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2011: July-Sept

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24th September   

Keep Australia Beautiful...

Australian nutters wound up by advert for diet bar
Link Here

A new group of Australian nutters called Collective Shout had a whinge about a billboard advertisement for a Vitaco diet protein bar.

The ad read Keep Australia Beautiful next to the bikini clad chest of a model.

Collective Shout feel that:

This ad reinforces a narrow standard of beauty and objectifies women. The message is that it is a woman's duty to look a certain way for the benefit of others. It may as well say Keep Australia Beautiful by looking hot in a bikini.

Australia's Advertising Standards Board didn't see it that way and dismissed a few complaints along the lines of the Collective Shout whinge. The ASB wrote:

The Board considered Section 2.3 which states:

Advertising or marketing Communications shall treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience and, where appropriate, the relevant programme time zone.

The Board noted the complainants concerns that the image is in a public place where it is visible by a broad audience, including children. The Board noted that the model is clearly clothed in a bikini and the image used is viewed in connection with the text, making a clear association between the image of the woman and the product being advertised ie: a food product designed to assist with weight management and good health.

The Board noted that although the focus of the image is on the woman.s body and particularly her chest, she is well covered by the bikini, is not in a sexualized pose and the image does not include any nudity. The Board considered that the image of the woman was not overtly sexualised and that most members of the community would consider the image a nice image of a woman at the beach.

The Board noted that the size of the advertisement and the placement on public transport meant that the relevant audience was very broad and could include children, however, the Board considered that the image was relatively mild and unlikely to be considered sexualised by most members of the community. The Board considered that most members of the community would not find the advertisement offensive.

The Board considered that the advertisement did treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience and that it did not breach Section 2.3 of the Code.

But Collective Shout now feel that they have achieved a bit of a victory after they were contacted by Vitaco and were told that the Keep Australia Beauitful campaign will now be laid to rest.


22nd September   

Armless Fun...

London Underground ban posters for Lou Reed and Metallica's Lulu album
Link Here
Full story: Transport for London Censors...Advert censorship

Posters for Metallica's forthcoming Lulu collaboration with Lou Reed have been banned from the London underground.

According to Henne Music, the authority Transport For London decided it looked too much like graffiti.

Offsite Comment: Sick

From by Lucy Jones

The poster depicts a dismembered, cut and bruised female mannequin. The word LULU, the name of the album, is scrawled across her in coagulated blood by the perpetrator's finger, we presume. Perhaps from cutting up her legs. I've only just stopped feeling sick an hour after seeing it. The artist has made the face as human as possible; this is no lifeless plastic model.

Lou Reed complained about TfL's stand, lamely asking: What would Andy Warhol or Jean Michel Basquiat say of this type of frivolous censorship? Probably something like: Grow up, man. We're not in CBGBs anymore .

Now I'm not one for censorship, and as far as I'm concerned bands can put anything they like on their album sleeves ...BUT... in the context of public transport, the image is hateful.


21st September   

Battlefield Whingers...

Battlefield 3 game advert cleared for slot during daytime football match
Link Here

A TV ad, for an 18 rated console game, was broadcast in April 2011. It included a rapid sequence of action scenes, in war scenarios. Characters held large guns and the scenes included gun fire, rocket fire, multiple explosions, tanks, helicopters and jets. Text on screen included 'THE BEST-LOOKING FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER TO DATE.' - DESTRUCTOID and 'BATTLEFIELD 3 IS UNNERVINGLY BEAUTIFUL.' - JOYSTIQ .

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction, which meant it should not be shown in or around programmes made for, or specifically targeted at, children. Issue

The ASA received four complaints from members of the public, who saw the ad during a football match at 6.15 pm.

1. The complainants objected that the violence in the ad was offensive, in particular because they believed it glorified war.

2. Two of the complainants also challenged whether the ad was appropriately scheduled, because it was broadcast at a time when children might be watching.

ASA Decision

1. Complaint Not upheld

The ASA noted Battlefield 3 was a console game based in war scenarios, some of which included shooting and explosions, and that the action sequences in the ad reflected that. We also noted, however, the ad did not include any direct interpersonal violence and also showed some war situations that did not include any gunfire or explosions. We considered the graphics and the inclusion of captions from reviews, as well as the PEGI rating, made clear the ad was for a game and therefore viewers would understand the footage did not reflect real life.

