Two poster ads displayed on bus shelters, for the clothing brand Nobody's Child, seen in November 2015:
a. One ad featured a female model wearing a black jumpsuit and heeled shoes, sitting on the arm of a sofa with one leg bent in front of her resting on the sofa and her arms in a relaxed position. She was looking at the camera. Text stated nobody'schild.com
b. The other ad featured the same model wearing a tartan dress, sitting on a chair facing towards the camera. One leg was slightly raised. Text stated nobody'schild.com .
The ASA received three complaints.
The complainants, who believed the poses and facial expressions of the model sexualised someone who they considered appeared to be a child, challenged whether the ads were irresponsible and offensive.
One complainant additionally challenged whether the ads were irresponsible and offensive because they believed the images, in conjunction with the brand name Nobody's Child , implied the images were of a vulnerable child.
1. & 2. Nobody's Child Ltd t/a nobody'schild.com said they appreciated that visual imagery was open to personal interpretation, but considered the model in the ads was not sexualised and would not be perceived as being a child or vulnerable. They
said the model was 21 years old and they had chosen not to style her in heavy makeup or bright lipstick in order to avoid projecting any kind of vulgarity.
They said the name Nobody's Child was intended to reflect the feeling their target audience experienced, that they were no longer children and were now their own person. They said the name was, therefore, recognition that their target audience had
reached an age where they could make their own decisions and be their own people, rather than conveying vulnerability.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA noted that while the model was fully clothed in both ads, in ad (a) her breast was partially exposed. She leaned casually against a wall with one leg resting up on a sofa armrest, and looked directly into the camera with her mouth partially open.
In ad (b) she sat in an over-sized chair with one leg slightly raised and her hands loosely clasped together, looking directly toward the camera. We considered that her poses and gaze in both ads were mildly sexually suggestive, and that her pose in ad
(b) in particular also suggested vulnerability.
We understood the model featured in the ads was 21 years of age but considered she appeared younger, and that when shown in conjunction with the prominent brand name nobody'schild.com , would be regarded as appearing to be a child. In that
context, we considered that the model's poses implied vulnerability and sexual precocity. We therefore concluded the ads portrayed a model who appeared to be a child in a way that was sexually suggestive and could be perceived as being vulnerable. We
concluded that the ads were irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Nobody's Child Ltd t/a nobody'schild.com to ensure the images used in their ads, particularly when presented in conjunction with their brand name, did not sexualise those who appeared to be a
child and depict them as being vulnerable.
Australia's Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has banned an ad by Fantastic Framing for supposedly perpetuating sexism and violence. The picture framing shop had put a witty sign outside of the shop saying:
We can shoot your wife and frame your mother-in-law. If you want we can hang them too.
A complainant who saw the advertisement outside of the store window whinged it is sexist and violent .
The ASB says while the spot makes reference to female family members it is not sexist, explaining that advertisers are free to depict or make reference to whomever they wish in their advertisements . The board adds that stereotyping mothers-in-law
is a common part of cultural narrative in Australia and therefore acceptable.
However the board determines the advertisement does portray violence that is unjustifiable in the context advertised. The board said:
The intended humour has now worn off and the double meaning of the advertisement is not relevant in contemporary society given the high level of community concern with regards to violence towards women.
The majority of the board acknowledged that the advertiser's intent was to inject humour in to the ad but considered that making a joke about using a gun or hanging a person would not be found funny by most members of the community, the board says.
New Zealand police have asked New Zealand censors to consider the unpolitically correct advertising slogans painted on rental vans from the company Wicked Campervans.
Chief Censor Andrew Jack said:
I can confirm that we have received a submission in respect of some of the Wicked campervans from the police, and we'll be working through the classification process and testing those publications against the criteria in the Films, Videos, and
Publications Act to determine whether or not they need to be age restricted or might be objectionable.
This is the first time a publication, in respect of Wicked Campers, has been submitted to us.
We have to make sure that if something is going to be restricted or banned, you have to try to take into account the fact that people do have a right to freedom of expression, and it is a big deal to ban or restrict something.
Jack said the censorship process would take about a month.
Associate Minister of Tourism Paula Bennett told Morning Report she would not rule out legislating against the company, but would rather the Chief Censor dealt with the problem. She whinged:
I'm pretty determined to find an avenue to close these slogans down.
