Smile please, you're naked: Ella Bache ad rejected for 'serious' sexy faces

By Frank Chung | 9 September 2013
The OMA found the models' serious expressions could heighten the sexual overtones of the image.

A campaign for skincare brand Ella Bache has been knocked back by the Outdoor Media Association because the models' serious expressions were deemed to "increase the sexual overtones of the image". The OMA has defended the decision.

The ad, intended as part of a coordinated series of billboards, depicts three models with the tagline 'Skin Solutions As Individual As You Are'. As part of its content advisory review for members, the OMA cited the AANA Code of Ethics Section 2.4 which relates to treating "sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience".

In its advice to Ella Bache, the OMA said: "We considered that while the nudity was relevant to the product, the serious facial expressions did increase the sexual overtones of the image.

"We have said that the alternative images where the girls are smiling are acceptable as it is less sexualised and is relevant to the product – we also asked that one girl's breasts be covered up which was achieved by increasing the font of 'Ella Bache'."

Faie Davis, freelance creative director for Ella Bache, told AdNews she was stunned by the decision and at first "thought it was a joke". "It jeopardises the whole thing we wanted to do – the buy was such that you'd see one serious [execution] and the next one they were laughing," she said.

Davis said political correctness was "invading everything" and no one wanted to "take a risk or do something compelling". "What made it seem so ludicrous was the girls are in identical positions. If you asked someone which of these images you found offensive, I would think maybe the smiling one because it looks like they're having a good time naked."

OMA chief executive Charmaine Moldrich has defended the decision, saying while she thought both images were "beautiful", from the OMA's understanding of previous ASB determinations and prevailing community standards, the image with serious expressions could fall under objectification.

"The one where they're smiling is more empowering – they're feeling good about themselves – whereas the one when they're staring down the camera could be interpreted as being sexualised, more, 'Why don't you look at me while I'm nude'," she said.

Moldrich said it wasn't about playing it safe, it was about "playing within the rules and understanding the prevailing community standards". "If we were playing it safe we would have said to put some clothes on them. We're not shying away – we didn't change the intent of the campaign which is about being in your skin."

For a body like the OMA, Moldrich suggested, it's "damned if you do, damned if you don't".

'Serious' version:



'Happy' version:



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