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2011: Jan-March

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30th March   

Modern Puritans...

MP tables 10 minute rule bill to have a rant about alcohol
Link Here

Tory backbencher Dr Sarah Wollaston will put forward a private member's bill to restrict children from alcohol marketing.

Wollaston believes that a repressive French law known as Loi Evin could be adapted for the UK. She will put forward the proposal as a 10-minute rule bill.  This allows her to make a speech in Parliament, although the process rarely leads to legislation being passed but is instead a chance to raise awareness about an issue.

The British Medical Association and university 'experts' said the move would go a long way to protect children.

The French legislation was introduced in 1991 and totally bans alcohol promotion through mediums such as television and social media.

Professor Gerard Hastings, a social marketing expert at Stirling University, told the British Medical Journal the law had helped to reduce alcohol consumption in France. Removing this profoundly unhealthy influence is, unsurprisingly, recognised as a key public health priority. So along with their cafe culture, the Loi Evin is a French innovation that the UK needs.

David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, which represents the drinks industry, said: The UK already has some of the strictest rules in place to prevent alcohol being marketed to children or in a way that might appeal to them. The call for a French-style advertising ban is entirely unfounded.


23rd March   

Update: ASA Pickle...

ASA wrong to choose gay rights over christian anti-gay nonsense and free speech
Link Here
Full story: ASA church sodomy advert...Court challenge over sodmy advert censure

A church in Northern Ireland, which had a newspaper ad banned for using the biblical word sodomy , has had the ban overturned in the High Court.

ASA, the UK advert censor banned the ad in 2008, but the court said banning the ad was a breach of the church's rights to free speech.

The judge, Justice Treacy, said the ad quoted well-known passages of the Bible and constituted a genuine attempt to stand up for the church's beliefs.

Justice Treacy said:

Whilst such views and scriptural references may be strongly disdained and considered seriously offensive by some, this does not justify the full scope of the restrictions contained in the impugned determination.

The judge also said the ad must be read in context. He pointed out that at the previous year's Gay Pride march a banner stating Jesus is a fag was carried, uninterrupted, by one of the participants. He also said the advertisement did not condone and was not likely to provoke violence .

Rev David McIlveen described the decision as a landmark ruling, meaning that scripture could be quoted freely.

In 2008 Sandown Free Presbyterian Church placed an advert in the Belfast News Letter calling on people to meet in a gospel witness against the act of sodomy . The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received seven complaints about the advert and banned any further publication with the comment:

The ASA noted the ad prominently stated Published by the Kirk Session of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church and recognised that readers would understand that the text was representative of the beliefs of a specific group and indicative of their opinion only. We considered, however, that some of the text used in relation to homosexuality, for example, ... declaring it to be an abomination ... , . .. God's judgement upon a sin ... , . .. remove the guilt of their wrongdoing ... , ... a cause for regret that a section of the community desire to be known for a perverted form of sexuality ... , went further than the majority of readers were likely to find acceptable.

We considered that particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of sexual orientation, and concluded that this ad had caused serious offence to some readers.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency) but did not breach 8.1 (Matters of opinion).


23rd March   

Awesome Censorship...

ASA whinge at revealing bikini in a lad's holiday competition advert
Link Here

A prize promotion, displayed in the window of an Officers Club shop, stated WIN A LADS HOLIDAY TO AYIA NAPA . It featured two photographs. One showed three girls smiling at the camera and was labelled Ayia Napa 2011 . The second photo showed a woman from the neck to the waist wearing a small bikini top and was labelled Awesome Views . Text below stated START 2011 WITH A BANG! .

1. Five complainants challenged whether the image of a woman's body in combination with the label Awesome Views was offensive, because they believed it objectified women.

2. Five complainants also challenged whether the ad was inappropriately placed where it could be seen by children.

Officers Club 1979 explained that the ad had appeared in all their stores throughout the United Kingdom. They acknowledged they had received a very small number of complaints and explained that these complaints had been resolved by removing part of the imagery.

