Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and
regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and
responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the
prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of
Given that the non-threatening use of the word 'cunt' is perfectly legal and commonplace on the street, on post watershed TV, and in 15 rated films, then it is clear the part 2 exclusions simply do not apply.
An internet ad for a Christmas card, displayed on www.amazon.co.uk, featured an image of the card, on which text stated YOU'RE A CUNT SORRY, I MEANT TO SAY 'MERRY CHRISTMAS' . Text alongside the image stated YOU'RE A C*NT
Sorry, I meant to say 'Merry Christmas' - Greeting/Christmas Card by SMELLYOURMUM .
A complainant challenged whether the ad was inappropriate and offensive.
Smellyourmum.com (SYM) believed the use of the word
cunt should be considered in the specific context of it appearing on a humorous card intended for close friends or family; in that context it was simply the set-up to the punchline of the gag. It was not offensive and did not single out any groups
of people based on ethnicity, religion, appearance or other characteristics. SYM said that when used with a positive qualifier, in this case Merry Christmas , the word could convey a positive sense of the person or object referred to, and they
understood that the origins of the word were non-offensive. They said a documentary devoted to the word had been broadcast on the BBC and they believed that if it was acceptable to broadcast a documentary which used the word repeatedly and which had
greater reach than their advertising in terms of audience, it was acceptable to use it in their advertising.
SYM said they accepted that some people might have had a strong reaction when seeing the word in the Amazon listing,
because they had failed to view it in context. They said that unfortunately the Amazon system did not allow them to list an item in specific adults only or over 18 categories and it also did not allow them to censor the image. They said
they would happily alter the image if that would help.
Amazon queried whether it was within the ASA's remit to prevent the display of product titles and images which were not otherwise prohibited by applicable decency laws. They
said it was appropriate for the ASA to investigate ads used to generate sales, but it was inappropriate for the ASA to investigate the display of a product for sale, especially if that investigation targeted one retailer amongst many selling the same
Notwithstanding that, Amazon said they were confident that the display of the product image was compliant with the CAP Code. The card was not offensive, aggressive or lewd in its message. The wording of the card
did not target any particular group, nor was it likely to cause offence to any particular race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. It was meant as a bit of light-hearted, irreverent fun. They acknowledged that the humour might not
be to everybody's taste, but considered that the subjective values of a small minority who might find it distasteful should not dictate a product's availability or the method of its advertisement to the wider public. They noted that Code rule 4.1 stated
that marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching the rule. Amazon said the card had not been included in any customer mail-outs and, assuming that children would rarely search for Christmas cards, the only people who
were likely to come across the listing were adults.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The ASA considered that the product listing was an advertisement which fell within the remit of the CAP Code and it was
therefore appropriate for us to investigate the complaint we had received. We understood the product might be available for purchase elsewhere online, but considered that because we had received a complaint specifically about an ad by SYM on Amazon, it
was entirely appropriate to investigate the ad specifically in that context.
We acknowledged that the wording of the card did not target any particular group, and also acknowledged that in the context of an online shop it was
likely that in the majority of cases the ad would be viewed by adults rather than by children. Nonetheless, we noted that CAP guidance on language advised advertisers that consumer research showed that the use of the word cunt was so likely to
offend that it should not be used at all in marketing communications even when it was relevant to the name of the product. We noted the expletive in the product description was partly obscured by an asterisk but considered that even in the absence of the
product image which showed the word in full, the intended meaning was still clear. We concluded the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told SYM to take care to avoid causing serious or widespread offence in future.
In response to the ASA censorship decision, Amazon took down the listing of the product.
Lord Zion and Vikki Spit - the tattooed couple behind the ASA / AMAZON Christmas Card C-Word debacle - speak out in defense of the card in question, their SMELLYOURMUM.COM website and criticise the ASA over their ruling.
