Is it offensive? Dakota Fanning’s advert for Marc Jacobs ‘Oh, Lola’ fragrance

An advert featuring Dakota Fanning for Marc Jacobs Oh Lola fragrance has been banned in the UK

Yes, readers, it’s another one of those “Are you offended?” moments. So let’s cut right to the chase, shall we?

Are you offended by this advert for Marc Jacobs’ ‘Oh, Lola!’ fragrance, featuring Dakota Fanning? Because some people are. Four, to be exact. And because of that, the advert has now been banned in the UK. Given that it was first revealed back in June, we’re going to bet Marc Jacobs is absolutely delighted by this turn of events, because let’s face it: if you want an advert to get widespread coverage, the quickest way to do that is to get it banned. There is no better way to ensure that lots of people get to see your advert than by taking steps to try to make sure that no one gets to see it. It’s a funny old world, eh?

Here’s a quick cheat sheet to bring you up to speed with some of the facts of this:

  • Dakota Fanning is 17
  • Marc Jacobs has said that Oh, Lola! was inspired by the Vladimir Nabokov novel ‘Lolita’, and that he chose Dakota for the advert because he felt she could be “a young Lolita”.
  • The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) received four complaints about the advert.
  • In their ruling, they said that although Dakota is 17, she looks younger, and that this, combined with the provocative positioning of the perfume bottle, makes the advert unacceptable.

The ASA’s statement:
“We noted that the model was holding up the perfume bottle which rested in her lap between her legs and we considered that its position was sexually provocative. We understood the model was 17 years old but we considered she looked under the age of 16. We considered that the length of her dress, her leg and position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality. Because of that, along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.”

What do you think? Is it offensive? Should it have been banned? Tell us!

28 Comments

  • November 9, 2011

    mrl

    they should also bun bicycles . . horses… the colour pink (obviously makes you look younger). or even better cover all teenagers from head to toe. this girl is wearing a long pink dress and no make up and they think SHE is the problem? not their dirty minds?

    View Comment
    • November 9, 2011

      mrl

      wrong spelling … sorry , ban

      View Comment
      • November 9, 2011

        XL5Venus

        Yes mrl, it IS the dirty minds and expectations of the viewers that is the problem. The disturbing exploitive meaning of the ongoing fascination with the underage Lolita look is (vehemently) discussed at http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2011/08/10/spinster-aunt-casts-jaundiced-eye-at-scepter-of-passion/

        ‘Lolita’ may have been written with a level of irony, showing the deluded point of view of the child molester who doesn’t believe he is doing anything wrong, but the irony is wasted on mainstream pedophiles, who have taken it at face value as validation of their projection of incipient sexuality of young girls.

        View Comment
  • November 9, 2011

    Heidi

    In the US, it probably wouldn’t pass the three-part test for obscenity so would probably not be censored by the courts, but it certainly is tasteless and I am offended. To whom is this meant to appeal? Dirty old men who need to get a Christmas present for their young thing on the side?

    View Comment
  • November 9, 2011

    Emily

    The picture doesn’t bother me, the fact that Jacobs said he was inspired by Lolita and chose the model because she basically looked like an underage nymphomaniac – that’s a little peculiar, to say the least. It also bothers me in general that the fashion industry are so obsessed with using incredibly young models.

    View Comment
  • November 9, 2011

    Gen

    While I do think it is tasteless and a little disturbing, I wouldn’t ban it. Yes, she does look all of 14 here, and the bottle is placed in a very provocative way, but don’t ban the ad, it’s just going to get more publicity that way.

    View Comment
  • November 9, 2011

    Julie

    When I first saw the ad, it did put a bad taste in my mouth. Why keep sexualizing minors??

    View Comment
  • November 10, 2011

    Kathryn

    It doesn’t really bother me, I guess because there isn’t loads of skin showing.

    View Comment
  • November 10, 2011

    Marianne S.

    I don’t see the picture. Has it been blocked by American servers or possibly pulled by the sponsoring agency, one wonders?

    View Comment
    • November 10, 2011

      The Fashion Police

      No one else is reporting any problems viewing it – maybe try refreshing the screen and try again?

      View Comment
  • November 10, 2011

    Lulu

    The photo is clearly meant to eroticize a (presupposed) minor.
    It doesn’t take a “dirty mind” to see this. All it takes is functional eyesight and one or two brain cells.

    I myself find the sexualization of young girls very sad, but that’s just the way it is.

    View Comment
    • November 11, 2011

      Tali

      You just denied me of 2 brain cells.

      It’s offensive.

      View Comment
  • November 10, 2011

    Drew

    It does resemble a penile object being held between her legs. Since she’s holding the bottle, it appears that she is consenting to the invasion of her personal “coo ca” space. That’s my point of view from a father of a 6 year old girl.

    It’s offensive. 🙁

    View Comment
  • November 10, 2011

    Jeannine

    I first saw this ad in an American magazine, and my first thought was, “Oh, good, a Marc Jacobs ad where the model isn’t forced to wear stupid and ugly things on her head,” and didn’t even think about it any more after that. It’s not erotic. It’s a young girl in a rather conservative dress holding a huge bottle of perfume.