They said the ad had been targeted at fashion conscious young males in the 16 - 30 age group... and that the images were chosen to reflect the nature of a so called 'lads' holiday to Ayia Napa ... and to attract the attention of our core consumer .

They acknowledged that the images were mildly provocative, but did not consider them to be indecent. They said that it was not their intention for the ad to cause offence.

ASA Assessment: 1. & 2. Upheld

The ASA acknowledged that the ad was a prize promotion related to a lads holiday. We considered that the sole focus on the womans chest, in conjunction with the text Awesome views , was likely to be seen as gratuitous and to objectify women. We considered that the image was likely to cause serious offence to some and was not suitable to be displayed in an untargeted medium where it could be seen by children.

The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), 4.1 (Harm and offence) and 8.6 and 8.7 (Protection of consumers, safety and suitability)


21st March   

Holy Fuck!...

ASA suffer 'widespread offence' from a gig listing in the Guardian
Link Here

An ad for music gigs, in the Guide section of the Guardian, was headlined with the name of the band HOLYFUCK . The ad also featured a picture of the band, tour dates and booking information.

One complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive and inappropriate for use in a supplement that was likely to be seen by children.

Kilimanjaro Live said Holy Fuck were a Canadian band and that Kilimanjaro had been the bands live promoter in the UK for about 12 months.

Kilimanjaro said the Guide was specifically chosen as it was an industry standard weekly going-out guide that was a hugely successful form of advertising for them. They believed the Guide was an acceptable place to advertise a band with that name because it was an adult oriented entertainment guide aimed at teens and older. They said it was common for editorial in the Guide to contain the word fuck uncensored.

Kilimanjaro said they accepted that the name of the band created potential issues but believed the bands music lent itself to the use of such a controversial word in their name and argued that they had a justifiable right to use the word in the way in which they did. Kilimanjaro said the band were not a controversial act and their name had been used on many gig posters, flyers and tour ads in the time that Kilimanjaro had been working with them without any complaints except the one received by the ASA.

The Guardian said they carefully scrutinised all advertising copy prior to publication and had decided to accept the ad. They argued that the Guide was clearly targeted at a young adult audience who were very unlikely to be shocked by the language in the ad and pointed out that swearwords could also sometimes be found in the Guides editorial content. They believed it was impossible for the band to promote themselves without using their full name.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA noted that the word HOLYFUCK was the name of the advertised band and we also noted that the Guide was targeted at older teens and adults. However, we considered that, because it was placed in an entertainment listings supplement to a national newspaper, the ad was likely to be seen by a wide variety of readers including children. We considered, in that context, that the name HOLYFUCK was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to some readers. [how does it cause 'widespread' offence to just  'some' readers. Sounds like the censors are twisting their own rules]

The ad breached CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).


19th March   

Get an Enlivened Life...

Complaints about Swedish adverts for extra-marital dating service
Link Here

A new Swedish website which challenges individuals to dabble in infidelity in order to help them cope with dull, lifeless relationships has been reported to the advertising ombudsman.

Married travellers waiting for buses in Stockholm are currently being confronted with the challenge Are you married? Liven up your life - have an affair in the form of a billboard campaign from Norwegian firm Victoria Milan.

But criticism of the firm's business idea and advertising message has quickly followed the weekend campaign launch, with the Swedish Advertising Ombudsman (Reklamombudsmannen) having already received complaints.

Many visitors to the firm's Facebook page are openly scathing in their criticism of the Victoria Milan business model: You are the sickest firm I have ever experienced. You are a disgrace to Swedish business... that you encourage infidelity (with all the consequences for couples and not least their children), one person wrote.

Despite the heated response from some quarters, Sigurd Vedal CEO of Victoria Milan is unrepentant: We are a dating site which is very clear and direct, in contrast to many other sites out there. In a very competitive market one has to be clear with one's message and target group .


19th March   

Censorship Billboard...