We started our website after years of unemployment. We wanted to start our band, SPiT LiKE THiS, and needed to be able to fund that as well as provide us with an income. Vikki learnt to screen-print, I built the website, designed our
wares and we started advertising. It became really popular and we were soon able to come off Job Seeker's Allowance and pay our way through life. At the same time, it provided much needed fuel for our band, as well as good cross-promotion. To that end,
not only have we sustained a living, our band has released several EP's, two full albums and played on the same bill as bands like Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper. Quite an achievement.
are not necessarily what the mainstream expect people like us to be. We don't drink, don't do drugs and keep fit. We might look a bit odd to them but, thanks to the sales of our items, we have been able to rescue two disabled cats from Cat's Protection
and give regularly to various charities. I donate blood as often as I can and, in what little amounts of spare time I have, I give it to teach disabled people to ride horses. All the while, we just get on with what we do, work very hard and mind our own
The ASA ruling is way out of proportion. They received one complaint over the card. Before that complaint, the card was the number one best-selling single card on Amazon. So
hundreds of YES votes versus one NO. The problem with organisations like the ASA is that their intentions are misguided. The majority of intelligent people understand the origins of words and how their structure within a sentence or situation qualifies
their meaning. Problems tend to arise from the small portion of society who see a word and simply have a knee-jerk reaction to it, putting the cart before the horse. Fortunately for us, most of our customers are intelligent, sentient beings. The irony
is, by their ruling, the ASA has caused the widespread offense they warned us against. Our website, it's wares and the C-Word has reached a far wider audience than we could ever manage on our own - all because of the ASA.
Australia's easily offended advert censors of the Advertising Standards Bureau are seeking police assistance in forcing Wicked Campers, to remove amusing slogans that it has deemed somehow obscene, discriminatory and derogatory in decisions dating back
It is also pursuing the company over an internet promotion offering discounts to customers who identify as marijuana smokers or massive pot heads .
ASB Chief bully Fiona Jolly said Wicked Campers, whose controversial
graffitti-style painted vans have been the subject of 39 advertising complaints since 2008, was Australia's biggest serial offender when it came to ignoring the censor's rulings.
Jolly said the company was refusing to comply with ASB decisions to
remove three slogans with supposedly obscene language.
Jolly said she had this week written to Queensland Police Minister Jack Dempsey to seek police and government assistance in having the vans painted over.
Wicked Campers are our one and only problem advertiser in terms of compliance.
Ninety-eight per cent of advertisers will withdraw their ad immediately after a board decision, in other cases if an ad is on TV or on a billboard or on radio we have an arrangement so the actual media company or network will
withdraw the ad.
But Wicked are in the very small category of an advertiser who a) doesn't want to comply and b) their marketing is their own van, so there's no broadcaster or publisher that can help.
Queensland Police spokesperson said the van slogans might constitute a public nuisance offence under state laws, and it would consider any complaint made on its merits .
Wicked Campers spokesperson Ross Dudgeon, whose witty official title
is junior executive vice president of awesomeness , declined to comment.
The display of supposedly obscene film posters in public places in Kerala is a serious offence. However the Kerala Women's Commission (KWC), who launched a campaign against sexy poster in 2009, is convinced that there are still posters that are claimed
to be 'obscene'.
The group seems to find sexy pictures of women as 'obscene'. For a while the group was happy that theatre owners painted over women portrayed sexily in the posters, but they soon gave it up. KWC member Dr Rohini said:
Theatre owners did paint over obscene posters for a short while after our campaign, but now such posters are seen even on roadsides and at crowded junctions.
KWC secretary, Komlavally Amma, claimed
without providing any evidence:
Obscene advertisements and film songs send a wrong message to youngsters and many parents lose control of their children as a result.
If the commission gets any
petition on posters portraying women in a vulgar manner, it will take action.
A TV ad for the Fiat 500 has been banned for depicting unsafe driving and being too sexy.
The ad features a feisty Italian woman who transforms into a car in the imagination of a man. It ends with the car speeding off.
With all the media attention on the over sexualisation of girls and young women, this ad doesn't portray women in a positive light. It equates the woman with a car.
Chrysler Australia, which
owns Fiat, responded to the Advertising Standards Bureau by saying that the ad does portray women in a positive light by cleverly drawing a parallel between a beautiful woman and a car that people find appealing .
The ASB banned the ad for
unsafe driving and not treating sexuality with sensitivity to the audience.
