Two ads for www.rakuten.co.uk, an online retail website:
a. A display ad seen in March 2016 on bt.com featured a product called the UNT Two-Tone Mug and showed a picture of the mug, which had a dark blue C-shaped handle and the letters UNT printed in dark blue after it.
b. A source content widget that contained six ads run through the Taboola network, seen in March 2016, which appeared on a national news website, was headed More From The Web - Sponsored links by Taboola . Each ad linked through to the
advertiser's own website. One of the ads featured the same picture as ad (a) and included a link to Rakuten's website.
The ASA received two complaints.
1. Both complainants challenged whether ad (a) was likely to cause serious offence; and
2. One complainant challenged whether ad (b) was also likely to cause serious offence.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The complainants challenged whether the ads were offensive because they believed the ads featured an expletive. The ASA noted that although the full expletive had not been spelt out, it had used the handle of the mug to create the impression of the C
which was painted dark blue The handle matched the dark blue UNT letters on the mug, contrasting with the white background. We considered consumers would therefore understand that the intended meaning of the UNT letters placed next to the
C shaped handle was to spell CUNT , especially as the product was entitled the UNT Mug .
Ad (a) appeared on the bt.com website which featured content relating to BT's services and ad (b) appeared on a national news website, which included content on a large number of varying sectors and topics. We noted the content of the ads was therefore a
strong juxtaposition with the content of those websites. We considered a broad range of consumers were likely to visit the websites and concluded that in that context the clear allusions to the word cunt in the ads were likely to cause serious or
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Rakuten Europe S.Ã r.l to take care to ensure that ads that marketed products containing expletives or allusions to expletives did not appear in contexts in which they were likely to
cause serious or widespread offence.
Advert Censor ASA and CAP (who write the rules) have published their Annual Report covering 2015. They issued the following press release:
ASA and CAP Annual Report 2015: The balance is shifting 26 May 2016
Figures published today [Thursday 26 May] show the changing landscape of advertising regulation continues to be dominated by online ads, with the number of internet cases standing at over double those of the second most prolific
medium, TV (8,633 compared to 3,920). Meanwhile, the mass-viewing nature of TV ensured that ads on the box generated the greatest number of individual complaints from consumers (11,611), taking back the top spot from the Internet.
The league table was released today as part of our and the Committee of Advertising Practice's (CAP's) annual report. The report also shows how advertising regulation itself is changing, owing to a rebalancing from complaints-led
work towards more proactive interventions in markets where consumers are facing harm. Examples include a new approach to broadband pricing, sector-wide advice for osteopaths on how to advertise responsibly, and new guidance for vloggers on the disclosure
of paid-for endorsements.
Consequently, while the number of consumer complaints about ads declined by 7.9% to 29,554, 2015 was a record year in terms of the number of ads that were changed or withdrawn as a result of our regulation (4,584). While this figure
has risen 32% since 2014, it still represents only a small proportion of the overall advertising landscape -- data also published today suggests fewer members of the public saw problem ads in 2015 - 17%, down from 22% in 2013.
The report also shows which sectors and media received the most complaints during 2015. Notably, complaints about ads on public transport increased 153% - primarily owing to the high-profile and controversial Are you beach body
The most complained about sector was Leisure (films, DVDs, computer games, gambling), with 3,932 complaints about 2,530 cases. Meanwhile, the financial sector saw a 78% rise in complaints, driven primarily by the
Moneysupermarket.com ad featuring Dancing Dave , which was the most complained about ad of 2015.
Conversely, the alcohol sector saw complaints decline by 37% to just 118 about 90 ads.
Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the ASA said:
The ASA's ambition is to make every UK ad a responsible ad and recent changes show how our regulation is becoming more proactive and having more impact. Alongside our important work resolving consumer complaints, we've taken
proactive action in areas that make the biggest difference for the public. As well as the record number of ads changed or withdrawn, the volume of our compliance work has trebled to almost 5,500 cases.
The figures we've published today also show how protecting consumers, particularly children, online continues to be an urgent priority.
In 2016, we'll be implementing changes to broadband pricing, as well as examining gender discrimination in ads, and exploring ways to reduce children's exposure to ads for age-restricted products in social media.
After examining the campervan and applying the legal classification criteria, the Classification Office classified this campervan as Objectionable (banned).
Imagery on the campervan includes a peace symbol; the face of American beat poet, Allen Ginsberg and the text, Don't hide the madness ; the word Howl , the title of a famous Ginsberg poem; and a representation of Charles Manson and the
text, Make new friends. Join a cult .
First impressions of the campervan are likely to be of bright colours and large, eye-catching text and images.
However, large text on the back of the campervan reads Bukkake ruined my carpet! which inescapably confronts following vehicles.
The text on the back of the campervan is an expression of misogyny that degrades and dehumanises women. It is unlikely that many viewers will immediately recognise the term. However, satisfying curiosity as to its meaning requires no more than a quick
internet search. Bukkake is an established term describing a highly degrading, dehumanising and demeaning sexual practice that is depicted in pornography.
A classification of R18, which is consistent with other publications and would prevent access by children and young people, has been considered. However, the medium makes it impossible to protect children and young people without preventing the campervan
from being publicly available to anyone. The application of any of the available conditions in respect of public display is manifestly impracticable.
