These posters, at first glance, seem to explicitly indicate a kiss between two women, but when you look closer, you realize that in reality, each poster just shows a beautiful model kissing herself or kissing her reflection.
According to the press release, "these advertisements bring to life the promise at the heart of our Beauty Bazaar, Harvey Nichols store which is; after pampering and indulging yourself from head to toe across three floors of beauty, looking in the mirror will be a captivating experience and you’ll fall in love with yourself all over again."
The ASA received 17 complaints from people who have found that these ads were intolerable especially as they could be seen by children.
The store was immediately in contact with the ASA stating that they are not lesbians kissing.
A few days ago, the ASA ultimately dismissed all complaints saying:
"We acknowledged that some complainants had interpreted the posters differently and had understood them to depict a lesbian kiss.
"One person also mentioned a young child who had not identified that the kiss was between one woman and her mirror image.
"Although we recognised that some people might have found what they perceived to be a portrayal of a lesbian kiss distasteful, we considered that a reference to homosexuality in an ad would be unlikely in itself to cause widespread or serious offence or constitute irresponsible advertising."
The Daily Mail reports that Harvey Nichols has also argued that, although the ads were not intended to represent homosexuality, pictures of lesbians are not offensive or unacceptable and must be accepted by the ASA.
"The advertising industry should be in the vanguard of those promoting and supporting the equalities espoused by anti-discrimination laws, including those concerning sexual orientation," he said.