A Scottish women's campaign group has called for consumers and shopkeepers to boycott Pussy energy drink after a few complaints about its supposedly sexist billboard campaign.
Posters promoting the product, Pussy, in large letters above the
sexually suggestive slogan:
The drink's pure. It's your mind that's the problem.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has received 90 complaints from members of the public who claim it is
sexually demeaning to women and unsuitable for children.
Jan Macleod, co-ordinator of the Glasgow-based Women's Support Project, said the adverts had damaged the group's attempts to changes attitudes towards women and sex. She spouted:
The people behind these adverts know what they are doing. It's up to people not to buy this drink. The public does have a sense of humour about sex, but is it necessary to have a drink called Pussy and a slogan which
reinforces they are talking about sex?
If consumers stopped and said to shopkeepers they didn't like it being stocked, they would be helping to make a difference. Parents should be even saying to their children 'do you need to
Well if it winds up the nutters then the drink must surely be worth a try.
Australia's advert censor has thrown out a complaint against a Brisbane burger joint after they used an image of a woman licking a cow's face to promote their premium beef.
The Advertising Standards Board dismissed the complaint which claimed the
Burger Urge advert to be loathsome, sick, wrong and perverted.
But the Board ruled most people would realise the image had been photoshopped, and while it would be considered distasteful by most people, it was not overly sexualised or provocative.
Australian Christian Lobby state director Wendy Francis spouted:
It's definitely a sexual sort of image. It says get intimate so we're not talking about a pet thing. The cow is dressed up as a man.
Francis has launched a campaign to make all outdoor advertising G rated and said people should feel confident they wouldn't have to see 'a woman making love to a cow". I'm not asking for a nanny state... [BUT] ...I'm just
asking would somebody please make it so that our children are allowed to have their childhood.
A new ad campaign for Fresh + Sexy intimate wipes has the aim to help you freshen up before and after sex, so you're ready for whatever comes next, according to the campaign's website.
The ads range from tacky to vulgar and have
caused a backlash from not so liberal websites such as Jezebel, The Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed.
Each of the ads features an animal or object with a double entendre joke as the headline. Some of the gems include a beaver with the text, A
clean beaver always finds more wood , a woodpecker with A clean pecker always taps it and a peach with the line A clean peach always gets picked.
The creative director for the ad claimed that, We wanted to be fun and playful
and bold all at the same time. And the campaign lets us be all those things.
Jezebel claimed that the ads to be demeaning of women; while Buzzfeed and Huff Po focused on the ad's humour. Jezebel made a cynical retort to the ads with
their headline: Unless Your Vagina Smells Like Windex, You Will Die Alone.
A billboard in Bristol has been labelled as supposedly offensive and derogatory towards women. The advertisement for an energy drink has in large letters Pussy, with smaller letters reading: The drink is pure, it's your mind that has a problem.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) confirmed to The Post that it has so far received 46 complaints relating to the company's nationwide advertising campaign and that a formal investigation had been launched. A spokesman said people
had complained that the adverts were offensive, overly sexual and derogatory towards women. Concerns were also raised that children were able to see the billboards.
Former Lib Dem city councillor Abdul Malik claimed the new billboard encouraged a
negative perception of the area, but admitted that the area lacked respect and was in need of tidying up:
We have been working so hard with the traders association to tidy the street up and rebuild some respect and
then this comes along.
I'm tired of this attitude that anything goes on Stapleton Road. I'm certain an offensive advertising board like this wouldn't been put up in the centre around the Council House.
Attwater, who campaigns for One Billion Rising a feminist organisation added:
If it was a male equivalent, it wouldn't be allowed would it? There has been a lot of raising awareness of violence against women and I feel
this sort of advert is in that class.
In terms of sexism this advertising campaign is the worst I have ever seen. The company tries to blame our dirty minds but even if that was the case they have to put that thought in someone's
mind and they don't care providing they are making loads of money.
A TV ad for the MTV series The Valleys featured young people at a house party. Scenes included a woman bouncing on the sofa so you could see her pants, a man flexing his pecs, a women
flexing her breasts in a low cut top, two women kissing, men and women kissing and a woman pulling up a man's top and touching his stomach.
