Ad Complaint – Please Lower Your Gaze!

// March 17th, 2008 // Blog

I was travelling on the London Underground, on my way to meet a friend, when I was suddenly faced with something that I really didn't want to see: a very large poster advertising an art exhibit. Admittedly, there is nothing offensive in the idea of informing the public about the latest canvases to hit the gallery – no, I was more disturbed by the decision to use a portrait of a fully naked woman whose, umm… okay, I'm a Biologist, I'll just come out with it – whose genitalia were clearly visible. People, this was not a Picasso, abstract, “Am I looking at this the right way up?” piece of 'art'. It was an extremely life-like, well drawn (unfortunately), coloured portrait of a naked woman! I really didn't know where to look! Well, apart from down, obviously.

I'm not normally one to complain about offensive ads, though often I think that I should. I guess that I found this particular image so off-putting that I was compelled to e-mail the institution involved, describing my complaint, and asking them to kindly replace the poster with a portrait that is more suited for public consumption. I also added that if they do not get back to me by Wednesday of next week, I will automatically forward my complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. I was actually going to contact the ASA straight away, but thought that perhaps it would be more reasonable to first contact the gallery, and then turn to the ASA if they failed to respond. I hope I'm not being too soft, God willing.

Now that I think about it, there are several ads on both TV and billboards that contain unnecessary levels of nudity, sex and other dodgy themes, even before the watershed. I performed a quick Google search looking for consumer groups that may work together to tackle such ad campaigns in an organized fashion, but haven't really come across anything. I can't help thinking that I am turning into some kind of Muslim, Mary Whitehouse figure, but really, I don't think Muslims are alone in being offended by these sorts of advertisements. In fact, it would be a good 'interfaith' project to set up, if there isn't already something like this in place. If anyone is aware of such an organization based in the UK, please let me know.

In the mean time, I suggest you immediately look down when entering the Westbound Central line platform at Bank underground station!

10 Responses to “Ad Complaint – Please Lower Your Gaze!”

  1. iMuslim says:

    P.S., if any other Londoners want to help me out – Muslim or otherwise – by also complaining to the gallery involved, please e-mail me and I’ll forward you the details you need. Jazakallah.

  2. Ahh! Recently in one of the States a woman got a Beyonce’ poster replaced with something else because she was offended with how revealing the portrait was (although she wasn’t completely naked).

    I think you did well and I would like to see the results of this inshAllah.

  3. Sumera says:

    Go iMuslim! :p

  4. mcpagal says:

    Nekkid people are used to advertise everything!

    A couple of years ago there was a TV ad for this headache balm, it had a naked woman pointing to various parts of her body and saying ‘it’s not for here! or here!’ and so on. She eventually worked out it was to be applied to her head, amazing really since the product was called 4 HEAD. This advert was offensive with both its nudity and its stupidity.

    And there was a toilet roll ad that showed loads of bums! I know TV is dumbing down and all, but I’m sure most of us can work out where to use toilet roll!

    I get quite het up about this – it makes my eyes feel dirty >:(

  5. dreamessence says:

    Nowadays, it is becoming more and more common, which is the sad part. Forget older people–I wouldn’t want little children being exposed to such strong visual images. I agree with you in that I don’t believe this sentiment is exclusive to only Muslims, but rather, people of other religions as well. Good job on contacting the institution! Most people would not have bothered.

  6. AnonyMouse says:

    I do hope that you’re able to do something about it…

  7. iMuslim says:

    It turns out the e-mail address I originally tried to contact was not valid, so I called the gallery on Monday, and got put through to Marketing dept. Guess what the surname of the Marketing rep was? Rahman!

    Anyway, no-one answered, so I left a message on the voicemail with my details; I later received an e-mail asking me to put my complaint in written form, so I replied with a copy of my original complaint, but I have had no word back since then. I did say that if I did not have a response by today, then I would send my complaint onto the ASA… so I guess I have to do that now! Oh well.

  8. salaam

    i complained about the posters for the tv programme the L word when they were up, the big massive bill board was right outside the kids school, but they said seeing as it was moderately appropriate (Yea right, the butts of two women in things holding ahem!), they didnt do anything!

    Keep us informed how it goes inshaAllah, I can help you if you want even though you’re in Bolton, my cuz lives there and my bro’s presently there on hols.


  9. iMuslim says:

    Wa ‘alaykum salam wa rahmatullah… umm… i’m in London – not Bolton, unless that was a typo? :)

    Those L word posters were terrible, though regrettably I did not complain at the time, like I should have done. I guess I am turning over a new leaf with this action, insha’Allah.

    I did not hear back from the gallery, so I have registered my complaint with the ASA. We’ll see what happens… I imagine they get a lot of complaints – the poster may have been taken down by the time they respond!

    RL: who did you complain to, and how long did it take for them to get back to you?

  10. teagirl says:

    I can’t believe they would do something like that. Artists are always playing down nudity, but if nudity really was ok people would be walking around nude all over the world… I got to skip my rediculous art 101 class twice because of nude modles which no one else got to do, so I’m happy :)

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