Australia review of outdoor advertising considers state censorship
Link Here

The chairman of Australia's federal government inquiry into outdoor advertising says if tougher rules are needed, the possibilities include ratings by the Film Classification Board.

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) is gearing up for a fight. It said any kind of classification system for outdoor advertisements would add an unnecessary and burdensome layer of compliance .

The AANA's chief executive, Scott McClellan, said the present system of self-regulation was the most efficient, flexible and cost-effective means of ensuring that advertising continued to meet community expectations.

But the chairman of the government inquiry, Graham Perrett, said while the AANA had some good guidelines in place, not everyone who put up an ad was a member of the AANA and there were plenty of cowboys in the industry: Not every billboard you see goes through those checks and balances. Some advertisers push the boundaries to get attention .

Perrett said because outdoor advertising spanned federal, state and local jurisdictions, regulation was complex but not impossible. He said theoretically the Film Classification Board could classify billboards.

Perrett said the inquiry aimed to report back to the government by the end of June, following public hearings in Sydney and Melbourne.

Meanwhile, the AANA is reviewing its code of ethics.


13th March   

Comment: If You're Not Easily Offended, For God's Sake Say So...

Railways refuse to carry adverts calling for non-religious people to say so on their census forms
Link Here

This is one from a series of British Humanist Association adverts intended for 4-sheet placement at train stations in March 2011.

They were rejected by the rail companies working in franchise partnership with our media agency. The reason given for this was that the advertising was of a religious nature and risks offending, in their opinion, either with our original for God's sake slogan or with alternative slogans we offered.

The Committee of Advertising Practice advised against running ads with the for God's sake slogan but our media agency agreed to run an alternate slogan on buses only. Our redeveloped slogan will appear on buses in towns and cities across the UK and reads: Not Religious?: In this year's census say so


See  article from

The religious think tank Theos has criticised a new humanist advertising campaign telling people to tick no religion on the census form, saying it is misconceived and unnecessary .

The think tank said people had ample opportunity to deny any religious affiliation if they wanted to, and that humanist claims that respondents are funnelled... into giving a religious response are simply untrue .

Commenting on the campaign, Paul Bickley, Senior Researcher at Theos said the humanists were doing a good job of keeping religion in the news but added that there was clearly a mistake with this campaign:

The campaign grossly exaggerates the extent to which the religious affiliation results of the 2001 census have shaped government policy or influenced spending decisions.

In any case, the British people are quite capable of judging for themselves what box they should tick. They don't need to be told.

Offsite Comment: For God's sake, stop censoring ads

12th March 2011. See  article from by Tim Black

The effective banning of UK humanist adverts that dared to mention the G-word confirms that protecting hurt feelings now trumps free speech.

This particular ban involved a set of British Humanist Association (BHA) adverts featuring the slogan, If you're not religious, for God's sake say so . The reason for this rather oblique command is that the BHA wants people in the UK to respond to the 2011 UK census question What is your religion? by ticking the box marked no religion .

Unfortunately for the BHA, the owners of advertising space in UK rail stations, aided and abetted by advice from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice, have not only correctly discerned a religious nature to the BHA's campaign, they have also decided that such ads are likely to cause widespread and serious offence . And where there's offence to be caused, censorship is sure to follow.

...Read the full article

Offsite Comment: We are not yet in a country which has to protect religious sensitivities at all costs

13th March 2011. See  article from

So the British Humanist Association ads with the headline If You're Not Religious for God's Sake Say So , urging people to tick the no religion box on the census, have been banned because the people who own the advertising space in railway stations think they will cause serious and widespread offence . I mean, Christ on a bike!

...Read the full article


5th March   

Warming to Graffiti...

Defacement of classic art billboard amuses Minneapolis museum
Link Here

A billboard for a Minneapolis museum has been replaced after someone spray-painted a top and the word Brrr! in red over its depiction of classic nudity from a 16th-century painting.

 The poster is for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts' exhibition of works by the Italian master Titian. The museum chose to feature the famous Venus Rising from the Sea painting on the billboard because it's very typical of paintings in the show, said MIA spokeswoman Anne-Marie Wagener.

