Demi Lovato

British Advertising Watchdog Says Demi Lovato Went Too Far

In what may prove to be an influential decision in the United Kingdom, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), an advertising watchdog in the UK, has deemed advertising for the recently released album Holy Fvck by chart-topping singer Demi Lovato violates advertising regulations. The ASA claims the ad was likely to result in serious and widespread offense and was targeted irresponsibly.

The advertisement which brought on the criticism was based on imagery made for the album cover itself and included Lovato tied up from head to toe in black leather straps, lying on a cross-shaped bed and captioned by the album title. 

Public complaints were submitted to the ASA, bringing up two issues: the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offense and the ad was irresponsibly placed where children could see it. While Polydor Records checked with the agency before posting the ads, the content ran afoul of audiences and the ASA validated the complaints based on their review, saying “Because we considered the ad was likely to be seen as referring to a swear word that many would find offensive and had appeared in an untargeted medium and public place where children were also likely to see it, we considered that the ad was likely to result in serious and widespread offense and had been targeted irresponsibly.

“We then assessed whether the ad was likely to also cause offense on religious grounds. We considered that it was clear the ad was for an album, that the image was being presented as artwork in that context and that ‘HOLY FVCK’ was the name of the album. We also considered that many who saw the ad would recognize the woman in it to be the album’s artist, Demi Lovato.

“However, we considered that the image of Ms Lovato bound up in a bondage-style outfit whilst lying on a mattress shaped like a crucifix, in a position with her legs bound to one side which was reminiscent of Christ on the cross, together with the reference to ‘holy fvck’, which in that context was likely to be viewed as linking sexuality to the sacred symbol of the crucifix and the crucifixion, was likely to cause serious offense to Christians.”

The advertisements had already been removed by the time the ASA had come to this conclusion. The ASA states that future use of these ads is prohibited. Time will tell if this decision will prevent similar cases of offensive advertising from ever being issued.