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UPDATE: Authorities mull fate of A&F ad

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) together with the the Building Construction Authority is mulling to remove Abercrombie & Fitch’s (A&F) sexy teaser ad at Knightsbridge.

ASAS confirmed the development to Marketing in a statement.

A&F’s teaser ad preceding its opening at Knightsbridge was suspended by ASAS for breaching local ad guidelines on decency.

The huge ad covering the entire window of its new store has sent the internet community into a debate on whether the ad is inappropriate, with SPH’s citizen journalism site Stomp questioning if the ad was vulgar, especially in an area heavy in tourist traffic.

The ad shows a man’s torso with his hands tugging at his low-slung jeans.

While ASAS is not legally empowered to enforce a decision, it can ask advertisers/ad agency to remove ads that infringe the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice. This it usually does through media owners who are members of its council.

However, the A&F ad was put up by the brand itself and the company is yet to respond to ASAS, according to a report in The Straits Times. ASAS is therefore looking for alternative means with the help from government agencies to remove the ad.

Here’s what some industry folks had to say about the ad:

“I was a little surprised when I first saw it. It was more risqué than would normally be attempted, even for an Orchard Road location. We must remember that outdoor advertising here rightly has historically been sensitive to the multi-cultural society that is Singapore; we are not a mono culture – so partial nudity in advertising is generally not acceptable. But what really surprised me was the speed of ASAS’ response. The ad’s suspension was many weeks after it was posted, so it had already achieved the desired effect. The job had been done….”

– Ashley J. Stewart, CEO, JCDecaux Singapore 

“Quite clearly, we are not ready for something this fierce. Yes I am talking about the six pack. Can you imagine waiting at the junction for green light and a big grown man like me caught salivating at the chiseled abs. It’s dangerous! So ASAS probably did a good thing in suspending the ab…I mean ad. But I’m puzzled about the timing of the decision since this ad has been much commented on all the way back from June by a couple of consumers (read Stompers). I guess while the decision to suspend(the ad) is debatable, the timing helps to bring back certain balance. And to ASAS, H&M says thank you.”

– Rayner Lim, creative partner, Contagious

“I don’t find it inappropriate in a sexual way. In fashion Calvin Klein has done way more risqué stuff, way long ago. It does however seem inappropriate for A&F as they were never that kind of brand, ie they are a good wholesome youth brand. This feels like a half hearted attempt to be “provocative”. Doesn’t fit. A&F would be better served having more of a commentary on youth than by getting into generic six-packed fashion wasteland.”

– Mohan Prabhakar, creative director, TBWASingapore

*Photo by ST

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