The make-up brand had initially been pulled up after complaints that billboard and poster adverts for the range were offensive, overtly sexual, and unsuitable to be seen by children.
The billboard ad in question, shown at a shopping mall complex, featured Miley Cyrus, who herself is no stranger to controversy of this nature, wearing a low cut bodysuit lying on her back with her legs apart against a mirrored wall looking into the camera.
Both posters were shown in the London Underground and were almost identical but partially showed a reflection of the Wrecking Ball singer’s crotch in a mirror.
Not offensive, maybe distasteful for some
In response, MAC says that the campaign is run in connection with raising money for their ‘MAC AIDS Fund’ programme, which, as part of this, sees the brand work with ‘iconic stars’ like Miley Cyrus, who are provocative, different and influential.
The cosmetics maker says the ads show the popstar in a confident pose, possibly defiant, did not draw attention to her certain parts of her body, and “were not overtly sexual since they featured no nudity or any hint of sexual activity including in her facial expression.”
MAC states that while the images might be distasteful to some, it does not believe they cause serious offence, and are not unsuitable for display in public areas because they could not be classified as being sexually suggestive for the same reasons that they were not overtly sexual.
MAC stated that the reflected images of Miley Cyrus’ crotch in the mirrors were no more than what one would ordinarily see when walking along a beach with women sunbathing or by a pool, and were blended into the background with other images anyway.
Not overtly sexual… but sexually suggestive
The Advertising Standards Authority agrees that some may find the images distasteful, but that they were not overtly sexual and unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, so no action needs to be taken.
The UK watchdog did state however that the ads were sexually suggestive due to Cyrus’ pose and the mirror reflection emphasis on her crotch, meaning they were inappropriate for general outdoor display and warranted a placement restriction of not appearing within 100 metres of schools.
However, as this was not relevant given the ads’ locations, this complaint was also dismissed.