In classifying the campervan as objectionable, the Classification Office has also taken into account that those who rent the vans may be unwittingly criminalised if the owner considered that restricting their rental to persons 18 years and over meets the
conditions of an R18 classification. While the Office does not necessarily agree that the owner could contract out of their liability in this way, the classification of the campervan as objectionable removes all doubt as to its unsuitability for its
Posters for a gay history museum in Germany have been banned at railway stations due to supposed sexism.
Berlin's Schwules Museum, which is dedicated to LGBT history in the city, had launched a poster campaign for its Homosexualit_ies exhibit.. The ad features an androgynous model, shown bare-chested with a body builder's physique but wearing
Deutsche Bahn AG has now banned the poster from being shown in railway stations, although it was previously happy with the poster hen first used in 2015.
According to the Museum, the Deutsche Bahn's ad unit Media & Buch decreed that that the poster fails to meet the guidelines of the German Council of Advertisement (Deutscher Werberat) because it is sexualized and sexist . A
statement from the Museum added:
Confronted with this somewhat contradictory behavior, the Deutsche Bahn replied that the poster must have accidently 'slipped through' in 2015, and that the German public has meanwhile become more sensitive about 'sexism'.
New South Wales Premier Mike Baird has rejected calls to ban humerous slogans on the Wicked Campervans fleet, saying:
I don't think it's something that the state government should be getting involved in.
The statement was in response to local councillor Duncan Dey who wanted to wipe the usually sexist slogans off the vans or ban them from council caravan parks. Dey proposed the erection of signs saying Van drivers, your wicked slogan is
not welcome in Byron Shire could be erected at Byron Shire entry points, and the vans could be banned from council caravan parks.
Meanwhile the annual Australian music festival Splendour in the Grass , held near Byron Bay, has also taken a stand against the campervans. The festival website says:
If you're booking a campervan, please steer clear of sexist slogans! You know who you are. It's 2016, get with the program!!,
Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm said councils and wowsers in northern NSW should leave Wicked alone. He said:
Personally, I find authoritarians disguised as hippies or feminists far more offensive than any slogan on the back of a van, but I don't seek to ban them.
Dating website Match.com have apologised for saying freckles were imperfections. A few
politically correct commuters on London Underground whinged that the adverts were a form of 'body shaming'
One of the adverts showed a freckled face with the by-line:
If you don't like your imperfections, somebody else will.
However the number of official complaints was pretty negligible with the Guardian reporting that 6 complaints were sent to the advert censor, ASA.
A Match.com spokeswoman told The Huffington Post that the Love Your Imperfections campaign was meant to [celebrate] perceived physical and behavioral imperfections and encourage everyone to be proud of their individuality.
A kissing scene has been censored from a new Coca-Cola TV advert for audiences in Kenya following complaints it was somehow unsuitable for family viewing.
The advertisement, part of Coca-Cola's ongoing Taste the Feeling campaign, wound up some of the easily offended. Kenya's Film Classification Board (KFCB) explained that the ad caused a public outcry from viewers who took issue with the
offensive scenes involving kissing, violating family values.
An edited version that drops the scene will start running on Wednesday evening in Kenya after discussions between the censors and local reps of the Coca Cola company.
Coca-Cola's new campaign is being rolled out worldwide this year, depicting a diverse cross-section of people from around the world enjoying 'their' Coca-Cola in simple, everyday moments. One of the commercials features a montage of good-looking
characters engaged in various activities with a frosty Coca-Cola in hand, including the scene in question of a young couple having a steamy everyday moment whilst kissing in a library.
Still images that appeared at the end of a video for the fashion brand Guccio Gucci SpA, seen on www.thetimes.co.uk on 15 December 2015, featured several models dancing to a soundtrack. The final part of the ad featured several photos of individual
models. Image (a) featured a woman leaning with her back to a wall and was wearing a long dress which covered her body from the neck down to her mid-calves including her arms. Image (b) featured another model who was sitting on a sofa. She was wearing a
high necked jacket and a skirt which covered her down to her mid-thighs.
A complainant, who believed the featured models appeared unhealthily thin, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible.
Guccio Gucci SpA said that the ads were part of a video that portrayed a dance party and was aimed at an older, sophisticated audience. They noted that the target population of The Times, where the ad appeared, had an adult and mature readership. They
said it was, to some extent, a subjective issue as to whether a model looked unhealthily thin. which they considered was not the case for either of the women identified by the complainant. They believed both models had slim builds. but were not depicted
in a way that could be interpreted as unhealthily thin. For example, nowhere in the ads were any models' bones visible, their makeup was natural rather than heavy (which might have accentuated the impression of thinness), lighting was uniform and
warm to ensure there were no hollows caused by shadows and their clothes were not revealing. The visual parts of their bodies appeared toned and slim.
ASA Assessment; Complaint upheld
The ASA noted that the model seated on the sofa wore a short skirt which showed her legs up to her mid thighs. We noted that her legs, while slim, appeared to be generally in proportion with the rest of her body which was not excessively slender or
underweight -- for example, her knee and ankle bones were not overly noticeable. We therefore considered that the model did not appear to be unhealthily thin.
We noted that the model leaning against the wall was wearing a long dress so that only her lower legs, ankles, neck and head were visible. We considered that her torso and arms were quite slender and appeared to be out of proportion with her head and
lower body. Further, her pose elongated her torso and accentuated her waist so that it appeared to be very small. We also considered that her sombre facial expression and dark make up, particularly around her eyes, made her face look gaunt. For those
reasons, we considered that the model leaning against the wall appeared to be unhealthily thin in the image, and therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Guccio Gucci SpA to ensure that the images in their ads were prepared responsibly.