The ad promoted the retailer’s swimwear line and included models in bikinis not so dissimilar to those worn by contestants in the villa.
But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a complaint that the ad “overly sexualised and objectified women”, so decided to investigate.
While the ASA acknowledged that swimwear was to be expected in a summer advert, it concluded that the way the bikinis were presented “invited viewers to view the women as sexual objects”.
The ad “showed models on a beach with their legs apart in seductive poses, a woman running her hand up her inner thigh, a group of women in thong bikinis and another woman posing in a bikini with her legs astride on a motorcycle”, the ASA said.
The advert, which prompted a complaint from a viewer who was catching up on Love Island on the ITV Hub, included the on-screen text: “If you plan on wearing clothes this summer … we’ve got you covered … kind of”.
In response to the complaint, Missguided said it had tried to promote a “particular lifestyle rather than just clothing”, adding that the ad focused not only on the clothes the models wore but their faces, with a number of the camera angles shot from below to show “empowering, confident young women”.
Missguided said the display of skin was “relevant, necessary and unavoidable” given that the ad was promoting the summer wear collection and argued that the advert had a “contextual relevance with the Love Island programme” – which was not a programme aimed at an audience below the age of 16.
The ASA, however, disagreed with Missguided’s reasoning – particularly in relation to the ad being relevant to Love Island.
“We acknowledged that there were similarities between the content of the ad and the programme, which was a reality dating show in which male and female contestants were featured often wearing swimwear or other revealing clothing and sometimes engaging in degrees of sexual behaviour,” the ASA said.
“However, we considered that some viewers who enjoyed the programme would nevertheless be seriously offended by advertising that presented women as sexual objects. Because the ad objectified women, we concluded that it was irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence.”
Missguided has been banned from using the ad again, and the ASA has told the brand not to use advertising that “objectifies women” in future.