Forgetting the obvious, forward thinking is another facet which sets these fashion designers apart.

Following complaints of irresponsible and offensive and unsuitable advertising, both Prada and Jack Wills have become the subject of adjudications by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). However, only the complaints against Jack Wills were upheld. Given the controversial images contained in both designers’ material, you might find yourself questioning how Prada, unlike Jack Wills, came out on top?

For Jack Wills, the material complained of comprised a four page spread of young models frolicking on the beach in the “university outfitter’s” casual attire, or rather lack of it. ASA noted that each of the images contained “partial nudity” and that one image in particular “went beyond what could be described as fun or flirtatious”.

The complaints about Prada concerned an advertisement in the Times where the model was photographed sitting on a chair, holding a handbag on her lap, and wearing a low-cut, sleeveless dress which exposed her arms, shoulders and décolletage. The complainants considered that the model looked significantly underweight.

So what did Jack Wills and Prada have to say about all this?

Well, for Jack Wills, not much. Despite the brand’s protests that, in order to receive its “handbook” recipients must confirm that they are at least 18 years of age, ASA concluded that the catalogue posed a risk to younger teenagers and must not therefore appear in its present form again.

Prada, on the other hand, blamed the model’s seemingly unhealthy appearance on slicked back hair, nude make up, and bright red lipstick, all of which were intended to make the look “more dramatic”. In addition, Prada said that the lighting used for the photograph added to “highlight the model’s features and pale skin”.  If that wasn’t enough for a defence, they went on to provide further photographs showing the model from a side and back view, which Prada argued was evidence that the model was not significantly under weight. ASA agreed and subsequently concluded that the ad was not irresponsible.

It follows, if you want to avoid complaints about your advertisements, you would be well advised to consider and formulate a sound response to every eventuality. Otherwise you may have to write off a considerable portion of your marketing costs as wasted expenditure. Although some might associate a bit of media outrage with free PR, coming under the watchful eye of ASA can be a high price to pay.

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