American Apparel’s School Days Advert Has Been Officially Deemed ‘Gratuitous, Offensive And Irresponsible’

The Advertising Standards Authority have concluded their investigation into American Apparel's school days campaign


by Pandora Sykes |
Published on

Last month American Apparel released their new ‘School Days’ campaign and while some of the imagery was inoffensive – three chicks hanging out in the bleachers, wearing turtlenecks, jeans, high socks – one image in particular, of a model bending over in a schoolgirlish tartan skirt to reveal the under-side of her buttocks and a hint of her crotch, courted immediate controversy.

After a slew of disgusted comments from their followers – think, ‘I can’t look at your Instagram in public because I feel like I’m looking at indecent images’ and ‘Disgusting, not really showing off the skirt much is it’ – American Apparel pulled the ass shot from both their social media and site channels.

READ MORE: Louche And Lewd American Apparel Founder Dov Charney Has Been Sacked

Despite such immediate eradication, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who must be more than au fait with American Apparel’s hyper-sexualised Lolita vibes by now, still investigated the case and the ruling was made public this morning.

‘We considered the images were gratuitous and objectified women, and were therefore sexist and likely to cause serious and widespread offence. Furthermore, we considered the images imitated voyeuristic “up-skirt” shots which had been taken without the subject’s consent or knowledge which, in the context of an ad for a skirt marketed to young women, we considered had the potential to normalise a predatory sexual behaviour,’ they wrote in the damning report.

Well said, ASA. If you’re interested, American Apparel’s argument was that the model was actually a 30-year-old woman (rather than a 15-year-old girl, say) and that ‘they believed they were well-known for their provocative images and ads, and their fans and customers were therefore well aware of those images before they chose to actively follow American Apparel’s social media accounts... American Apparel believed the ads had not been published to the general public but rather to consumers who had ‘opted in’ to see images consistent with their branding.’

They also tried the old chestnut about a young employee posting the pictures without due diligence, but frankly that’s been a tried, tested and failed defence since BC.

Frankly, why as a company you’d spend masses of money on a nationwide campaign that you intend not to publish to the general public (which is no doubt poppycock) is beyond us. We can concede that about 1 per cent of what they say is true. And that is, that consumers are aware of American Apparel’s brand aesthetic before they actively choose to follow them on social media.

But while that asesthetic – controversial, saucy, schoolgirl – has served American Apparel well for years, the recent backlash against their campaigns implies that maybe it’s losing its appeal. They still give us good clothes (which arguably they do, infinitely better than they do campaigns) so give us fresh and unique imagery, goddamit!

‘We told American Apparel (UK) Ltd to ensure their future advertising was prepared with a sense of repsonsibility to consumers and to society, and that it contained nothing that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence,’ ends the ASA ruling. We await, with baited – rather than* jailbaited* – breath.

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Follow Pandora on Twitter @pinsykes

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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