The billboard that was vandalized has been restored to its previous condition, despite objections from museum officials. We said 'We think it's funny, just leave it, don't bother replacing it,' Wagener said Thursday.

But she said Clear Channel Outdoor, the company that owns the billboard, has a policy that ads with graffiti must be taken down so as not to encourage vandalism.

The museum has fielded about 10 calls from 'angry' passers-by who said they weren't comfortable seeing nudity outside of the museum, said MIA marketing director Kristin Prestegaard. Some people said it forced them to talk to their children about nudity in art, a conversation they weren't ready to have.

Both Prestegaard and Wagener said they think whoever did the graffiti was probably just trying to be funny, not censor the image. It would be different if the words 'Brrr!' weren't there and they hadn't given her such a nice, shapely swimsuit, Wagener said. I mean, if you were angry, why would you make it kind of pretty?


2nd March   

Abortion Poster Aborted...

Suddenly the catholic church gets all anti-censorship
Link Here

After the removal of a billboard in New York City which charged that abortion makes a mother's womb the most dangerous place for African Americans, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan condemned the move as an intolerant gag order.

Likening the ad to anti-smoking campaigns that show the graphic affects of nicotine addiction or world hunger organizations that show pictures of starving children, the New York archbishop said that being confronted by the truth can often be unpleasant. Dolan said that the removed ad is so upsetting because its message is somberly true.

The billboard, sponsored by the group Life Always depicted a young black girl beneath the phrase The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.

Pete Costanza, the general manager for Lamar Advertising, said the billboard was being taken down because an objector to the billboard harassed the waiters and waitresses in the Mexican restaurant below the sign. The restaurant has no affiliation with the billboard company or the pro-life group.


1st March   

Dubious Claims...

ASA make claims that they can extend their advertising censorship the internet
Link Here

From 1 March, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) gets powers to police the claims companies make on websites and social networks. The rules cover statements on sites that can be interpreted as marketing, even if they are not in an advert.

Extending the UK advertising code to non paid-for statements means that these, like paid-for adverts, must not harm, mislead or offend.

Since 2008, the advert censor has received more than 4,500 complaints concerning text on websites that it could do nothing about.

While aimed primarily at sites using the domain suffix, the ASA said its powers could also cover .com sites, such as Facebook, if the online space being used was under the control of a UK firm.

However, the transient nature of online content may make the rules difficult to police, according to Vincent-Wayne Mitchell, professor of consumer marketing at London's Cass Business School: I could have an advert up on the internet for a week or for an hour, cause widespread confusion, get sales from that, and then withdraw it. The only punishment that the ASA has is withdrawal, but I can have that as part of my own marketing strategy.

User-generated content, such as comments left by customers on a website, will not be covered by the extended powers.

To encourage firms to comply, the ASA said it would extend a name-and-shame policy which will expose firms that make unsupportable claims. Further sanctions for offenders could see non-compliant material removed from search engines. The ASA said it might also take out adverts to warn people about companies that do not comply with the code.

In anticipation of the extra work it will have to do, the ASA has expanded the number of staff in its complaints and investigations unit by 10%.


23rd February   

Whingers Silenced...

Achmed the Dead Terrorist ringtone advert not racist
Link Here

A TV ad for Fox Mobile ringtones featured the American ventriloquist, Jeff Dunham, with his dummy, Achmed, the Dead Terrorist . The ringtones used some of the phrases from Dunham's act which included Silence! I kill you , Stop touching me and Knock, knock. Who's there? Me. I kill you .

A viewer challenged whether the ad was offensive because he believed it was racist towards Muslims.

ASA Assessment: Not upheld

The ASA understood that the ad featured the puppet Achmed, the Dead Terrorist, which was a well-known part of Jeff Dunhams ventriloquism act.

