A poster promoting US singer Demi Lovato’s new album in the UK was likely to cause serious offence for linking sexuality to the crucifix and crucifixion, the advertising regulator has ruled.
The poster, seen in multiple sites across London in August, featured an image of the album cover showing Lovato bound in a bondage-style outfit while lying on a large, cushioned crucifix.
The headline stated ‘DEMI LOVATO’ and ‘HOLY FVCK’ – the name of the album.
The poster attracted four complaints that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and was irresponsibly placed where children could see it.
Defending the poster, Polydor Records, a division of Universal Music, said it did not believe the poster would cause serious or widespread offence.
The label told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that it had checked that the poster was acceptable to run at the proposed sites prior to release, and had been assured that it was.
Polydor said the posters only appeared at six specific sites in London for a four-day period and were removed on August 23.
The ASA said it would have been clear to most of those who saw the poster that the ad alluded to the expression “holy f***”, and considered that it was likely to result in serious and widespread offence and had been targeted irresponsibly.
It found that the image of Lovato “bound up in a bondage-style outfit whilst lying on a mattress shaped like a crucifix, in a position with her legs bound to one side which was reminiscent of Christ on the cross, together with the reference to ‘Holy Fvck’, which in that context was likely to be viewed as linking sexuality to the sacred symbol of the crucifix and the crucifixion, was likely to cause serious offence to Christians”.
It added: “We therefore concluded the ad breached the Code.”
The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again in the form complained of unless it was suitably targeted, adding: “We told Universal Music Operations to ensure their ads did not cause serious or widespread offence in future.”