Family First NZ launched a campaign two weeks ago whingeing at Wicked Campersfor supposedly offensive advertisements and messages on their vehicles.
Family First NZ welcomed comments by National MP Dr Shane Reti in Parliament when he said:
New Zealanders from all over the country are writing to Associate Minister for Tourism, the Hon Paula Bennett, and to me complaining about the filthy signage on Australian campervan firm Wicked Campers. The Minister and I have spoken and to Wicked
Campers I say this: Your offensive signage is unacceptable. Your disgusting degrading of women and children is unacceptable. Your signage is an affront to public decency and no parent including me should have to explain it to their children. High-quality
tourism is what this Government and what New Zealanders are investing in. So Wicked Campers-respect New Zealand's advertising standards or go home, because New Zealanders deserve better than your garbage.
Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ spouted:
Many families have been offended by the offensive signs on Wicked Campers that travel around NZ but have felt powerless to stop them. This campaign will focus on complaints being made to the local Council that the signage breaches the signage bylaws in
The Advertising Standards Authority has made 13 rulings against Wicked Campers, and has expressed disappointment at its refusal to respect the principles of self-regulation. Police expressed concerns about a Wicked rental van that depicts Snow White
smoking a crack pipe and tells people to enjoy the class A drug.
We would argue that any public advertising should be G-rated and suitable for children to view. It is vital that families continue to speak up rather than accept offensive material and the sexualisation of girls and women in the media and on billboards
Dutch menswear label, Suit Supply, received a bit of a PC backlash on social media this week after releasing its Spring 2016 campaign featuring suited men posing against a backdrop of bikini clad women.
The campaign, dubbed Toy Boys , launched last Tuesday featuring a look book of images that all vary on the same theme: a suited man posing with a large-scale bikini-clad woman as the backdrop.
Although some have praised the campaign's innovative approach, but some have accused it of having misogynistic undertones\.
The accompanying Suit Supply press release states:
Sometimes it seems like it's a woman's world these days, and we just live in it.
So what's a guy to do? You're a modern gentleman, but the tables have turned. You have a certain way with the ladies...that is, until they have their way with you. You're a playboy, but what happens when the playboy becomes the plaything?
A few people whinged Twitter to voice their 'outrage'. One man tweeted yo @suitsupply are you selling suits or misogyny this season? whilst another tweeted wow @suitsupplies, your latest campaign is terrible in so many ways #everydaysexism .
Meanwhile an Amsterdam billboard was defaced by covering it with 'outraged' messages and sanitary towels.
The advert censors at ASA have published 2015's Top 10 most complained about ads
ASA notes that while these ads drew complaints about harm and offence, 75% of its caseload is made up of complaints about misleading ads. Guy Parker, ASA Chief Executive, said
Our Top 10 for 2015 will no doubt get people talking about whether the ads are or aren't offensive, but there are important issues at stake here. Advertisers must take care not to cause serious or widespread offence, but we don't play a number's game.
And while matters of offence can grab the headlines, the bulk of our work is the less glamorous task of tackling misleading advertising. That's why we're taking a more proactive approach to address the issues which affect consumers the most before
complaints need to be made.
2015's most complained about ads are:
1. Moneysupermarket.com Ltd
1,513 complaints -- Not upheld
A TV and internet ad featured a man walking down a street and dancing whilst wearing denim shorts and high heeled shoes. We received complaints that the ad was offensive. Many complainants thought this was due to the man's clothing and dance moves
and because they believed the content was overtly sexual. While acknowledging that some viewers might have found the ad distasteful, we did not judge the ad to be offensive and in breach of the Code.
2. Booking.com BV
683 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. We 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 the ad 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. Paypal (UK) Ltd
464 complaints -- Not upheld
Two children in Paypal's Christmas ad which appeared on TV and Video-on-Demand (VOD) were worried that their parents hadn't been shopping for Christmas Presents. Complaints expressed concern that the ad revealed the truth about Father Christmas. We did
not uphold the complaints. Independently, Paypal changed the scheduling of its commercial.
4. Booking.com BV
407 complaints -- Not upheld
Complainants found this TV ad featuring a man sitting on a boat before jumping off and swimming ashore, offensive due to its use of the word "booking". Consistent with the previous ruling, we judged that the content of the ad was a light
hearted play on words that couldn't be mistaken for an actual swear word and that the ad did not break the advertising rules.
