1. A Lush cosmetics campaign designed to promote positive body image and packaging-free cosmetics has been deemed “offensive” and “pornographic in nature.”
The campaign was rolled out around Australia, with a complaint coming from a Queensland mall that it was “placed at a child’s eye level.”
The Advertising Standards Bureau upheld the complaint after deliberating its affect on the community.
2. In total there were four official complaints to the ASB, with a sample provided labelling the advertisement as “nudity for the sake of causing a stir.”
“It is pornographic in nature and breaches community and parental standards of
what should be involuntarily viewed in public by children and adults,” the complaint said.
“It was placed at a child’s eye level in a shopping centre. It shows naked women touching other naked women and it is shown in a public place.
“I am offended as this is nudity for the sake of causing a stir and is offensive and unnecessary. I was unable to shield my children from exposure to this advert as it was on a poster in the centre aisle of the shopping centre. When I contacted Lush they said that the women in the photo consented so it was OK – I’m sorry but I never consented for myself or my children to be exposed to nudity on our weekly shopping trip! The nudity is completely inappropriate for the family environment of the shopping centre.”
3. When considering the case, the ASB brought up two other advertisements that had resulted in similar complaints.
Tom Ford’s Black Orchid perfume campaign with Cara Delevingne and PZ Cussons’ Natural Source body wash advertisement were both discussed by the ASB.
They had previously dismissed the case for PZ Cussons, noting that considering the accompanying text with the advertisement, “the combination of the tea tree plants and the man in his natural state are relevant to this text.”
However the Tom Ford advertisement complaint was upheld for its placement within a department store and the possibility that the display would be “in full visibility of children,” similar to the Lush cosmetics case.
5. Lush responded to the complaints in a statement to BuzzFeed News, saying the campaign was meant to highlight the excessive packaging used for products in the industry, as well as promote body positivity.
“The image in the window is a body-positive reference to this fact, and is not in any way intended to cause any offence or upset,” they said. “The women in the images are members of the Lush team, who felt strongly about this issue and volunteered to be part of our campaign to highlight this important issue.”
“The photos are shot not to titillate, but with the utmost respect for these wonderful human beings and their commitment to this cause. The image is completely untouched, as we feel that we should not be ashamed of our bodies in their natural state, and that every single one of us is beautiful in our diversity, regardless of colour, shape, size, or life choices. The ASB has notified Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics of three complaints received from members of the general public who saw our advertisements.”
6. Model for the campaign and Lush employee Courtney Fry (pictured centre) told BuzzFeed News she had anticipated some negative comments, but most of the feedback was “absolutely positive.”
“There are always going to be people that don’t agree with us, and that’s OK,” she said. “Everyone is allowed to have their own thoughts and feelings, and the only thing we can hope to do is give them some information and education and something that might challenge their thinking.”
Fry referenced her own adolescence, growing up with unrealistic beauty standards and the affect that had on her.
“I’ve had issues with my body for the majority of my life and having the confidence to do something this far out of my comfort zone was a huge step for me. I’ve become much more accepting of my figure for all its fantastic features and flaws, and I think that’s a truly liberating thing.”
“The absolute best reaction was an older woman who was giggling with her friend at the window display, and then smacked me on the bum and told me I was doing a ‘bloody good job, love’.”
7. After ongoing negotiations, Lush chose to remove the campaign images from the Queensland store five days early. They told BuzzFeed News they actually received complaints that the image had been removed.
“We have also had requests from customers wanting to continue the campaign in store and pose for the photo themselves as they felt it helped their children grow up feeling that their bodies are natural and normal, not something to be ashamed of and have our insecurities exploited for the sale of cosmetics.”
8. Lush’s Australasia director, Peta Granger, said the decision from the ASB would not affect the way they advertise in the future.
“We want our messages to empower people, not make them feel awful about themselves over a body that is probably not ever real due to how much it’s been digitally ‘enhanced’.”