The voice-over said, The harder they party, the harder they fall. Will they make it in
Cardiff, or will they just end up back in the valleys? Brand new reality, coming soon to MTV .
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction, which meant it should not be shown in or around programmes made for,
or specifically targeted at, children.
Four complainants objected that, due to its sexual content, the ad was inappropriately scheduled before 9pm when children might see it.
Clearcast said that when
assessing the ad they had considered previous decisions on ads for similar reality TV shows and for products which used innuendo or partial nudity in their treatment. They felt the ad did not go any further in terms of real or implied sexual content and
considered an ex-kids restriction was sufficient.
ASA Decision: Complaints Upheld
The complainants had seen the ad between 8pm and 9pm during Eddie Stobart: Trucks & Trailers and the Fresh
Prince of Bel-Air and believed that, due to its sexual content, the ad was not appropriate to be shown before 9pm. The ASA understood that the ad also been broadcast before 7.30pm. The ad did not contain any explicit nudity, but did include a number
of shots that focused on breasts and a number of suggestive scenes such as a woman moving her hand down a man's torso, and two women being photographed on a mobile phone while kissing. Many of the interactions between individuals at the party were
depicted with a sexual element and we considered that the overall tone of the ad was sexual. We therefore considered that the ad was not suitable for broadcast when younger children might be watching. We concluded that the ad was not suitable for
broadcast before 7.30pm and that the scheduling restriction applied was not sufficient.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 32.3 (Scheduling of television and radio advertisements).
The Valleys (Trailer) MTV Base, 14 September 2012, 10:10 (and also on other MTV channels at various times pre-watershed, between 28 August 2012 and 9 October 2012)
The Valleys, a reality series which started on MTV in
September 2012, featured a group of nine young people from the valleys in south Wales brought together in a house in Cardiff hoping to achieve their ambitions. The pre-watershed trailer for this new series was shown across MTV channels. It explained the
format of the series and introduced the characters of the nine young people featured.
A complainant alerted Ofcom to the trailer when shown on the morning of 14 September 2012 because of concerns regarding the sexual tone of its
content. The complainant considered it to be unsuitable for broadcast during the day when children were available to view.
On reviewing the trailer, Ofcom noted that it was about 30 seconds long. It included images edited together
in quick succession of a house party where the nine young people from the valleys were partying energetically with one another. The voiceover at the end of the trailer said: Can these nine party animals make it in Cardiff or will they just end up back
in the valleys? Brand new reality starts Tuesday 25th September only on MTV.
Ofcom noted that the brief images in the trailer included those of:
a woman, shot from the back, appearing to kiss a man's nipple as he pulls his shirt up;
a man lifting his t-shirt and flexing his chest muscles and a close-up shot of a woman, wearing a low-cut
dress revealing her cleavage, flexing her breasts;
a man and a woman kissing one another as she strokes her hand down his side and then a shot of the two of them walking towards a room or corridor;
two women play-fighting in a bathroom with foam; and
two women kissing as they are filmed on a mobile phone.
Ofcom considered the material raised issues warranting investigation under Rule 1.3 of the Code, which states:
Children must...be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is
unsuitable for them.
MTV stated that it considered the trailer suitable for broadcast pre-watershed. The Licensee said that the trailer was viewed by the compliance team on several occasions and discussed
extensively. The aim was to ensure the trailer struck the balance between the necessary protection of under-eighteens, the provisions of the Code and conveying the nature of the series to the audience. None of the scenes or individual shots featured in
the trailer came from any episode of the series.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.3
Ofcom noted that several of the edited images in the trailer showed physical interactions between the young people
featured in The Valleys. It was this interaction which, in Ofcom's opinion, created an implicit but unmistakeable sexualised tone with the purpose of reflecting the adult editorial nature of the post-watershed series. For example, Ofcom noted: the two
women kissing; the man and woman kissing while the woman strokes the man's torso in a suggestive manner; the woman appearing to kiss a man's nipple; and the woman flexing her breasts in a low-cut dress in response to a man flexing his chest muscles.
