Dutch retailer Mexx falls victim of purge of sex in ads

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BRUSSELS -- Holland may be known for its tolerent attitude towards sex and drugs, but that liberalism vanishes when it comes to advertising.

Dutch clothing retailer Mexx has been forced to pull a bus stop poster campaign for a new range of perfumes because they are judged to be too sexy.

The ad, produced in house, features a blond-haired white-skinned woman sitting in the lap of a black man with her legs and arms wrapped around his back. Both models are naked but there isn't a breast or genital in sight.

Dutch advertising watchdog the RCC ruled against the ads as part of a drive to force sex out of Dutch advertising. "The decision reflects the deep-running puritanical steak in Dutch society," says one Dutch industry source, who is not surprised by the decision. "The RCC has been trying to squeeze out erotic images from ads for some time," she says.

The ads also appeared on bus stops in neighbouring Belgium, provoking an outcry from the country's extreme right wing political party the Vlaams Blok. But Mexx completed its two week campaign in Belgium unhindered.

Vlaams Blok MP Alexandra Colen aired her rage in the Belgian parliament last week. The official reason for her concern, she insists, is not the race issue raised by the poster, but the sexiness of the image. "Sex is for the bedroom, not the high street," she told local papers earlier this week.

Vlaams Blok rank and file are suspected of having taken the law into their own hands by defacing the posters as soon as they appeared in the Belgian capital, Brussels last month.Their opposition to racial minorities in Belgium was one of the party's main campaign platforms at last year's general election.

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Copyright December 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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