5. Protein World Ltd
380 complaints - Not upheld
Before investigating complaints that a poster featuring a woman in a bikini was offensive, the ASA told Protein World that, due its ASA's concerns about a range of health and weight loss claims, the ad could not appear again in its current form. The ASA
concluded, however, that that ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
6. British Heart Foundation
219 complaints -- Not upheld
We received complaints about a British Heart Foundation TV, VOD and cinema ad which showed a boy sitting in a classroom talking to his dad who had died from a heart attack. Complainants considered the ad to be distressing for adults and children to see.
We noted that the ad had been scheduled to not appear around children's programming. We also recognised that some people might find the ad upsetting but judged it was unlikely to cause widespread distress.
7. Booking.com BV
201 complaints -- Not upheld
Booking.com's TV and VOD ad showed a story of a couple who met at a hotel. Complainants thought the word "booking" in the ad had been substituted in place of a swear word and thought it was offensive. Consistent with our previous decisions, we
judged that the content of the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
8. Department of Health
181 complaints -- Not upheld
A TV and VOD ad, which was part of an anti-smoking campaign from Public Health England, showed a man rolling a cigarette, which had blood and flesh inside it. A poster ad also showed a cigarette which contained flesh. We received complaints that the ads
were graphic and gruesome and were therefore offensive and irresponsible. We acknowledged that some people might find the ads unsettling but noted that they also contained an important health message. We concluded that the ads were unlikely to cause
serious or widespread offence.
9. Nicocigs Ltd
145 complaints -- Not upheld
We received complaints about a TV ad for an electronic cigarette. Many objected that the advertising of e-cigarettes was allowed and many thought the ad was appealing to children. Strict advertising rules for e-cigarettes were introduced in 2014
following a public consultation. We also noted that the ad wasn't scheduled around programming that was likely to appeal to children and the ad's style was not appealing to them. On that basis we judged that the ad did not break the advertising rules.
10. Omega Pharma Ltd
136 complaints -- Upheld (this figure relates to 2015 complaints only, more complaints were received in 2016)
A TV, YouTube and VOD ad for XLS Medical, a slimming aid, featured two women exchanging text messages before heading on holiday. After seeing a photo of her friend who had lost weight, the other woman in the ad was unhappy about not being able to fit
into her holiday wardrobe. We banned the ad because it presented an irresponsible approach to body image and confidence.
Two posters for a noodle bar seen on a train on 19 October and at a train station on 13 November featured text that stated, GET YOUR NOODLE ON! FIRST TUESDAY OF EVERY MONTH FOUR DELICIOUS NOODLE BASED DISHES . The posters also showed two slogans
with text that stated PHAT PHUC ...THE HANOI BIKE SHOP .
The ASA received complaints from two members of the public:
one complainant objected that the ad was offensive because it featured a slogan, which when spoken sounded like a swearword; and
one complainant objected that the ad was inappropriate for public display where children could see it because it featured a slogan that sounded like a swearword when spoken.
Hanoi Bike Shop stated that they were a Vietnamese canteen and that Phat Phuc was the name of an event that had been running since March 2015 and was also used for naming some of their noodle dishes. They clarified that Phat Phuc in Vietnamese was
pronounced Fet Fook and meant Happy Buddha.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA understood that the word happy in Vietnamese was correctly spelt as Phuc and although it was pronounced as Fook, we acknowledged that it sounded similar to the expletive fuck.
However, we noted that the Hanoi Bike Shop sold Far Eastern cuisine, which both posters had made sufficiently clear. In the context of the posters, we considered that viewers who might have been offended by bad language were likely to recognise that Phuc
was from a reference to Southeast Asian language, was different from the expletive and would not necessarily be pronounced in the same way. We therefore, concluded that the posters were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
2. Not upheld
As mentioned above, we acknowledged that while the expletive had not been used, the two words, depending on the pronunciation, might sound similar. However, we considered that younger children who were unlikely to comprehend that Phuc was a Vietnamese
word were also unlikely to read or pronounce it as the expletive. While some older children might have pronounced it as the expletive, given the context of an ad for a Vietnamese restaurant and that the word was taken from this language we did not
consider that this made it unsuitable for them to see. We therefore concluded that the posters were not irresponsibly placed where children could see them.