There was no nudity but Ofcom noted that there were images of a man's naked torso, a woman's cleavage, and women wearing skimpy party dresses. In Ofcom's view, the cumulative effect of the scenes in this trailer, when viewed together, resulted in a clear
adult tone which was in general unsuitable for a pre-watershed audience.
Broadcasts of the trailer however may have been appropriately scheduled when shown later in the evening relatively closer to the 21:00 watershed when
children were less likely to view.
Ofcom concluded that this trailer was not appropriately scheduled so as to protect children and therefore it breached Rule 1.3.
Close to a dozen pastors, reverends and bishops crowded the entrance to the Steen Outdoor Advertising building in Southwest Philly on Tuesday to protest a billboard that makes a cheeky edit to the 7th Commandment.
Thou Shalt Not Commit
Adultery, reads the I-95 ad for an online adult sugar daddy-mistress matching service, with the Not artfully crossed out.
A.J. Perkins, a marketing rep at arrangementfinders.com notes that the Toronto-based website site is family
friendly, but his definition refers only to the fact that outright nudity is prohibited. The home page greets visitors with shapely lingerie-clad legs framing a would-be paying customer and the tagline, Intimacy with a Twi$t.
A group of
Port Richmond third-graders from nearby St. George Catholic School already protested the sign last week. Philadelphia Unification Church Pastor Crescentia DeGoede said her group gave the company notice they were going to hold a protest of their own three
days ago, after Steen representatives refused to meet with area religious leaders.
Perkins couldn't speak to the future of the sign, but said its efficacy was assured by a 600 percent increase in members from the area sign-ups in the past few
IKEA Thailand has apologized to Thai Transgender Alliance for the unintended offense caused by an advert featuring a transgender person.
The advert, shown on Bangkok's BTS Skytrain system and YouTube, features a transgender woman who is
so shocked by a sale item she speaks in a masculine voice, causing the man she is with to later run away.
Thai Transgender Alliance said in a letter of complaint to IKEA:
The transgender content of the
advertisement is negative and stereotypical in nature.
I would like to apologize for the unintended offense may caused and we
will be more careful in the future.
We run many "spoof advertisements" where the friendly humor is intended to be an essential component. This was the intention in our campaign, where we also featured a number of
different people from a spectrum of Thai society "forgetting themselves" when they are so surprised at the value of the prices in our sale.
The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) has upheld complaints from the Transgender Equality Network Ireland that a TV advertisement for Meteor mobile broadband depicted transgender people negatively by promoting stereotypes and
encouraging a good laugh .
The ad features several ways that people try to get free WiFi internet access. One features a man dancing with what looks like a woman in a bar while surfing the internet over her shoulder. When the woman is
revealed to be a man in drag a slogan appears saying: Don't dance for it .
The ASAI upheld two complaints of its code. The first states that advertisements should not cause offence on several grounds including sexual orientation. The second
states that such groups should not be subject to ridicule or offensive humour . The ASAI explained:
A range of complainants considered that the bar scene portrayed transgender people in a very negative manner.
References were made to the fact that the man dressed as a woman was made to appear desperate and lecherous.
A number of complainants referred to the fact that the transgender community were particularly vulnerable and
marginalised. Other complainants suggested that this style of advertising encouraged violence towards members of the transgender community.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the responses from
the advertiser. They also considered the number of complaints received.
The Committee accepted that the transgender community were vulnerable as suggested by a number of complainants. They noted that there was a long tradition of
men dressing as women for example, in pantomime and that it would not be appropriate to prohibit the depiction of men dressed as women in all circumstances. They considered, however, that great care should always be taken in depicting or referring to
vulnerable groups who were subject to stereotyping.
They noted in this case that the advertisement had associated the statement Don't dance for it with the scenes portrayed in the bar. They considered that this implied an
element of desperation in an individual visiting such a bar and that it would be unacceptable for a man seeking broadband cover to dance with the man dressed as a woman.
A separate complaint was also upheld against broadband provider
PermaNet over an advert that depicted a man climbing up to a roof to obtain a proper broadband signal. When the signal becomes clear his perfect mate turns out to be a man wearing a white frilly dress, red lipstick and a blonde wig.
