Identical video ads on the website www.mulberry.com and on YouTube, seen in November 2015, promoted Mulberry handbags. Both ads showed a man giving a woman a Mulberry handbag as a gift in scenes reminiscent of the Christmas Nativity story. Issue
Forty-two complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive to Christians because it replaced the baby Jesus with a handbag. The complainants objected that it undermined central messages of their faith; that the important scene was
being used for the purpose of consumerism; and that it was blasphemous.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted that the ad was based on the bible story of the birth of the baby Jesus in a
stable, and the visits by the shepherds and the wise men bearing gifts. We noted that the ad had appeared in the month before Christmas and that the complainants had found the use of religious references for commercial aims offensive. We noted that the
ad began with the man giving the woman a gift with the words, I know we weren't doing presents this year, but ... , which we considered suggested a modern-day, present-giving context for what followed. Later on, after the shepherds and wise men
had admired the bag, the man said, Guys, it's only a bag , which we considered was likely to be interpreted by viewers as referring to the playful and ridiculous nature of the comparison with the Nativity story, and was more likely to be seen
as a humorous reference to consumerism than ridiculing the story. We acknowledged that the ad might not be to everyone's taste, but considered most viewers would understand it as a light hearted take on the Nativity story, intended to poke fun at the
effect of consumerism on Christmas rather than mocking or denigrating Christian belief. Because of that, we considered the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
The Advert Standards Authority for Ireland has banned another in long line of amusing and provocative advert from bookmaker Paddy Power. This time alluding to Calais immigrants jumping into trucks bound for the UK. The ASAI explained:
An advertisement which featured on social media channels included pictures of the following five sports stars, Andy Murray, Raheem Sterling, Mo Farah, Manu Tualigi and Eoin Morgan, they were shown on a truck side. The text read as follows:
IMMIGRANTS JUMP IN THE BACK! (BUT ONLY IF YOU'RE GOOD AT SPORT) PADDYPOWER
Complainants considered the advertisement to be in poor taste, offensive, racist, and exploiting the situation that immigrants
in Calais currently found themselves in, i.e. jumping onto moving lorries to gain entry to the UK. One complainant considered that the advertisers were making a joke out of human tragedy, while another considered it was likely to inflame negative
attitudes towards immigrants. One complainant queried the use of Andy Murray in the advertisement.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the
advertisers' response. They noted that the advertisers had targeted their followers on Facebook and Twitter with their advertisement. The Code provides that in assessing compliance, particular attention is paid to the media by means of which the
marketing communication is communicated. In this case the Committee accepted that while the majority of Paddy Power followers on Social Media and Twitter would probably be aware of their edgy sense of humour, it was nevertheless inappropriate for
advertisers to refer to vulnerable groups, in a manner that highlighted their current high profile difficulties, in marketing communications merely to attract attention.
Action Required: The advertisement should not appear in the
same form again.
A tweet and videos that appeared on the advertiser's website (as a pre-roll ad on YouTube and on the advertiser's YouTube channel) promoting wine, were seen between 12 August 2015 and 4 September 2015.
a). The tweet from the Premier Estates Wine Twitter account, dated 11 August, stated Tweet 'I want to #TasteTheBush' and you could wine [sic] a case of wine!... . The tweet also included an image of a woman, from
her chest to her mid-thigh, standing behind a table on which a glass of red wine was resting directly in front of her crotch. Overlaid text stated #TasteTheBush .
b). The website for Premier Estates Wines
www.premierestates.co.uk included a video on the News page of the site as part of a post entitled We Invite You to #TasteTheBush . It featured a woman in a kitchen holding a glass of red wine and talking about the positive attributes of
Premier Estates Australian wines. After she had taken a sip she stated Luscious, earthy, bursting with fruit and spice. Australia practically jumps out of the glass . She then placed the glass on the table in front of her, directly in front of her
crotch, before continuing In fact, some say you can almost taste the bush . She then looked awkwardly away from the camera before picking up her glass and walking away from the table.
c) The video that
appeared on the Premier Estates YouTube channel was identical to ad (b).
d) A pre-roll ad on YouTube, was identical to ad (b). Issue
The ASA received eight complaints.
Five complainants, including Wine Australia, a statutory body within Australia whose role included promoting the consumption and sale of Australian wine overseas, challenged whether the ads (b) and (c) were offensive, because
they were sexist and degrading towards women.
One complainant challenged whether ad (a) was offensive, for the same reasons.
