Watchdog slams clothing brand ads that sexualise young teens

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American Apparel has once again fallen foul of the advertising watchdog with campaigns featuring “gratuitous” images and the sexualisation of models who appeared to be under 16 years old.

The clothing brand, which ran into similar problems with campaigns in 2009 and earlier this year, said the ads were “standard practice” across the industry in answer to two separate complaints.

In the first complaint, a woman said she had wanted to look at the brand’s website with her 12-year-old daughter but found that 23 images advertising stockings and hosiery were “unnecessarily sexual” and inappropriate to be seen by children.

A second complaint objected to images of what appeared to be a young girl with her breasts visible through a shirt and others featuring “overtly sexual” poses.

American Apparel, which was founded by Dov Charney in 1989, said ads that attracted the second complaint were “completely decent and were a fair representation of their product”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the model “looked under the age of 16”.

It added: “We considered both poses were sexually provocative and concluded that the images were irresponsible and likely to cause widespread offence, because they were displayed on a website which could be viewed by, and was likely to have appeal to, children under 16 years of age.”

It ruled: “The ads must not appear again.

“We told American Apparel they should not use images which were likely to sexualise models who appeared under 16 years of age.”