A website (store.americanapparel.co.uk) featured a product page for the Lips Print Cotton Spandex
Sleeveless Thong Bodysuit . A female model was featured in four images wearing the advertised product. One of the images showed her from the back with her buttocks visible.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and offensive, because it portrayed a sexualised image of a model who the complainant considered looked under 16 years of age.
American Apparel (UK) Ltd believed the image did not represent an underage model and said the model shown was 20 years old. They said the ad depicted the advertised product from various angles and included an image of the thong component of the bodysuit.
They believed the image was consistent with standards contained in similar ads.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA acknowledged the ad depicted the advertised product from various angles. We considered the model had a youthful appearance and that some consumers were likely to regard her as being younger than 16 years of age. The model was shown looking back
at the camera over her shoulder with her buttocks visible. We considered that readers were likely to interpret the model's expression and pose as being sexual in nature. In conjunction with the youthful appearance of the model, we considered the ad could
be seen to sexualise a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told American Apparel (UK) Ltd to ensure future ads did not include images that inappropriately sexualised young women or were likely to cause serious offence.
It's so easy to trash the Advertising Standards Authority -- who, as I must constantly point out, have no more legal authority than a bloke waving a placard in the middle of the street, and possibly far less common sense -- that I only do it sparingly.
But once again, they have made a decision that beggars belief, going far beyond a mere judgement on issues of taste and decency and entering into a world of thought crime that ironically makes them sound like a group of repressed, twisted perverts.
A billboard featuring a praying bare-breasted nun has sparked a blasphemy row after it was erected in an Italian city ahead
of a visit from Pope Francis.
The advert, which shows a model wearing part of a nun's habit and jeans whilst revealing parts of her breasts, appeared in Naples two weeks before an official papal visit.
Locals whinged that the image was 'offensive' and called for it to be taken down. But Italian clothing chain Rosso di Sera denied it was deliberately intended to offend as part of a publicity stunt. It said it would only remove the advert if it was
forced to do so by the national advert censor.
Adverts for a Jewish play which received five-star reviews in one of the religion's newspapers have been banned from the London Underground
because they could cause offence . Transport for London (TfL) decided that posters of Joshua Harmon's acclaimed production, Bad Jews , should be banned.
The poster for the comedy, which is about a family brought together after the death of their Holocaust-survivor grandfather, shows four characters in a quarrel on the floor.
One complaint was made to the the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) during the play's first campaign, but the advert censor concluded that the poster did not breach rules. However, TfL disagreed with the ASA's ruling and told the Evening Standard it
would not clarify the precise reason for the rejection. A TfL spokesperson said:
The advert, Bad Jews, was previously displayed on our network as our advertising contractor approved it without consulting us. It was subsequently submitted for display again and has been rejected as it contravened our advertising policy, which states
that adverts will not be approved if they may cause widespread or serious offence.
Producer Danny Moar has blasted TfL's decision, saying it seemed like censorship , despite the play winning a five-star review for the Jewish Chronicle. He told the paper:
Half the cast are Jewish, I'm Jewish, the writer is Jewish and the word 'bad' in the title, in so far as it matters, doesn't mean 'evil' -- it means 'non-observant'. This is a form of censorship which is so weird and ironic when, in the wake of the
Charlie Hebdo events, everyone marched against censorship.
The moralist campaign group One Million Moms whinges:
In Cottonelle's newest advertising campaign Dare to Go Commando, a company spokeswoman asks individuals if they feel cleaner after using Cottonelle because of the ripple texture. The Cottonelle spokeswoman goes so far as to ask another woman if
she feels clean enough to go commando now. The woman agrees and walks back into the restroom to return with her undies in a small shopping bag. The commercial ends with both women pulling down the waistbands of their pants just enough to reveal they
don't have panties on.
Cottonelle is encouraging consumers to go without underwear. Oh, please! This is ridiculous. This type of advertising is extremely inappropriate.
The tissue paper company also has a similar ad, Go Cottonelle. Go Commando. In this ad, the spokeswoman asks a man to go commando, and it ends the same way.
ASA has published 2014's top ten most complained about ads. The top three
ads are also the most complained about ads ever. Topping the list is Paddy Power's Oscar Pistorius ad with 5,525 complaints.
The fact that the three most complained about ads ever have appeared in 2014 reflects the rise of social media, which has allowed members of the public to voice and co-ordinate their concerns about ads. Many of the complaints about the Paddy Power ad and
the third most-complained about ad (The Sun's Win a Date with a Page 3 Model') were coordinated via the online petition site, change.org.
2014's ten most complained about ads are:
1. Paddy Power.
5,525 complaints upheld by ASA.
