OnlyFans account billboards in London streets spark complaints

Posted: 5th July 2023

Source: BBC News

Billboards advertising a woman’s explicit OnlyFans account have sparked complaints to the advertising watchdog.

The adverts, showing model Eliza Rose Watson in underwear, have appeared in Harrow and Edgware in north-west London and Lambeth in south-west London.

One of the adverts in Harrow has been spray-painted over, with the words “keep porn off our streets”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) says it is reviewing complaints about the advert.

In a statement, the ASA said it had received five complaints about the advert.

“Complainants believe the ad is inappropriate, in particular in untargeted media where children are able to view it,” it said.

“We’re reviewing these complaints to determine whether there are grounds for an investigation.”

However, Ms Watson told the BBC the visual content of the adverts had been “very well thought out”.

‘Less racy’

She explained: “The image in the art is simply a torso shot of a 34-year-old woman.

“I would say it’s no more adult than an ad for alcohol and, actually, less racy even than ads you see for lingerie within big shopping centres.

“It’s kind of an adult thing to do, to join the dots between the logo and the image.”

Ms Watson, who said she paid for four adverts in London and two in New York, added that if a child or young adult recognised the OnlyFans logo then it was a “wider issue” because such content is widespread online.

She went on to suggest restricting where such adverts could be placed would only “demonise” them, asking: “Is applying shame and stigma to something the best way to be dealing with something that is everywhere?”

Members of the public in Harrow had mixed feelings about the adverts when asked about them by the BBC.

Alex Mitchell said: “I’ve got no issues with people following a career, if it’s legal.

“But I think advertising issues like what’s on the poster behind me when you’re close to local schools – you’ve got a primary school up the end of this road, you’ve got a secondary school there – young people are impressionable, and it’s completely out of order.”

Pushpa, who did not want to give her last name, said: “It’s very suggestive and it’s very distracting, I would say, for other drivers going around and pedestrians.

“I wouldn’t want it here because it’s not relevant to this kind of area, to any area.”

Another woman, who did not want to be identified, said: “It doesn’t really bother me.

“To be honest, I would walk past it and not even notice it, and also I’ve seen women in bikinis and stuff before so I wouldn’t really take much notice.”

She added those complaining were “slightly overreacting”.

Another woman said: “If I walked past it I wouldn’t glance twice at it, that’s not something I would look at.

However, she continued by saying that since pupils were able to walk past the adverts, “they might see that and wonder why it’s there, so I don’t think it’s a very good idea to keep it on the side of a building, especially on a crowded street”.

A spokesperson for billboard company Amplify, which is hosting the adverts in London, told the BBC it follows “strict ASA rules” and the company had “stuck to the advertising guidelines”.

“The contents of the campaign are those of the advertiser, not of Amplify,” they said.

“We believe the adverts being displayed are well within the ASA rules.”

OnlyFans declined to comment.

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