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Controversial Elle Macpherson ad escapes Australian ban

SYDNEY - The controversial new advertising campaign for Elle Macpherson Intimates, showing an underwear-clad knife-fighting model, has been cleared for screening in Australia as it faces calls to be banned in the UK.

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The Advertising Standards Board in Australia, the self-regulatory system that deals with complaints about ads, had reviewed the campaign following a number of complaints from viewers after first being screened in August.

The ad, called "knife fight", opens with a woman standing in Intimates underwear picking up and putting down knives in a kitchen. It then shows two women having a naked knife fight and ends with a woman cleaning blood off the kitchen floor. At no point in the ad can the women's faces be seen.

There have also been calls from lobbying groups to ban the campaign for promoting violence against women, and an opinion piece in the newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald slammed the campaign, saying: "The ad just seems like a misogynist's sick fantasy, not the creative oeuvre of a fabulously lucky, successful Australian mother of two. She must really be desperate to sell bras."

However, the Advertising Standards Board has rejected the complaints, saying that it did not consider the material to break the code regarding the portrayal of sex, sexuality and nudity. The ad was already restricted to being screened after 8.30pm.

The campaign has caused a storm in the UK before it was even screened. The mother of murder victim Jane Longhurst, who was killed by a man obsessed with images of necrophilia and violent sex, has called for the campaign to be banned because it links sexual titillation with violence.

Elle Macpherson, who gets a credit as creative director on her website, has said: "The imagery is beautifully haunting and ambiguous."

The ads, which can be viewed here, were created by Australian creative agency The Glue Society and photographer Mario Sorrenti. There are two other executions in the campaign, as well as series of print ads.

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