ASA banned this national press ad that offered incentives to bet on the outcome of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial. ASA claimed that the ad caused serious offence by trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and disability.
1,768 complaints not upheld.
This TV and cinema ad prompted complaints that the ad was offensive and encouraged bad language amongst children by using the word booking in place of a swear word. ASA did not uphold the complaints, judging that it was a light hearted play
on words that couldn't be mistaken for an actual swear word. We also ruled that it was unlikely to encourage swearing amongst children; any children that did pick up on the joke were unlikely to have learned bad language through the ad itself.
3. The Sun.
1,711 complaints upheld
An email sent to subscribers of the Sun's Dream Team fantasy football competition featured a prize draw to win a date with a Page 3 model. Winners were also able to pick their date. The complaints, many of which were submitted as part of a campaign led
by SumOfUs.org, believed the ad was sexist and objectified women. ASA upheld the complaints claiming that the email was offensive and irresponsible for presenting women as objects to be won.
4. Sainsbury's in association with The Royal British Legion
823 complaints not upheld
Sainsbury's Christmas TV ad showed a story based on the 1914 Christmas Day truce during the First World War. Most of the complainants objected to the use of an event from the First World War to advertise a supermarket. While acknowledging that some found
the ad to be in poor taste, ASA did not judge the ad to be offensive and in breach of the Code.
5. The Save the Children Fund
614 complaints not upheld
This TV and video-on-demand ad featured a women giving birth to a baby with the help of a midwife and prompted complaints that the scenes were offensive, distressing and inappropriately scheduled. ASA did not uphold the complaints and agreed that the
ad's post 9 pm scheduling restriction appropriately reduced the risk of younger viewers seeing the ads and causing distress.
267 complaints considered resolved
A TV and cinema ad claimed Everyone who works at Waitrose owns Waitrose prompted complaints that it was misleading because they understood that some services, like cleaning, were outsourced. Waitrose greed to amend the ad and ASA considered the
7. VIP Electronic Cigarettes
199 complaints that were upheld
Complaints claimed that two VIP e-cigarette TV ads glamorised and promoted the use of tobacco products. ASA did not uphold the complaints about glamourisation, but did consider the ads depicted the products being exhaled in a way that created a strong
association with traditional tobacco smoking.
8. TADServices Ltd
188 complaints. The first actual real complaint about a reprehensible website.
183 complaints not upheld
This animated TV and YouTube ad for Flora Buttery showed two children making breakfast in bed for their parents and walking in on their parents wrestling . ASA received complaints that the ad was offensive and unsuitable for children to see. While
ASA acknowledged that while the ad was suggestive, it did not contain any sexually graphic or distressing scenes, and so was unlikely to cause undue fear or distress to young viewers.
177 complaints more actual real complaints about a reprehensible website.
TV ad and a cinema ad for a travel website, Booking.com:
The TV ad featured scenes of various people arriving at their holiday destinations. The voice-over stated, This holiday has been a year in the planning. And here you are standing, nay staring down your dreams. The rest of your
holiday hinges on the moment you walk through that door. The door opens, you hold your breath and then you realise. You got it right. You got it booking right. Because it doesn't get any better than this. It doesn't get any booking better than this. Look
at the view, look at the booking view. This is exactly what you booking needed. Bask in the booking glory at over half a million properties. Planet earth's number one accommodation site. Booking dot com, booking dot yeah. At the end of the ad
on-screen text stated Booking.com , which was replaced by Booking.yeah in time with the voice-over.
The ASA received 2,345 complaints
The majority of complainants, who believed the word booking had been substituted in place of a swear word, challenged whether the ads were offensive;
A number of complainants challenged whether the ads were irresponsible because they were likely to condone or encourage swearing amongst children;
A number of complainants, some of whom reported seeing ad (a) on the CITV channel or during programmes such as a Harry Potter film, and who understood that children were therefore likely to see the ad, challenged whether it was
A number of complainants, some of whom reported seeing ad (b) during screenings of films including Paddington and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb , and who understood that children were therefore likely to see
the ad, challenged whether it was appropriately placed.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA understood that the repetition of the word booking was intended to raise awareness of the Booking.com brand and had used word play in a comical way to express that message. We noted that the word booking was used throughout
the ad in a variety of contexts that each lent themselves to substitution with an expletive, and that many viewers would understand the use of booking as word play on the word fucking . However, we considered that the voice-over artist
enunciated the word clearly and that it was sufficiently distinct so as not to be generally confused with the word fucking . We also considered that use of the word booking was not gratuitous or out of context because it was directly
relevant to the advertiser's brand name and the URL they were promoting. Although we acknowledged that the placement of the word was redolent of the use of expletives we noted that the ad did not expressly use any explicit language and therefore
concluded that, although some viewers might find the connotation and word play distasteful, it was unlikely that the ad would cause serious or widespread offence.
2. Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged complainants' concerns that the substitution of the word booking could encourage children to swear. However, we considered booking was sufficiently dissimilar to fucking to be unlikely to be recognised as a
reference to a swear word by those who were not already familiar with the word or associated phrases, and therefore considered that children would infer that the term was being used as a reference to the advertiser's brand name. We also considered that
as the ad did not contain an expletive it was unlikely in itself to promote the use of such words and that those children who were old enough to realise the innuendo would be likely to understand that the humour was derived from the substitution rather
than the use of an expletive. We understood that a small number of complainants had reported hearing their children swear after seeing the ad, but considered that because the ad did not contain any expletives this behaviour would not arise from the ad
itself. Although some complainants were concerned that the ad was encouraging children to say booking in the manner of the ad (and that some had reported this happening) we did not consider that this was tantamount to having encouraged these
children to use expletives. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to condone or encourage swearing amongst children.
3. Not upheld
The ASA understood that Clearcast had not applied a scheduling restriction to the ad, and that this was largely based on previous decisions made about other ads that had used similar approaches. We agreed with Clearcast's assertion that booking was sufficiently removed from
fucking that it would not register with younger viewers, and also considered that older children who already knew the expletive implied by the ad would be unlikely to be adversely affected by the content. We therefore concluded that the ad was
acceptable without a scheduling restriction.
4. Not upheld
The ASA understood that the CAA had taken the decision to place the ad during PG film screenings both because the type of humour used was present in films of this rating and because the BBFC had given the ad itself a PG rating, and considered that this
was an appropriate way of determining whether the ad should be placed in such a screening. Again, we considered that younger viewers would not understand that booking was a substitution of an expletive, and that older children who understood the
humour would not be unfavourably affected by the ad. We therefore concluded that the ad had not been irresponsibly placed.
An ad for giffgaff, played on YouTube, opened with sounds of a woman screaming for help. She was running along a road at night being pursued by a man who appeared to be holding a chainsaw. As the ad developed, a stream of screaming
characters was introduced, each being pursued by the last. They included the initial woman and man, a clown, a zombie, a pumpkin head, a doll holding a blow torch, a ghost and a man with an upside down head. The collective of characters was then seen as
a mock choir, singing outside a house. On-screen text stated When you're scared, you're not the boss. At giffgaff we're all the boss. giffgaff the mobile network run by you
The ASA received two complaints:
one complainant, whose child had seen the ad before a programme for young viewers, challenged whether it was appropriate for children; and
the second complainant, who had seen the ad on a number of occasions while watching music videos and who pointed out that it was not possible to skip until three seconds had played, challenged whether the ad was unduly distressing.
The opening scene of the ad was tense with a dark background and eerie sound effects before the introduction of the female character, who appeared to be in terror, screaming, Someone please help me . The ensemble of creatures who followed her were
also introduced as menacing and, although it was revealed at the close of the ad that the choir was unthreatening, young viewers were unlikely to understand the plot's twist or recognise that the monsters were not as they appeared. We considered
that the ad was unsuitable for young children to view.
giffgaff had explained that the ad was made available only to YouTube subscribers who were signed into their account, such that their age was verifiable. We also understood from the background information provided that the account holder was served the
ad because they had searched for similar content previously. We understood, however, that the ad was played before a programme of interest to very young viewers. While the account holder was over 18, the content of the programme in which the ad was seen
was unlikely to be of interest to them and any over 18s watching were likely to be doing so in order to accompany young children. Although we acknowledged that the ad had been targeted in line with the profile of the account holder, including their
search history, and that giffgaff had no control over the age of people accessing the account of an over 18-year-old, in view of the content of the programme material being watched at the time, it was reasonable for consumers to expect that only
advertising material that was suitable for a young audience would be shown.
While we recognised giffgaff's efforts to target the ad to over 18s, and understood that they had used YouTube's targeting filters to their full extent, we considered that, ultimately, it had not been targeted appropriately and was therefore in breach of
the CAP Code.
2. Not upheld
We understood that the ad appeared over Halloween and considered that adult viewers were likely to recognise the ad's timed theme. Although we acknowledged that the complainant had found the ad difficult to watch, with particular reference to the woman's
screams, we considered that it was unlikely to cause fear or distress to adults. No graphic imagery was seen in the opening sequence and a skip function was included to enable those who preferred not to see the ad to bypass it. Those who continued to
watch would experience the unfolding of the plot and any menace implied by the introduction was quickly dispelled.
