A promotional poster for Demi Lovato’s latest album was banned in the UK and pulled from billboards for being offensive toward Christians. The poster began to appear across London last summer.
Demi Lovato poster banned for being offensive to Christians https://t.co/rsXjQYsevj
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) January 11, 2023
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK’s agency for regulating advertisements, said it received four complaints regarding Lovato’s poster promoting her new album, Holy Fvck.
The UK’s advertising watchdog also stated that the title of her new album and the poster hinted at a swear word and linked sexuality with a sacred religious symbol.
The poster in question depicted Demi Lovato wearing a red and black bondage outfit while lying on a mattress shaped like a crucifix on a red background. The American singer was also "in a position with her legs bound to one side, which was reminiscent of Christ on the cross,” according to the ASA.
This is the Demi Lovato poster banned in the UK by the Advertising Standards Authority pic.twitter.com/7pmBJu3g5u
— NeilMackay (@NeilMackay) January 11, 2023
The ASA, therefore, argued that the poster breached the code because “together with the reference to Holy Fvck,” the poster is "likely to be viewed as linking sexuality to the sacred symbol of the crucifix and the crucifixion."
The watchdog also received complaints about the posters’ placement, saying they were placed irresponsibly in areas where children could see them. The promotional materials were put in six areas across London before they were taken down.
Polydor Records, Demi Lovato’s record label and a division of Universal Music Operations Ltd., defended the poster, said that the artwork was made to promote her latest album, and believed that the artwork had no offensive undertones. The label also stated that the poster received approval before it was released.
The label said they checked with Brotherhood Media, a London-based creative advertising agency, before placing the posters in proposed areas. Brotherhood Media assured the label that it would be acceptable to run the advertisement, and Polydor proceeded based on that decision.
Humanists UK has long campaigned to lift the ban on 'blasphemy' in advertising. Free speech is being stifled and 'offence' is being weaponised. Sign our petition to call on the Advertising Standards Authority to lift the ban. https://t.co/09SR3pfbhg
— Humanists UK (@Humanists_UK) January 12, 2023
Polydor told the ASA the poster would only appear for four days before they were removed. It warned the label to only use the artwork again if it suits the target audience. The agency also warned Universal Music Operations Ltd not to run advertisements that would cause severe and widespread offense in the future.
Demi Lovato released her latest album Holy Fvck in August 2022. The album documented her struggles with mental health issues and alcohol and drug addiction, and her complicated path toward recovery. Despite the poster's controversy, her album peaked at number 7 in the UK’s Official Albums Chart Top 100 from August 26 to September 1 last year.