We considered it was clear, particularly in the context of the other quotation on screen, that the text 'BATTLEFIELD 3 IS UNNERVINGLY BEAUTIFUL.' - JOYSTIQ formed part of a review of the product and viewers were therefore likely to interpret it as a comment on the quality of the game, rather than on war itself. We acknowledged some viewers might find the product, or the content of the ad, to be in poor taste but considered it was unlikely to be seen to condone real life violence or to glorify war. We concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.

2. Complaint Not upheld

We considered the ad did not feature scenarios that were likely to have a directly harmful influence on older children; the sequences shown were clearly fictional and were therefore unlikely to cause harm to older children by condoning violence. Because it was based on war scenarios and included shooting and explosions, we considered the ad could cause harm to younger children but that the ex-kids restriction was sufficient to ensure the ad would not be broadcast at times when younger children would be watching TV alone. We considered the ad had been appropriately scheduled and the ex-kids restriction was sufficient.

On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 32.1, 32.3 and 32.4.8 (Scheduling of television and radio advertisements) but did not find it in breach.


14th September   

On the Brink...

ASA finds poster for the video game Brink to be too scary for kids
Link Here

A poster the video game Brink showed the head and shoulders of a man. His face was painted black and white and he appeared to be shouting or screaming at the viewer. Text, quoting a review, stated STICKS TWO FINGERS UP AT SHOOTER CONVENTIONS .

1. Forty complainants, who saw the poster in May 2011, challenged whether the ad was likely to cause fear and distress to children, especially because some posters were placed near schools and nurseries.

2. Four complainants, who found the ad offensive, challenged whether it was suitable for public display

1. & 2. Bethesda Softworks LLC (Bethesda Softworks) said the ad promoted a video game rated for an audience of 16 years or older and was designed to communicate the stylised character-driven feel of the game as it was best understood by its target audience of males of that age. They said the poster was part of a larger campaign that featured different characters and demonstrated the action and aesthetics of the game. They said the ad did not contain scenes of physical violence, guns, drugs, blood, distress or threatening behaviour and was cleared by their media agency and advertising company. They said, out of the 4384 panels displayed as part of the campaign, only 40 were within 100 metres of schools. They said they would work on the geographic focus of their targeting mechanisms to further limit the placement of future campaigns near schools. They said it was not their intention to shock or frighten people and believed there was nothing in the ad to cause offence, harm or distress.

ASA Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA noted the target audience for the game was males aged 16 years and older and the poster was part of a wider campaign that featured different characters. However, we considered that, because the ad appeared in an untargeted medium, including on telephone boxes and bus shelters, it was likely to be seen by young children. We acknowledged that the ad was highly stylised and designed to promote the character-driven nature of the game. However, we noted a large number of complainants reported that their young children had been frightened and distressed by the image. We considered that, because the image of the man shouting or screaming had caused fear and distress to young children, it was unsuitable for display in an untargeted medium that parents of young children could not necessarily avoid. We concluded that the ad breached the Code.

On this point the ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.2 (Harm and offence).

2. Not upheld

We considered that, although some might find the image of the man shouting or screaming distasteful, there was nothing in the ad that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We concluded that the ad did not breach the Code on those grounds.


9th September   

Updated: Miraculously Easily Offended...

Christians and advert censors whinge at Phones 4 U advert featuring cartoon Christ
Link Here

Two versions of a national press ad for Phones 4 U on 21 April 2011 featured a cartoon-like graphical illustration of Jesus Christ grinning broadly and winking, pointing a finger with one hand and displaying a thumbs-up sign with the other. The Sacred Heart was featured on his chest. Headline text stated Miraculous deals on Samsung Galaxy AndroidTM phones .

Ninety-eight complainants challenged whether the ads were offensive, because the depiction of Jesus Christ and the Sacred Heart, the use of the term miraculous in that context and their publication during the Easter period were disrespectful to the Christian faith.

Phones 4 U said the ads were not intended to be disrespectful of the Christian faith nor were they intended to cause offence to Christians. They explained that their intention had been to run a press ad incorporating what they understood to be a light-hearted, positive and contemporary image of Christianity relevant to the Easter weekend. They said that with the benefit of hindsight, they understood and regretted any offence the ads had caused to some Christians and they apologised to anyone who was offended by the ads.

