Jack Wills, a top British fashion brand, favoured by wealthy public school pupils and university students, has had “overtly sexual” images banned from its catalogue by the advertising watchdog.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the images of partially nude models engaging in scenes of a sexual nature were “offensive and unsuitable”.
The ruling comes at the same time as the Government is investigating the sexualisation and commercialisation of Britian’s youngsters.
Jack Wills defended its publication claiming it targeted university students aged 18 and over, but the ASA banned the pictures saying the “provocative” images “present a risk to younger teenagers”.
The ASA received 19 complaints, mainly from concerned parents. The retailer, which has 37 stores across the UK, has been told not to reprint its spring catalogue in its current form.
Liz Fraser, a media commentator writing in the Daily Mail, said: “I’m not a prude and I understand how advertising works. But then I saw the pictures. And I was horrified.”
She said: “Not only is this catalogue called Spring Term Handbook – clearly setting it out as a manifesto for sixth formers rather than adults with jobs and a maturity to understand their sexuality and how to use it – it’s also selling one message more clearly than any other.
“And that message is not, ‘Our clothes are beautiful and you’ll look great in them,’ but, ‘If you wear Jack Wills clothing, you will have sex. And not only that, but by having this sex you will be loved and popular and cool.'”
Last February a Home Office-commissioned report concluded that children were being harmed by exposure to sexual images in the media.
Author of the report, psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, called for more stringent regulation of sexual imagery in advertising.
Prior to releasing her findings, Dr Papadopoulos said: “We are hypersexualising girls, telling them that their desirability relies on being desired. They want to please at any cost.
“And we are hypermasculinising boys — many feel that they can’t live up to the porn ideal, sleeping with lots of women.”
In the report she said exposure to an increasing amount of “hyper-sexualised” images by the media was selling young people the idea that they have to look “sexy” and “hot”.
Dr Papadopoulos warned that this “drip drip” effect was causing many young people to grow up with “poor self-esteem, depression and eating disorders”.