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
A video-on-demand (VOD) ad for the video game The Evil Within was seen between 19:00 and 19:30 during an episode of Time Team . The ad began with a shot of a record player and the sound of classical music, which was replaced abruptly by a
shriek and low-pitched atonal music. The ad then showed a metal door with a small window, and a close up of a man making barbed wire. This was interspersed with footage of a platform descending, carrying a figure wearing a bloodied apron, holding a large
mallet and with a metal box covering his head. There was then a shot of a bubbling red pool from which a figure arose, covered in red liquid. This sequence was interspersed with footage of burning flowers, an arm reaching out of the metal door, shots of
the character whose head was covered by the metal box, and an eye with a red iris. During these sequences extracts from three reviews were superimposed over the footage, two of which referred to the horror genre of the game and the third describing the
game as wonderfully vile. The product name was then displayed on screen, alongside shots of the packaging and the PEGI 18 logo. Issue
The complainant, who believed that Time Team was a family programme that children were likely to watch, challenged whether the ad had been responsibly placed.
ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld
The ASA noted that there were no specific placement restrictions applying to non-broadcast ads for PEGI 18-rated games, but that such ads should be placed responsibly to reflect their content. We considered that the tone of the ad was generally menacing
and tense and included shots of a figure covered in a red blood-like substance, although we noted that there was no explicit violence or peril. We considered that it could cause distress to younger children, but was unlikely to do so for older children
and that reasonable steps were necessary to ensure responsible placement away from programming that was particularly likely to appeal to children.
We noted that Time Team , not being obviously adult-themed, had the potential for broad appeal and that care must be taken with the placement of ads around this type of content. We understood that Channel 4 automatically restricted such ads from
appearing around such programmes by preventing them being placed within content that had a 120 child index in linear broadcast, a measure used to demonstrate whether the TV broadcast version of a programme had a significantly higher proportion of
children in the audience than there was in the general population. The linear broadcast audience indices provided by Channel 4 demonstrated very low audience representation for children in general and children under the age of 10 especially. We
considered that this indexing data gave a reasonable indication of a programme's appeal and that it had in this instance demonstrated that children, and young children in particular, were very unlikely to be viewing Time Team on 4OD. Although we
understood that the programme had not been subject to the parental guidance controls available on the platform, we considered that the use of careful and appropriate targeting could mitigate the placement of adult-themed ads in such programming. We
considered that, by targeting audiences over the age of 18 and using linear audience indices to determine the likely appeal of programming and thus avoid programmes with particular appeal to children, the advertiser and Channel 4 had acted responsibly in
placing the ad. We concluded that its placement did not breach the Code.
Website hosting company GoDaddy has upset puppy lovers. It said that it would pull its latest Super
Bowl ad over complaints that it somehow promotes inhumane breeding practices.
In the ad, an adorable golden retriever puppy falls off the back of the truck, then travels day and night to return home to his owners.
I'm so glad you made it home, the puppy's owner says when she greets him. Because I just sold you on this website I built with GoDaddy.com.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals whinged:
If you can buy a puppy online and have it shipped to you the next day, it's likely you're supporting inhumane breeding.
The PC lynch mob bayed for blood on Change.org in petition that raised about 40,000 signatures:
Essentially, Go Daddy is encouraging private breeding/puppy mills while shelter animals wait patiently for their forever homes or worse -- to be euthanized. Animal rights are no laughing matter and to portray them as such is cruel and
GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving responded.
What should have been a fun and funny ad clearly missed the mark and we will not air it.
Christian morality campaign group, One Million Moms has taken easy offence at a trivial Kellogg's advert. The group writes:
Kellogg's new Pop Tart commercial includes a double entendre that is inappropriate and unnecessary. Foul language or the implication of it is not needed in this commercial, but that is exactly what Kellogg's intended with their play on words.
The animated commercial has a mom pop tart and a dad pop tart admiring their newborn baby pop tart at the hospital nursery when a nurse walks in. The dialogue includes: He so has your peanut butter. Well, he's got your jelly. Then the
nurse, while rubbing her hands together ready to devour the baby pop tart, says, Time for a feeding. The parents say, No! Ah, Jam It! The advertisement could have ended with No! but Kellogg's chose to include a phrase that
sounded just like a curse word.
Kellogg's should be more responsible in their marketing decisions. Let them know that as a parent and consumer you are offended the company cares more about financial gain than the impression made on our children.
The Advertising Standards Authority has launched a formal investigation into Booking.com's latest Booking Dot Yeah advert after a viewers whinged that it was offensive.
A spokesperson for the advert censor said:
The general nature of the complaints is that the ad is offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children because they consider the repetition of 'booking' suggests a swear word. We will publish our findings in due course.
The new campaign, which started being shown on TV screens and in cinemas in December, follows on from similar adverts earlier in the year.