Exploitative or degrading

This information provides a general overview of Ad Standards Community Panel determinations on complaints about advertising which employs sexual appeal in a manner which is exploitative or degrading of any individual or group of individuals.

It is designed to assist the advertising industry, the self-regulatory body, consumers and others interested in ensuring that advertising:

  • does not breach the AANA Code of Ethics or community standards in relation to the use of sexual appeal in an exploitative or degrading manner, and
  • is positive, responsible, suitable for general viewing and contributes to the elimination of the use of sexual appeal in an exploitative or degrading manner.

It is not a “how to” guide, nor does it cover all situations which require care in understanding elements of sexual appeal in an exploitative or degrading manner.

Relevant section of the AANA Code of Ethics

2.2 Advertising or Marketing Communications shall not employ sexual appeal:

(a) where images of Minors, or people who appear to be Minors, are used; or
(b) in a manner which is exploitative or degrading of any individual or group of people.

Definitions

Sexual appeal: This term is undefined. The Community Panel considers sexually appealing material would include images such with a suggestion of sex, some nudity, a sexual pose or tight clothing.

Exploitative: Meaning (a) taking advantage of the sexual appeal of a person, or group of people, by depicting them as commodities; or (b) focussing on their body parts where this bears no relevance to the product or service being advertised.

Degrading: Lowering in character or quality a person or group of persons.

Level of community concern

Community concern about the use of sexual appeal in a manner which is exploitative or degrading in advertising has been reflected in complaints to Ad Standards.

In 2018 exploitative or degrading accounted for 5.87 per cent of complaints to Ad Standards.

Ad Standards commissioned research into this issue and published a comprehensive research report on the matter in 2013.

Further information

For more information see the AANA Code of Ethics: Practice Note.