We understood that that particular comedy act touched on the theme of terrorism and we also understood that there would be viewers who found the puppet character and comedy theme of terrorism distasteful or offensive. However, we noted that at no time did the ad make any reference to terrorism or the Islamic faith. We also noted that, whilst the ad showed some footage of the act, its emphasis was on the phrases Silence! I kill you, Stop touching me and Knock, knock, whos there? Me, I kill you which were available to download as mobile phone ringtones. Whilst we understood that some viewers might find those ringtones distasteful, we considered that the content of the ad accurately reflected the nature of the product being advertised. Because the ad itself contained no direct reference to terrorism or the Muslim religion, we concluded the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.


16th February   

Focking Whingers...

TV 3 get away with the word 'fucking' on grounds that it is less 'offensive' in Denmark
Link Here

A TV ad for TDC, a telecommunications provider, featured a man and a woman dressed in nude suits. The woman sang a song in Danish, the lyrics of which included the phrase ... jag er sa* fucking stolt ... . Issue

One viewer, who saw the ad on TV3 Denmark, thought the ad contained the word fucking and the swearing was offensive.

TDC said the ad was part of a long running and well-known humorous campaign, introduced in Denmark in September 2009, based around three famous comedic actors playing the roles of a middle-aged married couple and their neighbour. The husband and wife were naturists. The neighbour had no phone, Internet or TV and the couple's aim was to get him updated on telecommunications. The campaign had been rolled out on national Danish TV as an ongoing series of ads.

Viasat Broadcasting UK provided a translation of the ad and the song it contained. They said the phrase identified by the complainant, Det idag vi fejrer slverfest, jag er s fucking stolt , translated into English as It is today we celebrate our silver anniversary, I'm so damn proud . Viasat argued that the English word fucking had become part of the Danish language as a slang word, it had lost some of its original English meaning and with it its level of offence, and the pronunciation of it had even changed to focking , to sound more Danish. They (as bilingual Danish and English speakers) did not believe fucking was the correct Danish translation of the word in the context of the ad. They said the word was not used in the ad in a negative, offensive or hurtful way, but was intended to emphasize how proud the wife was of her husband, and was more akin to the milder term damn . They continued that the word fucking was used as a Danish word in a Danish sentence in the ad, and should not be seen as having the same meaning or connotations as the word fucking might have in the UK. Although it was a swear word, fucking was used as an expression in both positive and negative situations and they did not believe it would be considered offensive in Denmark, although they appreciated that if the ad had been broadcast to a UK audience, some viewers might have found the word offensive. Viasat believed that, although the Danish population had a good understanding of English, they would associate the word fucking with its mild Danish meaning.

ASA Assessment: Not upheld

The ASA understood that fucking , although a swear word in Danish, was much milder than, and did not have the same offensive connotations as, the word fucking in English. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to viewers in Denmark.

We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.


16th February   

The 1958 Beer Riots...

New Zealand beer advert banned for looking like a real historical documentary
Link Here

A beer commercial which looked too much like a historical documentary has been criticised by New Zealand's Advertising Standards Complaints Board and the version will be barred from broadcast.

The television and cinema campaign supported a relaunch of Dominion Breweries' DB Export branded beer by telling the story of former DB brewer Morton Coutts' attempt to brew the world's best beer in New Zealand.

A complainant objected to the use of real footage of the 1951 waterfront dispute to illustrate violent protests that the advertisement says took place after Arnold Nordemeyer's Black Budget of 1958.

A majority of the complaints board considered the television and cinema advertisements to be in a documentary type style, achieved by the use of the contrasting black and white screen-shots, the music, and the accompanying authoritative narration . When coupled with the use of the actual footage of the riots, from a different historical event, the ad gave the impression that the advertisements were portraying a credible and realistic depiction of history , said the board's decision.

The majority of the complaints board was of the view that the television and cinema advertisements ... were likely to mislead and deceive consumers given the realistic and accurate depiction of history conveyed in the advertisements.


15th February   

Whipped into Shape...

Australian nutters whinge at fitness centre billboard
Link Here

A billboard promoting a fitness centre featuring the bottom of a whip-wielding woman has been slammed as sexist, led to complaints and 'polarised' the community.