    If you were going to ban something, how about the Chanel Chance Eau Tendre ad where the model is NUDE and clinging longingly to a human-sized perfume bottle…
    Link –> http://www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Chanel/Chance-Eau-Tendre-8069.html

    View Comment
  • November 10, 2011

    Clawdeer

    Looking at the photo I didn’t see how it could be (considered by some) to be offensive. Conclusion: The devil’s playground: A dirty mind + too much free time!

    View Comment
  • November 10, 2011

    Jesse

    I have absolutely no idea what is wrong with the ad. There is a 17 year old girl, dressed very conservatively for her age, with discreet make up on, holding a bottle of perfume in her lap- its not between her legs, she’s not making a lewd face its just resting in her lap. I am confused, as a young woman should I never hold anything in my lap? When i put my water bottle between my knees to grab something out of my bag am I being provocative and sexualising myself? If so then I think I need more hands on the train to college this morning. This is one of the least sexual fashion ads I have seen, nothing more than a pretty girl with a perfume bottle…

    View Comment
    • November 10, 2011

      seastone

      No, it is between her legs, not in her lap, and it is named Oh, Lola! and it is named after the novel, and of course it is intended to be provocative. And the dress palys a contrast as it is innocent.
      So despite trying to be provocative, is it insulting? Absolutely to some people, you can’t have the one without the other. But it is subtle enough imo to not be banned. I mean, you have to read too much into it to find it offensive.

      View Comment
  • November 10, 2011

    Daisy

    I really don’t see the problem with this photo, or how it can be provocative or insulting. And to be honest, I’m really surprised that people are really reacting to this campaign, because I expected people to find the ban a bit ridiculous, just like myself. She’s a 17-year old with a good reputation (Hollywood still has elegant, responsible starlets!) in a demure dress with barely any makeup on, holding a perfume bottle. If anyone interprets this picture as Fanning wanting to have sex with that bottle, I just have to blame it on their own dirty minds.

    View Comment
  • November 10, 2011

    josh

    have you read Lolita? the fact that MJ chose DF based on her being a young lolita is in itself kind of offensive. i guess i’m saying that i support the decision. if she would have been just a few months older and 18, then i’d say who cares.

    View Comment
    • November 10, 2011

      Daisy

      I thought we were focusing on the photo, not on a piece of literature from 1955?

      View Comment
      • November 10, 2011

        Roisin

        It’s difficult to consider them seperately when Marc Jacobs has explicitly said he based the styling on that novel.

        Taken out of context I don’t really have any issue with the photograph. However, I think it’s creepy in the extreme that Jacobs thinks that being a ‘young Lolita’ (which is stupid, anyway, because Lolita WAS young, she was 14. Or is that too much reference to the 1955 novel?) is in any way desirable or appropriate or good. Plus, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of a very complex novel and character, so now I think Marc Jacobs is an idiot.

        So, in short, I find Marc Jacobs’ creepiness and stupidity offensive. I don’t really care about the photo.

        View Comment
        • October 22, 2013

          Claudia

          There is also a hint at another novel in the picture, “The Story Of O”. The heroine – or rather, the main victim – in that novel is tutored to never pull her skirt under her bottom when she sits, allegedly not to wrinkle it, but really to make her body as accessible as possible at all times. Exactly in that strange way DF bunches her dress around her in the picture. I think the name of the perfume relates to two profoundly mysogynic erotic novels. It certainly is a problem of dirty minds, but not necessarily the public’s.

          View Comment
  • November 10, 2011

    Anna

    I don’t think the photo itself is offensive, but it is a little creepy that DF was chosen because she be a young Lolita.

    View Comment
  • November 11, 2011

    Bee

    No sexualising of youth and children should be permitted, in my opinion. As a person who first hand witnessed what some creeps can do, I strongly agree with banning anything that can trigger such thoughts and behaviour.

    View Comment
  • November 11, 2011

    Tali

    I had to read the article twice to realize what was the problem.
    Now I’m wondering whether my mind is not dirty enough or I’m just used to see this type of pictures everywhere and just don’t pay attention anymore.. (meaning the photos of little girls dressed up as adults. Or lately released fashion photos of Kate Moss’s 13 year old sister)

    View Comment
  • November 13, 2011

    Amy

    honestly i saw the advert months ago and it didn’t bother me at all, i saw a cute girl in a nice dress. But what Marc Jacobs said about Lolita didn’t really please , that is sexualizing children, there’s nothing glamorous in that.

    View Comment
  • November 13, 2011

    link

    I think I must be the only person who initially thought Fanning looked OLDER and not younger… but I find the photo tasteless. The placement of a blooming perfume bottle above the crouch is inappropriate… I think everything else (the styling) is fine, but the placement of that bottle just makes things creepy. Also, using Lolita the novel as inspiration is completely gross. The novel is a great piece of literature, but taking inspiration from it in THIS way is really inappropriate.

    View Comment
  • August 27, 2013

    anon

    I’m offended by people who take offence to stuff like this…but nobody does away with those people for me…which also offends me.

    View Comment