They explained that they had received some complaints directly and had promptly issued individual responses and apologies to those complainants. They said they withdrew the ads as soon as the negative reaction became apparent and confirmed they had no plans to run the ads again in their current form or in any similar form.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA noted that Phones 4 U had not intended to cause any offence and we welcomed their explanation that the ads had been withdrawn following the receipt of negative feedback. We noted that the ads featured a cartoon-like graphical illustration of Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity, and the Sacred Heart, a sacred symbol central to the Christian faith. We considered that, although the ads were intended to be light-hearted and humorous, their depiction of Jesus winking and holding a thumbs-up sign, with the text Miraculous deals during Easter, the Christian Holy Week which celebrated Christ's resurrection, gave the impression that they were mocking and belittling core Christian beliefs. We therefore concluded that the ads were disrespectful to the Christian faith and were likely to cause serious offence, particularly to Christians.

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

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We welcomed Phones 4 U's assurance that the ads had been withdrawn and would not be run again in the same or similar form.

Offsite Comment: Prawn Brained Censors

9th September 2011. See  article from by Nelson Jones

In the past few years, the ASA has been taking an increasingly strict, some would say humourless, line on suggestions of religious offensiveness. It has, for example, banned a series of ice-cream adverts featuring pregnant nuns and gay priests, and even one for curling-tongs which employed the slogan, a new religion for hair . One of the adverts deemed likely to cause serious or widespread offence triggered a mere six complaints. The decision led the National Secualar Society to accuse the ASA of surreptitiously re-introducing the blasphemy law.

At the very least, the ASA seems to have an alarmingly low threshold as to what constitutes offence where religion is concerned. An advert, it seems, need not be objectively outrageous; it's enough that someone somewhere might potentially take exception to it. The ASA's code, it is true, states that particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. But it does not explain why this should be necessary, and it's hard to see why advertising should be subjected to restraints that would be considered intolerable in literature, film, art or even television.

...Read the full article


2nd September   

Look Good in All You Do...

Canadian hair salon advert sparks 'outrage'
Link Here

A woman sporting a black eye looks passively at the camera as a man stands behind her offering what looks to be a diamond necklace. It's an image that may resonate with survivors of domestic violence. But actually it is part of the advertising campaign for Edmonton-based Fluid Hair.

The photo is one of a series featuring well-coiffed women in various settings under the tag, Look good in all you do. Even, presumably, when your partner has socked you one.

The series of adverts has predictably sparked 'outrage' among campiagners and set the salon's Facebook page ablaze with criticism.

It glamorises domestic violence, said Jan Reimer, coordinator for the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters:

They may have had the best of intentions, but I don't think they thought it out much in terms of what the message is. It seems like this is an ad for domestic violence.

Rebutting her detractors, owner Sarah Cameron says that she considers the image to be art and a satirical look at real life situations .  Speaking out after local journalists called on residents to boycott the salon, Cameron has offered an apology while simultaneously chalking it up to a silly misunderstanding on the part of her critics. She explained:

For those that don't understand the photo if you look closely she's strong, not looking at him, not accepting the necklace. We will put out more photos because that is how we communicate and by the reaction to everyone directly attacking me and some of those who worked on the project. It shows how prevalent abuse is still amongst our society.


30th August   

Advert Kerbs...

Hyundai car advert banned by Dutch TV
Link Here

A clever but television commercial for the all-new Hyundai Veloster has been banned in the Netherlands.

The ad contends that, in a standard car, the rear doors open out onto the traffic side of the road, potentially placing passengers in the path of passing traffic -- and into the spindly grasp of the Grim Reaper.

The Veloster, however, only has a rear door on the kerb side of the vehicle, meaning anyone exiting from the rear will be stepping on the footpath rather than into the path of oncoming traffic.

The ad makes a poignant point, but apparently it was a little too graphic for the Dutch censors.

However Mashable suggests that the ban may just be hype.


27th August   

Idiots at ABC Fall for Movie Hype...

ABC kindly ban trailer for Our Idiot Brother
Link Here

There's nothing like a censorship 'controversy' to help market a movie.

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is surely emjoying ABC's decision to ban one of the trailers for Our Idiot Brother . The TV network didn't like the shots of what looked like a drug exchange or a shot of Paul Rudd pretending to urinate, or the general talk about smoking and getting high.

So The Weinstein Company cut another red band trailer aimed at mature audiences. And Weinstein issued a flippant statement: We'd like to dedicate our new red band trailer for Our Idiot Brother to censorship everywhere. Enjoy!!


