Posters promoting Demi Lovato’s latest album were banned in the U.K. after advertising regulators ruled the image “was likely to cause serious offense to Christians.”
The pop singer’s eighth studio album — the title of which is a play on the expression “Holy F–k” in which the letter “v” replaces the letter “u” — was released to critical acclaim in August. It debuted in the top ten album charts in both the U.S. and the U.K.
A poster promoting Lovato’s pop-punk record featured the 30-year-old singer-songwriter “bound in a bondage-style outfit whilst lying on a large, cushioned crucifix,” according to the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The promotional material was seen on six sites in London at the time, but it was taken down after just four days, following complaints received by ASA.
Altogether, the poster received four complaints, the advertising watchdog said.
On Wednesday, ASA issued a final ruling on the matter. It found the ad was indeed likely to cause offense.
“We considered it would be clear to most readers that the ad alluded to the expression ‘holy f–k,’” and that it “appeared in an untargeted medium and public place where children were also likely to see it.”
Regulators also took issue with the singer’s outfit in the poster.
“We considered that the image of Ms. Lovato bound up in a bondage-style outfit whilst lying on a mattress shaped like a crucifix, in a position with her legs bound to one side which was reminiscent of Christ on the cross,” the ruling said.
Additionally, the title of the album, “in that context was likely to be viewed as linking sexuality to the sacred symbol of the crucifix and the crucifixion [therefore the poster] was likely to cause serious offense to Christians.”
“The ad must not appear again in the form complained of unless it was suitably targeted,” regulators said. ASA also told Universal Music Operations “to ensure their ads did not cause serious or widespread offense in future.”