Three complainants, including Alcohol Concern,
challenged whether the ads were in breach of the Code because they linked alcohol with sexual activity.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA considered that most viewers would understand the claim ... some say you can almost taste the bush to be a reference to oral
sex, particularly given that it was accompanied with the image of the wine glass positioned directly in front of the woman's crotch. The line appeared towards the end of the ad and, in conjunction with the image, which emphasised the sexual connation,
created the final impression left by the ad. While the woman was immediately aware of the double-entendre and seemingly only mildly embarrassed as a result, we considered that it served to undermine her as, until that point, she had been portrayed as
confident and in control while discussing the merits of the wine, in what appeared to be a relaxed and informal party atmosphere. For that reason, we considered that the ad presented the woman in a degrading manner, and concluded that it was likely to
cause serious or widespread offence.
We noted that the ad included a still from the video, which only showed the woman's arms and torso, with a glass of red wine resting on a table directly in
front of her crotch, and the text #TasteTheBush overlaid. While we understood the claim was intended to be tongue-in-cheek and could be construed to relate to the qualities of Australian wine, as stated in point 1 above, we considered that
recipients would understand the dual meaning and the clear reference to oral sex. We considered that the cropped image which concealed the woman's face accompanied by text that was also referring to her genitalia and oral sex, served to reduce the woman
to merely a sexual object. In light of that, we considered that the ad presented the woman in a degrading manner and was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Further, we considered that the fact recipients of the tweet were encouraged to
re-tweet the claim themselves to partake in a competition was likely to amplify any offence caused. For those reasons we concluded that the ad was in breach of the Code.
We considered that
consumers would understand the claim #TasteTheBush , particularly when accompanied with an image of a woman standing behind a wine glass, which emphasised her crotch, to be a double-entendre referring to both Australian red wine, and female
genitalia and oral sex. We also noted that the ads clearly promoted an alcoholic product and that an image of a glass of red wine was featured in each ad. Because the ads clearly referenced oral sex and featured an alcoholic product, we concluded that
they linked alcohol with sexual activity and were in breach of the Code.
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Premier Estates Wine to ensure their ads did not cause serious or widespread offence and to
ensure they did not link alcohol with sexual activity in future.
The company responsible for a giant billboard showing construction workers and their shadows has blown off whinges about the humorous advertising campaign.
The billboard, erected by Christchurch-based property developers Gillman Wheelans, advertises
constructions in West Melton, under the headline, Getting the job done .
However a local whinger thought the billboard was in bad taste and complained to the Advertising Standards Authority. A complaint read:
On the wall behind them, the advertiser has chosen to depict shadows cast by the workers. They have chosen to do this to look as though the woman worker is performing fellatio on the man. That was deeply offensive and was an
objectifying, demeaning sexualisation of women.
In a majority decision, the advert censor shot down the complaint. The double entendre with the shadow was acknowledged, but the risque image was described as subtle and
was covered by a provision in the industry code allowing for humour. The humour within the shadow did not meet the threshold of causing serious or widespread offence, the authority ruled.
Two TV ads and a cinema ad promoted a hostel company, Hostelworld:
a. The first ad featured young adults walking through a forest before jumping naked into an open water pool. One man jumped from the top of a high cliff into the pool.
b. A shorter version of the same
ad included the same scene of the man jumping into the pool.
c. The cinema ad was identical to ad (b).
Twenty complainants, who believed the ads depicted a practice known as tombstoning - jumping from cliffs into water - which they understood was very dangerous and could result in serious injury and death, challenged whether the
ads condoned or encouraged a dangerous practice.
Hostelworld.com Ltd said the ads did not depict or encourage the act of tombstoning , which they said was the dangerous practice of people jumping into water from cliffs or
other high points without prior knowledge of the potential dangers, such as the depth of the water, rocks below or strong currents in the water. They said the ad was filmed at the Ik Kil cenote in Mexico, a popular site of natural beauty which was open
to the public for swimming, and was part of a bigger complex for tourists. They said the cenote had signs which stated that the depth of the water was over 50 metres. They said many visitors jumped into the water from an elevated platform that had been
carved into the rock especially for that purpose, which was clearly depicted in the ad, along with the staircase used to climb up to it. They said that was intentional, and they felt it was a clear indication that the activity was safe and appropriate to
do in that area, unlike tombstoning which involved jumping into the unknown.
Responding in relation to ad (c), the Cinema Advertising Association said they were aware of the dangers of tombstoning and had frequently removed
such visuals from other advertising where they were shown as casual, spontaneous acts. They had taken the view that this was not the case in the Hostelworld ad. There were a number of elements that led them to believe that the tombstoning shown in
the ad would comply with the CAP Code. First, the participants shown were young adults, not children. Second, the group was shown jumping into the water from a ledge only three to four metres above the water level. Third, the individual who jumped from
the potentially dangerous height only did so after being visibly assured by the group already in the water that he could do so, as they would be aware of the adequate depth of the water in which they were swimming.
Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA understood that a number of people had been killed or seriously injured in the UK as a result of tombstoning , which involved jumping from cliffs or rocks into the sea, or other body of
water, without the use of safety equipment or precautions, and considered it was important that ads did not condone or encourage such an unsafe practice.
We understood that the cenote, or water sinkhole, depicted in the ads was
over 50 metres deep and was a tourist attraction at which jumpers were likely to be supervised. However, we considered that most viewers would not be familiar with the location, and noted that there was nothing in the ads themselves which demonstrated
the depth of the water, or that the group shown were being supervised. We noted that there did not appear to be anyone present other than those in the group, and considered that viewers would infer that the group were taking part in a spontaneous
activity with no supervision.
We considered that, in the shots of the group jumping together, it was clear that they were jumping from a reasonably low height. Further, there were steps carved into the rock leading to a ledge,
which suggested that it was a suitable place from which to jump. We noted that one of the jumpers was concerned about diving, but none of them seemed uncomfortable about jumping in. However, in the scene which showed the main male character jumping from
a much higher position, no steps or ledge were apparent. We considered that the length of the fall could have been dangerous, and that there was a risk of injury if the jump was emulated, particularly if it was done in a location which was not
specifically designed for such activities.
We noted that the man seemed apprehensive about jumping, but was encouraged to do so by the rest of the group, who shouted Jump, jump, jump! and beckoned with their hands. He
subsequently decided to jump, shouting as he fell. Once the man had jumped, the group was heard cheering, before he was hugged by one of them. In addition, he was shown speaking to a woman in the group, with whom he had shared a brief and awkward smile
prior to the jump. We considered that the encouragement from the group in response to his apprehension, and their subsequent reaction, suggested that the man's behaviour was brave and admirable, and that the group's respect for him had increased as a
result. Therefore, we considered that the man was being presented in a more positive light for having done something which might be considered dangerous.
For those reasons, we concluded that the ads were likely to condone or
encourage a dangerous practice.
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Hostelworld.com Ltd to ensure that future ads did not condone or encourage dangerous practices.
Lush cosmetics stores in Australia and New Zealand make a selling point of being handmade and with green credentials such as natural products and minimal packaging.
The company decided to emphasise these features in a Go Naked advertising
campaign. Featuring completely natural photos of four women's naked behinds, the images represent the company's use of as little packaging as possible. The ads features women of varying body shapes and sizes, including some of Lush's staff members. The
aim was to showcase real, beautiful, un-Photoshopped, unaltered women .
But the in-store posters have been reported as somehow pornographic . A few people have whinged to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) in Australia because
they claim the campaign is sexualised. The ASB has reported complaints claiming that the image is:
Pornographic in nature and shows naked woman touching other naked women and it is shown in a public place.
People have also expressed concern about children viewing the sexualised snaps, as they appear in public shopping centres.
Thankfully the ASB has ruled that the images were not pornographic or of a sexual nature. However,
the advert censors added:
The full body images and the fact that there are four women rather than an individual meant that the overall impact was increased and was confronting.
The poster has since
been removed from stores. However, the nude images are still being used on Lush's website and social media sites.
Klown Forever is a 2015 Denmark comedy by Mikkel Nørgaard. Starring Casper Christensen, Frank Hvam and Mia Lyhne.
Frank and Casper's friendship is put to a test, when Casper decides to leave
Denmark to pursue a solo career in Los Angeles. Determined to win his best friend back Frank chooses to follow Casper insuring an eventful trip.
The Danish comedy film Klovn Forever is a hit in the theatres but not everyone is
happy about a provocative image promoting the film in the public sphere.
The Danish film censor, the Media Council for Children and Young People (Medierådet), slammed the film as bordering on pornographic . The council described the film:
The film has a humorous mood that is dominated by sexualized language and contains a number of scenes with explicit and very direct sexual depictions. In several scenes adults are seen having intercourse in different
positions in many of the scenes are bordering on pornographic.
An image promoting the movie that features stars Casper Christiansen and Frank Hvam naked from the waste down and posed in the sexual position known as 69 has also
led to complaints one of which led to the poster being taken down from a bus stops in Aalborg. A complainer told TV 2 Nord:
I think it's a half-pornographic photo that is shoved in your face. When you are out in
public, the posters that are hanging at bus stops should be something acceptable for both children and adults to see.
One prude told the Ekstra Bladet newspaper:
I lost my sunglasses and almost
threw up when I saw the giant poster with the guys from Klovn hanging here in SÃ?Â¸borg. I'm normally not a prude ...BUT... this crossed the line. And you should also think about the children.
A complaint has now been
filed with the Danish Consumer Ombudsman (Forbrugerombudsmanden). However, the ad in question is still displayed throughout Denmark and tickets for Klovn Forever continue to sell briskly.