18th August   

Censor Objects...

Australian advertising censor whinges at advert it claims is 'sexualised'
Link Here

An advert for the menswear company, New Love Club, that shows a teenage girl with the word slave barcoded on her bare shoulder and her open mouth filled with a disc showing the Union Jack, has been banned because it supposedly presents her as a sexual object.

Following several complaints about the ad for menswear retailer Roger David, the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau asked for it to be withdrawn, claiming it inappropriately depicted a young girl in a sexualised manner .

The ASB said the ad suggested the girl was being held against her will, that the object filling her mouth evoked a sense of her being gagged and that she looked as though she was under 18.

Roger David defended the ad, telling the ASB that the woman was 18 when the photo was taken and that she is a model in the United Kingdom . Roger David also said the woman was fully clothed and that the ad did not portray sex, sexuality or nudity.

Roger David sent the ad via email to members on its subscriber list but has now withdrawn the ad.


16th August   

Good Catholics Use Condoms...

Religious adverts banned in Madrid
Link Here

Madrid is playing a part in World Youth Day, billed as a great worldwide encounter with the Pope.

Catholic youth from around the world will gather in Madrid to attend various events including Mass with the Pope.

For the past few years, the US organization Catholics for Choice (CFC) has run advertisements on billboards and in subway stations as part of their campaign, Condoms4Life, in the cities where World Youth Day is held. This year, however, the ads were banned.

CFC had put together a series of ads thanking Pope Benedict XVI for acknowledging, however bizarrely, that condoms can do good.

The ads, which were intended to run in the Madrid transit system, were rejected by Publimedia, a Madrid-based advertising agency. The official reason for the ban is unclear.

In a press release, CFC president Jon O'Brien defended the ads:

As Catholics, we were supporting Pope Benedict's claim that condoms can save lives. This was a major breakthrough in the hierarchy's position on the use of condoms. How can it be offensive for Catholics to support the position of the pope?


10th August   

Fat Cat Censors...

ASA moralises about a tee shirt appearing on an American website
Link Here

The California company Zazzle Inc's website advertised a children's T-shirt in April 2011. It was labelled Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels Tee Shirt . An image of the product, which carried the slogan NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS SKINNY FEELS! , was included.

The complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and could cause harm to children, because they believed it implied being underweight was desirable and therefore might encourage children to develop an unhealthy body image and an unhealthy relationship with food.

Zazzle said they were a technology company that had developed a platform to allow an open marketplace for products designed by users. They said members of their marketplace were free to create and sell their own designs on products. Although Zazzle did not pre-screen content before it was uploaded to their website, the marketplace had tools to allow users to report products they found offensive or that otherwise violated their user agreement. They said the designs in question were created by a member or members of the marketplace. However, when they were contacted by the ASA, Zazzle had restricted the designs so they did not appear on children's clothing.

ASA Assessment Upheld

The ASA noted Zazzle had restricted the design so it no longer appeared on children's clothing. We also noted, however, that at the time the ad appeared, it featured children and promoted a product that was designed for them to wear. We considered an ad that promoted a children's T-shirt that carried the slogan NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS SKINNY FEELS! implied being underweight was desirable and that it might therefore encourage children to develop an unhealthy body image and an unhealthy relationship with food. Because we considered the ad could condone or encourage an unsafe practice or result in physical, mental or moral harm to children, we concluded that it was irresponsible.

The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), 4.5 (Harm and offence) and 5.1 (Children).

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Zazzle to ensure future ads were not irresponsible and, particularly where they were addressed to or depicted children, did not contain anything that was likely to condone or encourage an unsafe practice or to result in their physical, mental or moral harm.


3rd August   

Moralist Advert Censorship...

Vandals easily offended by Kelly Brook street advert
Link Here
Two Muslims have been fined for vandalism. They sprayed black burkas on images of hot women in street adverts.

They told the judge in their recent court appearance that it's a sin for women to dress provocatively, and that they were just trying to do good, reports the Daily Mail. They painted over a gigantic-bosomed angel on a Lynx deodorant ad, and defaced a poster for Nicolas Cage's new film Drive Angry , among others.

Hasnath and Tahir, both 18, told police that the way the women had been photographed was against their religion. Hasnath said: If someone was to look at our wife or mother or daughter with a bad intention, we would not like it, so we were just trying to do good.