Entrepreneur and former Australian of the Year Dick Smith is furious his television advertisement for his all-Aussie food company filmed for Australia Day has been deemed too offensive for prime time television by the Advertising Standards Board
because of its Dick jokes and innuendo.
The tongue-in-cheek advertisement, which plays on the famous monikor of the company, is saturated with Dick jokes and innuendo.
It opens with Smith saying that Kekovich's use of
jingoistic patriotism to sell his products was as wrong as a dead dingo's donger and features a cast of characters, from farmers to boat people, promoting their love of Dick .
Smith had booked $100,000 of ad space during the 6pm news
bulletins to broadcast the ad on Australia Day. To air during this time advertisements need a G rating, but the Advertising Standards Board gave the one-minute spot a PG rating.Smith has told Fairfax Media he is talking to lawyers about what can be done:
The ad is harmless fun. Yes, it does have a couple of 'Dick' jokes, big deal, Mr Smith said.
I think it's harmless, it's good fun and these people should reverse their decision and on Australia
Day let me run the damn thing. They're talking about beeping it out and I said, 'No'.
The ad is not politically correct. See, everything has to be politically correct these days.
Burger chain Carl's Jr has been stopped from airing an American advertisement after it was ruled to be using sex to sell an unrelated product.
The commercial for the Memphis BBQ Burger shows two women in bikini tops and short shorts grilling
meat on an outside barbecue and then entwining their arms before eating burgers, as two open-mouthed men take pictures with a mobile phone.
It has aired in the US and Mexico but the Commercial Approvals Bureau (CAB), which must approve ads before
they screen locally, said it used sex in an exploitative and degrading manner to sell an unrelated product.
National Council of Women vice-president Rae Duff spouted the advertisement was overtly sexual and its stereotyping of women led to an
unhealthy focus on body image.
Seoul's Metropolitan Government has decided to prohibit buses from carrying advertisements with what it decides is socially undesirable content, extravagant or obscene.
In addition to an existing ban on alcoholic products, it
is especially targeting ads for plastic surgery or treatment for erectile dysfunction, ads with sexy pictures or phrases, and those that are either politically or religiously sensitive.
Under new regulations, bus operators will have to pay
1.2% of their total advertising revenue for each day that they are found to be in violation of the censorship rules.
A catalogue selling various products, including home furnishings, kitchenware and jewellery featured a number of ads for erotic books, including Brief Encounters: A Woman's Guide to Casual Sex, Shoot Your Own Adult Home Movies and Disciples
of the Whip . The cover of each book was shown, some of which featured sexual imagery. Issue
A complainant challenged whether the ads were offensive and inappropriate in a catalogue that could be seen by children.
Premier Offers Direct said they marketed their catalogues to those who had opted in to receive further offers from them. The complainant received the catalogue because she previously purchased a product from the advertiser in 2009 and
that, at the time, had opted in for additional offers from the advertiser and third parties. They also said that the catalogue to which the complainant responded also contained similar adult-related products and that, had she objected at the time, they
would have suppressed her from future mailings. They did not believe that the pictures or content of the ads were offensive.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The text that described each of the books was
of a sexual nature and some of the covers featured sexual imagery. The ASA considered that such content was likely to cause offence when displayed in a medium that could be seen by children. We understood that the complainant had opted in to receive the
catalogue. However, we were concerned that, by opting in, recipients were not made aware that they might receive sexually suggestive material as a result. Because the ad was addressed to general recipients and could therefore be seen by children we
considered that it was irresponsibly targeted and concluded that it breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence). Action
The ad must not appear again.
We told Premier Offers Direct not to include sexually provocative material in their catalogues in future, unless they were specifically targeted at recipients who had opted in to receive it.
Australia's advert censor has dismissed whinges against a Facebook advert for the lingerie brand Pleasure State.
The luxury underwear brand's ad, upload to its Facebook page, showed a female driver who had been pulled over by a male police
officer. It was accompanied by a graphic of its bust-enhancing bras and the question Getting out of a parking fine. Cleavagely Correct?
