By Natalie Clark
Marc Jacobs has enough media savvy to know how to grab the public’s attention.
Since he first exploded onto the runway with his controversial grunge collection for Perry Ellis, he has not been one to follow the crowd. His ad campaigns have long been courting controversy.
From stashing Posh Spice in a carrier bag, to whipping out his oiled up bod for the ‘Bang’ fragrance campaign, Jacobs definitely presses all the right buttons to cause a stir.
Yet this month, he has found himself up a certain creek, having left his paddle in Vicky B’s carrier bag.
The ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) have pulled the advertisement for his new fragrance ‘Oh Lola!’ for being, ‘sexually provocative.’
The ad shows a wide-eyed looking Dakota Fanning (Hollywood’s former go-to child actress) sat on the floor, wearing a demure polka dot dress that perhaps shows a tad too much thigh, with a large bottle of the perfume placed between her legs.
There is nothing overtly sexual in the ad. She’s fully clothed with legs closed. Yet it is in her innocence that the offense lies; according to the regulatory body the “length of her dress, her leg and the position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality. Because of that, along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child.”
Though yes, the ad does scream Lolita rather than Lola (which was surely the slant that Jacobs was trying to achieve), have the ASA gone slightly too far?
I say this because, it seems a bit excessive to pull an entire ad campaign after only four complaints. That’s right, an astronomical four. What’s more, ASA banned the Yves Saint Laurent ad for its fragrance Belle D’Opium after incurring a paltry 13 objections. This was due to the expressive contemporary dance performed by actress Melanie Thierry, who supposedly appears to be simulating drug use.
Prada’s most recent campaign for little sister brand Miu Miu, starring Oscar Nominated actress Hailee Steinfeld, contracted only one complaint before falling victim to the wrath of the crippling ASA.
The actress had been photographed sitting alone on an abandoned railway track, looking contemplative and apparently sad. However, after an investigation, the ASA decided to ban the ad on the grounds of it being an unsafe environment for the then fourteen year-old Steinfeld, implying notions of youth suicide.
However, Prada Retail UK responds, she is, “not restrained in anyway,” and the campaign was quite clearly “part of a serious, high-fashion campaign” aimed at adult women.
It is a tricky one. Though Fanning will be eighteen in February next year, there is no denying that in the glossy image, she does look like she has just hit puberty. Yet is there no artistic license in advertisement anymore?
Jacobs described the little sister fragrance to the hugely popular ‘Lola’ as “sensual”, Fanning being “seductive yet sweet,” – a perfect muse to portray his new scent. Furthermore, Coty, makers of ‘Oh Lola!’ said the giant perfume bottle was, “provoking, but not indecent.” Surely there should be some allowance, as after all, we all know Dakota has grown up since her ‘Dr Seuss’ days?
I just think that it is a bit ridiculous that Jacob’s creativity and vision has been quashed due to a small minority reading into things a bit much. Advertisement is an art form; a platform for subjectivity. The whole ad is legit, Fanning would not have excitedly accepted the project if she knew she would be portrayed as preteen tease.
In my opinion, I think the bottle is resting on her lap. No suggestion. She’s just holding it.