The image in question is the album cover of Lovato’s latest album, Holy Fvck. The watchdog found that through the image and the overt swear word in the title, Lovato was linking sexuality to a sacred symbol.
Polydor Records said the poster constituted artwork to promote the album and did not believe it was offensive.
The poster was removed after four days in August 2022. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) revealed it received complaints about the “image of Ms Lovato bound up in a bondage-style outfit whilst lying on a mattress shaped like a crucifix”.
The singer was “in a position with her legs bound to one side which was reminiscent of Christ on the cross,” the ASA added.
“Linking sexuality to the sacred symbol of the crucifix and the crucifixion” was likely to cause serious offence to Christians, the ASA concluded.
Holy Fvck is Lovato’s eighth album and was released last August. It documents her journey with addiction, recovery and mental health. She first began work on it after a voluntary stint in rehab.
The poster in question was put up in six locations across London, with the ASA also revealing it appeared in a public place where children were likely to see it.
In its ruling, the ASA said the poster cannot appear again in the form complained of unless it was “suitably targeted”. The ASA also told Universal Music Operations Ltd to ensure their adverts did not cause “serious or widespread offence” in future.