A complainant whinged to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB):
This ad is offensive, tasteless, unimaginative, and objectifies women. Anyone trying to justify the ad as acceptable clearly has no understanding of how raunch culture harms women, nor do they have any respect for women.
It conveys the message that it's appropriate for a woman to use her body to absolve herself of any form of adult responsibility, which in my view amounts to nothing less than pseudo prostitution.
to think of the message this ad sends to teenage girls - that if you use your body to avoid having to take responsibility for your actions, the ends justify the means. This perpetuates not only a lack of self-respect and continued objectification, but
sends the message to men that engaging in such behaviour is appropriate.
Pleasure State responded to the ASB:
In our view the advertisements are very clearly relevant to the products advertised, do
not portray people or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies any person or section of society in any grounds, [and] do not employ exploitative or degrading sexual appeal.
The ASB dismissed the complaint
The Board considered that the advertisement was depicting a fanciful situation and asking if such behaviour was appropriate. The advertisement is not demeaning to women nor is it discriminatory. The Board also
considered that the suggestion that a woman might try to avoid a fine by showing her cleavage makes no strong inference about the behaviour of police officers and whether or not they might be swayed from giving a fine by such behaviour.
The Board considered that the depiction of the woman and the police officer was intended to be humorous and while it presented a stereotypical situation, it did so in a manner that was not demeaning.
An e-mail, received in October 2012, stated Now then, now then in the subject line. The body of the e-mail stated TBM How's about that then in large print above a black and white image of Jimmy Savile, wearing underwear and smoking a cigar,
with a superimposed copy of a TBM magazine in his hand. Text beneath the image stated Christmas is coming and what better way of relaxing than to pull up a comfy velour settee, light up a Cuban cigar and finger through a copy of your favourite
magazine - delivered direct to your door. TBM ... the publication that doesn't take itself too seriously. 'As it 'appens!' .
Two complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive and irresponsible, in view of recent media
coverage surrounding allegations of sexual abuse made against Jimmy Savile.
Extreme Publishing Ltd, trading as TBM Magazine (TBM), stressed that they had not intended to offend or upset anyone by sending the e-mail. They explained
that the e-mail had been sent to almost 4,000 people who, as current or past subscribers to, or advertisers for, their magazine, had signed up to receive their eNewsletter. They noted that the ASA had received two complaints about the e-mail and said
that represented a very small proportion of those who had received it.
TBM stated that the image of Jimmy Savile, which they said showed him wearing running shorts and not underwear, was not distasteful in and of itself, because
pictures of him were prevalent in the media at the time. They pointed out that riders of trailbikes had to be at least 17 years old, and said in fact most of their magazine readers were much older and tended to be quite broad-minded.
TBM considered that neither the image nor the wording of the e-mail were distasteful, and reiterated that the text was obviously intended to be of a light-hearted nature. They said that was clear from the sentence TBM ... the
publication that doesn't take itself too seriously . They suggested that it would not be possible to avoid upsetting everybody at all times, and, although they stressed that they were sorry for any offence which had been caused, said they did not
consider the ad was in breach of the Code.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA understood that the e-mail was an eNewsletter designed to promote Trailbike & Enduro Magazine and had been sent to
a mailing list of current and past subscribers as well as companies which advertised in the magazine. We acknowledged that TBM believed their demographic for the hard-copy magazine was a broad-minded adult audience. We also acknowledged TBM's statement
that they had intended the e-mail to be humorous, and that they considered the joke to have been made at their own expense.
Although advertisers were entitled to refer to current news stories in their ads, we considered that
particular care was needed in such cases, and especially when the stories involved allegations about the sexual abuse of children. We understood that the e-mail had been sent several days after the Metropolitan Police had launched a formal criminal
investigation into alleged sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile, stating at that time that over 200 potential victims had been identified. We considered that the overall tone of the ad was light-hearted, and that that approach was likely to be seen as
insensitive by its recipients when used in conjunction with references to Jimmy Savile, given the media climate at that time. We also considered that, particularly in view of the e-mail's subject line, the accompanying text and the large image of Jimmy
Savile, who was seen reclining in an armchair wearing few clothes, it was likely to cause serious offence to some. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility)
and 4.1 (Harm and offence).