The Advertising Standards Bureau will review the billboard. Bureau communications manager Alison Abermethy said a number of complaints had been received about the Health Club @ Newmarket billboard.

Resident Virginia Druett claimed she found the image offensive: To portray a woman as just the bottom part of the body is an insult to every woman in Australia Women have strived for centuries to be treated with respect and equality and this is just so demeaning. How this has passed through censorship just amazes me.


9th February   

Update: Well Endowed with Nutters...

Swedish advert censors think that men are as obsessed as women about body image
Link Here

Sweden's advertising ombudsman upheld a complaint against the advertisement, promoting a television operator called Boxer, in which a photo shop character called Robert stretches out on a sheepskin rug wearing only a pair of straining, white boxer shorts.

Even if the intention was to present a humorous link between the man and product, the man is presented, through his posture and lack of clothing, as a mere sex object in a way that could be deemed offensive to men in general, the ombudsman's office claimed in a statement.

It added that Robert's legs, chest, arms and abdomen are very muscular, and the outline of his genitalia is visible through his underpants .

A complainer argued that the focus on the organ and its size had nothing to do with the product, and even if that was the case, it is no way to portray either a man or a woman . It was also claimed that Robert's physical shape could place pressure on impressionable men who aspire to have the same physique.

The advertisement sparked lively debate on internet comments sites, with many men stating they found it harmless and inoffensive, and that the ombudsman should get a life .

An editorial in Aftonbladet, a leading Swedish newspaper, said that the ombudsman had to act on equality grounds because it would have upheld a complaint if Boxer had used a female image.


8th February   

Whinger Told to Fuck Off...

Australian advert censor dismisses complaint about the use of the acronym MILF
Link Here

It is okay to use the acronym MILF in adverts according to the Australian advertising censor.

The Ad Standards Board (ASB) was considering a complaint over a Ticketmaster promotion for a tour by the actress Jennifer Coolidge.

According to the complaint: As this is a special offer, you need to enter a code word into the Ticketmaster booking engine to receive the discount. The code that you are asked to enter is MILF. This seems innocent enough except that MILF is an acronym commonly used in the porn industry for MOMS I'D LIKE TO FUCK . My objection is about the casual and insidious use of pornography (in this case a term used in pornography) to sell to the general public.

The ASB dismissed the complaint, ruling:

The Board noted the complainant's concerns that the word MILF is linked to pornography. The Board noted that the term MILF was coined in a film featuring Jennifer Coolidge and that it is an acronym for words meaning a sexually attractive older woman. The Board considered that it is not a term directly related to the pornography industry but to Jennifer Coolidge's character in the film American Pie and has subsequently been used to describe attractive mothers generally.

The Board considered that whist the word MILF did relate to the sexual attractiveness of a woman, you would need to understand the meaning of this acronym in order to understand the sexual reference. The Board considered that in the context of the advertisement for the Jennifer Coolidge tour, this word and implied reference is relevant and unlikely to be viewed or understood by children.

Whilst some members of the community may not like this word, it has become part of the common vernacular, is not generally considered offensive, and in this context is not inappropriate.


9th January   

Feeding On Easy Offence...

Doritos advert for Superbowl contest winds up the nutters
Link Here

An entry in the annual Pepsi-owned Doritos Crash the Super Bowl ad contest will never air after it caused a bit of easy offence. 

Feed Your Flock sees congregation challenged priest get divine inspiration to use Doritos to replace the more usual wafers. And Pepsi Max replaces the wine. And of course throngs of Doritos freeloaders descend en-masse.

But of course the body and blood of Christ are no joke to those who believe they are in Communion with their God when they accept the Eucharist and the wine during Mass.

Dave Williams, president of ad makers, MediaWave, says he pulled the ad from Pepsi's site and from YouTube. We felt bad, he says. Our intention was to win, not to offend.

The video now seems to have been taken down from all major video sharing sites.

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