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Home Rulings PURE XS BY PACO RABANNE MENS FRAGRANCE / S SONNENBERG / 2017-6517F

PURE XS BY PACO RABANNE MENS FRAGRANCE / S SONNENBERG / 2017-6517F

Ms Sonnenberg lodged a consumer complaint against a commercial for Pure XS by Paco Rabanne Mens fragrance that was aired on SABC 3 during August 2017.

The commercial shows a topless man entering a dressing room, taking his shirt off, and admiring his muscles in a one-way mirror. A group of women are then shown standing behind the mirror also admiring the man. The man slowly takes his pants off, and sprays himself with the advertised fragrance. As the man sprays his lower abdomen, the women faint. The voice over says, "Pure XS. The new fragrance for men from Paco Rabanne.”

COMPLAINT

The Complainant submitted that the advertising is tasteless, and she questioned the message that the commercial sends to young children.  She submitted that the commercial is too risqué for TV and implied that it is pornographic.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE

In light of the complaint Clause 14 of Section II (Children) was taken into account.

RESPONSE

The Respondent submitted that the advertising is directed at members of the public who use perfume or who are in a position to purchase perfume. It clarified that the advertised product is a men’s perfume and the relevant audience are adult. The advertisement is not "addressed to” children, and nothing in the advertisement suggests that it is "likely to influence” children.  Based on the above, the Respondent submitted that the advertisement does not contravene Clause 14 of the Code.

The Respondent submitted further that the advertisement does not show any body parts and therefore there is no gratuitous nudity. The Respondent argued that the advertisement does not contain an explicit or inappropriate sexual message. While the commercial may possibly be perceived as "sexy”, it cannot be argued that is overly sexual or explicit and children are not likely to be adversely affected. If children were to find the advertisement risqué or suggestive, although it is not clear what the advertisement would be suggestive of, they would already be sexually aware. The Respondent submitted that Clause 14 does not state that an advertisement may not be suggestive. The criteria is that an advertisement may not cause harm to children. 

The Respondent made reference to the following previous rulings in support of its argument:
 - Royal Park Hotel / N Wa Kalonji / 2016-3961f (28 July 2016)

- Calvin Klein Perfume / B M Makofane / 19274 (28 June 2012)

- Canon Copiers / M Te Roller / 5126 (23 June 2006)

- Lux / South African Society For Sexual Education & Another / 4975 (25 May 2006)

- Axe Deodorant / J Conradie / 20124 (22 May 2012).

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING

The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

Clause 14 of Section II states, inter alia, that "advertisements addressed to or likely to influence children should not contain any statement or visual presentation which might result in harming them, mentally, morally, physically or emotionally”

The Respondent submitted that the commercial is not addressed to children. They did not, however, submit any flighting schedules or information to enable the Directorate to confirm that the placement is indeed targeted at only adult viewers. It would also appear from the complaint that the Complainant viewed the commercial at 1.27 pm, a time at which children may well be watching television.

The Directorate therefore concludes that while the commercial’s target audience may not be children, it nonetheless may reach children and therefore be likely to influence them. The Directorate now needs to determine whether the commercial contain any statement or visual presentation that might cause any harm to children.

In Sun International / A Falkson / 581 (1 June 2005), the Directorate dismissed objections against a billboard featuring an image of a woman wearing beads across her breasts, noting that the image would not harm children. Similarly, in SMS Hunks / Babes / G McKellar / 2232 (29 March 2006), the Advertising Standards Committee (the ASC) noted that "The relevant commercial featured male and female models in a way not different from the way such models are featured in magazines and other media”.

The Directorate notes that in the current matter, there is no overt nudity. While there is an implication that the man is fully naked, his genitalia are never shown. 

Similarly, while the Directorate accepts that the implications of the commercial are sexual, there is no overt sexual behaviour. For a child who has not been exposed to any sex education or knowledge, the commercial shows a man putting on deodorant and women inexplicably fainting. To understand the innuendo in the commercial, the viewer would have to have the appropriate sexual knowledge. 

In Mark Gillman Radio Show/ A Truter & Others/ 394 (22 March 2005), the Directorate stated that the respondent was correct in saying that at no point does one see genitalia or any sexual activity. It was only an adult who is familiar with the concept of bondage outfits who would surmise that the outfits have anything to do with sexual activities. Even if this conclusion was reached, there was nothing in the commercial to indicate that the characters have, will or were thinking of engaging in any sexual activity.
In Lux / South African Society For Sexual Education & Another / 4975 (25 May 2006) the Directorate ruled, "the women featured in the commercial are merely wearing underwear, and children are exposed to such images on a regular basis. In addition, the women do not strip in an evocative or sexual manner. While the commercial may possibly be perceived as ‘sexy’, it cannot be argued that it is overtly sexual or explicit, and children are not likely to be adversely affected”.

In light of the above, the commercial does not contain any statement or visual presentation which might result in harming children mentally, morally, physically or emotionally. 

Based on the above, the advertisement is not in contravention of Clause 14 of Section II of the Code.

The complaint is dismissed.

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