Skincare Ad Banned Because Nude Models Didn’t Smile

by Solange Castellar

The Parisian skincare line, Ella Baché, is receiving some Australian backlash for their latest advertisement. The advertisement that’s getting lots of buzz is of a few female nude models that have serious expressions on their faces. The picture is accompanied with the phrase, “Skin Solutions As Individual As You Are”. Apparently, the Australian advertising self-regulator agency, Outdoor Media Association, thought that the lack of smiles from the models gave off “sexual overtones”.

The ad was to be featured on a 6x3m billboard in all major cities. However, since the lack of smiles was such a big deal to OMA, they decided to pick another Ella Baché photo – one with the models smiling. OMA said that the smiling photo is acceptable because “it is less sexualized and is relevant to the product”. Here’s the other photo:

As The Telegraph reports, chief executive of body industry for OMA, Charmaine Moldrich, said, “We felt the second image where the women were looking down the camera could be interpreted as being sexualized and saying look at me and my nudity.’” She also went on to say, “If women are looking empowered and comfortable in their skin – that’s ok. If they’re naked and sexualized –that then puts (the ad in a position where it might breach the code).”

The weird thing is that Ella Baché developed and shot this campaign in Australia.  Also worth noting, Ella Baché is the largest salon network in Australia. The company has advertised in Australia for the last 20 years and practically all of their campaigns feature nude female and male models. 

Campaign Brief cited that Ella Baché’s creative director, Faie Davis, said, “In the past we have produced ads approved with nude men and women hugging and kissing, yet now we have an industry self-regulator now making judgments on the different sexual mores of a smile or serious expression of models.”

Let’s take a look, shall we?


Here’s an Ella Baché ad featuring a group of guys laughing, while it says, “Protect your largest organ.” That phrase isn’t as sexual as smiling, right?

This Ella Baché sculpture of the naked female form is completely made up of peaches, going along with the company phrase, “Skin good enough to eat.” It was displayed in Sydney, Australia’s First Fleet Park in 2008. OMA please answer me this: because the sculpture has a smile, it’s not completely sexual?

The smiles are clearly the only difference. If Ella Baché’s shtick is to have their models nude, to fully represent that they’re advertising skincare, then they should be allowed to do whatever they creatively want. At the same time, I can see the argument that OMA presents: they don’t want the female body to be sexualized because almost every ad in that industry does so. 

Who knows what the future holds for Ella Baché and OMA. But right now, it’s the smile that counts. 

Thanks to Adland.Tv, Campaign Brief, and The Telegraph

Images via Adland.Tv and Campaign Brief

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