analysing the ad, the ASA noted that the model seated on the sofa wore a short skirt which showed her legs up to her mid thighs, but considered this to be generally in proportion with the rest of her body. It stated: “For example, her knee and ankle bones were not overly noticeable. We therefore considered that the model did not appear to be unhealthily thin.”

The ASA was not as positive, however, about another model leaning against a wall. It noted that the model’s torso and arms were quite slender and appeared to be out of proportion with her head and lower body. Her pose also elongated her torso and accentuated her waist so that it appeared to be very small.

It said: “We also considered that her sombre facial expression and dark make up, particularly around her eyes, made her face look gaunt. For those reasons, we considered that the model leaning against the wall appeared to be unhealthily thin in the image, and therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.”

The ad must not appear again in its current form. It has also told Gucci to ensure that the images in their ads are prepared responsibly in future.

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