Naked Sophie scores even more free PR.

Note 2004-01-15 Paypal, the eBay owned internet-bank thing has frozen our assets and shut down the Commercial Archive's only donation option right before the superbowl (ouch) due to the nudity in this image. Read more here

The now infamous Sophie Dahl Opium ad has become the most offensive ad of 2000. It'll go down in history kids! Or at the very least, become a trivial pursuit question. Aren't we proud?

Opium: a whopping 948 complaints - but the ad was never banned.

The controversial poster for Yves St Laurent perfume featuring a naked Sophie Dahl accounted for a third of all complaints about poster advertising last year.

The second most complained about advert was for gas supplier Npower, which featured a ginger-haired family accompanied by the words: "There are some things in life you can't choose".

The ASA received 219 complaints from people who believed the advert was offensive to redheads, but the authority ruled they were not justified because it was intended to be lighthearted.

Other controversial campaigns included a poster of a woman's naked bottom for Marks & Spencer, and one for Benetton featuring a prisoner on death row.

Objections to two posters for underwear firm Gossard were upheld for being sexually explicit, and they were ordered to be removed.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Dabitch's picture

Note to the new crowd who have just noticed this old article here. [oh it's fun being farked, hi new people *waves*]... This ad ran not only in magazines (in vougue i doubt anyone would react) but also on busposters and 48 sheet posters. i.e: Outdoor billboards. At bus stops. One of these bus stops might be at a school. Moral of the story? By all means do sexy ads, just keep them in Italian/British Vogue and off the streets so the moral police can't get so offended. But then you'll loose the free PR! ;-)

anonymous's picture

I see nothing wrong with that ad being outdoors, at a school or anywhere else. In Europe such things are common; in India far more explicit designs are carved in the friezes of stone temples. What I see something wrong with is the repressed Puritan society that gets so fired up about something like this (or where people feel the need to use shovels to vandalise a jokey snow phallus, etc).

Better this tasteful depiction than the kind of pseudopatriotic warmongering vitriol that's appearing on "acceptable" ads nowadays.

Dabitch's picture

i'm in europe - and while you might see a semi-nude girl showing off her shower soap on a poster - that is quite different from this ad (if only in amount of nudity).

Nudity is not as common on european posters as americans belive - nudity is kept inside magazines - not on the streets - had this ad* only run in fashion mags i doubt it would have been the most complained about ad in 2000. It was quite different on a big poster.

Most of the complaints were opposed to her pose - not her nudity. Some magazine jokingly asked if she was having it on with the invisable man.

[* saw this ad in Paris, London, Stockholm and Amsterdam that year - in Paris they had 48 sheet posters].

Dabitch's picture

aaah, see todays guardian about the close shave for gucci - regarding the new ad:"But it failed to outrage the British public, attracting a relatively subdued 16 complaints to the advertising standards authority claiming was "offensive and sexually suggestive".

By contrast, Yves Saint Laurent's notorious Opium advert featuring a naked Sophie Dahl provoked 730 complaints to the ASA. This was mainly because it appeared on poster sites, where it could be seen by children." see? It ain't the nudity nor nipples that bothers the europeans [although be aware that the UK is more conservative than the rest of europe regarding skin..] - it's the whole "on posters near schools" thing that bother us. It's one thing being open and natural around children it's quite another to expose them to sexually provocative images at a young age [and this image is - but in a nice tasteful sexy manner that does well in magazines for adults].

ps - the snow phallus at Harvard wasn't a work of art - if someone didn't like it they could - and did - remove it.

AnonymousCoward's picture

I think generally, people are too close-minded about fashion art and literature. Ads that display full nudity should not be condemned, unless acts of indecency is displayed. The ad above shows nothing of that sort.

If so, then all the art depictions and statues of the world that display nudity should be condemned.

The ad is tasteful, artistic, and simply beautiful.

Neaner's picture

I wonder...had her hand not been on her own nipple but between her legs would it have breached the "indecency level" then? ;-)
I totally agree with you - fashion art and literature plays on another level and people need to open their minds to it.

I understand what dab's saying - this was protested cause it was outside of schools. I can see that. (well, in the UK anyway don't know about France)

Personally I wish i could get my hands on one of those 48 sheet posters and wallpaper my room with it. The shot is GORGEOUS! Really beautiful lovely lovely lovely - her hair is like roses, her skin almost glows.. this is a pretty good picture but it doesn't do it justice at all. I tried stealing some busposters when it ran .....

When it did run, the press concentrated on the fact that it was Sophie Dahl - the "bigger model".
I don't see a big model anywhere - I see a gorgeous babe. All models should have at least her curves.. (well, not these days, she lost too much weight - Sophie dear - EAT SOMETHING!)

Dabitch's picture

I'm sorry kagemusha - but I think you are off your trolley.... Please note
it's not the nudity or artsy arse thats getting to people - it's the fact
that this poster was hung outside of schools and churches - as
everyone above has pointed out, in the magazines it was not complained
about - outdoors it was.
Maybe it's one of those "I guess you had to be there" things, only when you've seen Sophie have it on with the invisible man on a 48-sheet poster will you understand.. Thats not art, it's not fashion either - it's sex trying to sell. Advertising is not art and can not follow the art rules no matter how much it wants to. Putting this poster in public was going too far.

James Trickery's picture

advertising is neither fashion, art nor literature.

AnonymousCoward's picture

In a time when sex is more offensive to some than murder, I find this ad the purest form of beauty. This is woman in her finest form, and the art exudes the spirit of Opium. Let the sun-tanned old bags peddle their craggy skin at the retirement home - this is the age of the Red Head.

Sport's picture

I just saw this in a recently viewed listing, and I recall Paypal shutting you down for displaying it. Pathetic.

Vicki (serendipity_xo)'s picture

I'm sorry, but when exactly has the naked form ever been something to be offended by? I would much rather my child walked out of school and saw this picture, then the lastest teen pop-star parading around in next-to-nothing selling yet more rubbish! This picture is stunning, no matter what size you look at it in! She's simply beautiful and it's a tasteful picture. Yes, it does hint at a sexual nature, but Ssurely that says more about the people who see this and see something 'dirty' and 'inappropriate' then those who put the picture on display

Whether you believe this is art or not, it's simply a picture at the end of the day. Now there are some pictures that are meant to be distressing, but this is not one of them. There are some things in this world that are only offensive if you allow them to offend you. (And I'm pretty sure that the church attendees who complained are aware of what exactly the female form looks like prior to seeing this poster - surely it can't be that much of a shock?)

We tell our children they should be proud of their bodies, then publicly thrash people who are. Who's more in the wrong i wonder?