They admitted to six counts of criminal damage, and were fined £ 283 each and released on a 12-month conditional discharge.


25th July   

Update: Gay Switch...

Lithuanian advertising law undergoes attitudinal change
Link Here
Lithuania's Parliament has banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in advertising.

The move was a turnaround from earlier drafts of the same bill, which banned homosexual topics in advertising.

The new language says that advertising and audiovisual commercial communications must not publish information that humiliates human dignity, discriminating or encouraging discrimination based on ... sexual orientation.

The Lithuanian Gay League credited MP Valentinas Stundys and Deputy Speaker Algis Caplikas with engineering the about-face.


13th July   

Prim and Not So Proper...

Top Shop take down advert highlighting very slim model
Link Here

The Topshop clothes shop has succumbed to the pressure of campaigners , and have removed an image of 18-year-old model Codie Long from their website, after claims that the image could encourage anorexia. The image has now been replaced with another less pronounced picture of Ms Long.

Karen Easthall, who runs an anorexia support group in Norfolk, told the Daily Mail that Ms Long appeared to be a size zero, and that Topshop should know that publishing a disturbing picture of a stick-thin model can cause problems with young girls, who may try to copy them .

Andrew Leahy, Topshop's head of publicity, responded: Topshop is confident that Codie is a healthy young woman and we do not feel it necessary to remove her from our imagery... However, we do recognise regretfully that the angle this image has been shot at may accentuate Codie's proportions, making her head look bigger and neck longer in proportion to her body. Codie does not have the sunken eyes referred to in your piece, the sunglasses are featured because we retail them and they make up part of the look.


11th July   

An Unnatural Whinge...

New Zealand ASA dismisses complaint about negative gay comment advertising period drama
Link Here

A complaint about an advertisement for popular period drama Downton Abbey that refers to homosexuality as unnatural, has not been upheld by the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The magazine and newspaper advertisement for the programme showed a picture of a servant and a member of the family he worked for.

Underneath the picture of the two men were the words: Exclusive, servant seeks unnatural relationship .

A complainant claimed that the advert had a clear inference - that a male same sex relationship is unnatural . I believe it is seriously offensive to label the idea of a same sex relationship as unnatural.

The advertising agency DRAFTCB explained that the advertisement was designed to look like the front cover of a gossip magazine from the early 1900s. The headline was not a comment on today's values but a reflection of the attitudes of the period the programme was set in.

In a majority decision, the ASA said it accepted the argument the description of the relationship was a reflection of the time in which the television series was set, and did not uphold the complaint.


5th July   

Immoderate Censorship...

Drinks censor bans advert featuring a slowed down cover of Too Drunk to Fuck
Link Here

    The UK's self appointed drinks censor has banned a Kronenbourg 1664 campaign featuring the Dead Kennedy's song, Too Drunk to Fuck.

Heineken's Kronenbourg 1664 campaign featured banner advertisements on the music site Spotify. The ads directed listeners to a special Kronenbourg slowed down playlist as part of a campaign by the beer brand called Slow the Pace . The playlist featured normally breakneck speed music uncharacteristically slowed down from the original track.

One of the tracks on the playlist was the Dead Kennedys' Too Drunk to Fuck, originally a thrashy ode to a misspent evening, as covered by the band Nouvelle Vague in an ironic easy-listening style.

Drinks industry trade organisation, the Portman Group, which operates a self-regulatory code of practice, received a complaint about the promotion and the use of the track.

The Portman Group's independent complaints panel said that while Kronenbourg had not set out to promote irresponsible drinking , nevertheless the track name and lyrics referenced drinking to excess, thereby associating the brand with immoderate consumption .


3rd July   

Update: Always First to Whinge...

New Zealand nutters wound up Lady Godiva advert
Link Here
New Zealand nutters have been wound up by an advertising billboard.

The Ecoya skincare company is up before the advertising censors of the ASA for a billboard that critics claim as sexually provocative .

The billboard, one of three Ecoya erected last month in Auckland and Wellington to promote their natural skin care products, has elicited three formal complaints.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the billboard was unacceptable as it could be seen by children:

There is a sexually provocative undertone to it, I think, that is what makes it cross the border and the boundary of public decency.

The fact of the matter is they [children] are being forced to be more open to it ... Should we be protecting their moral innocence, does it matter if we sexualise everything? What harm is that doing?

McCoskrie also called for a vetting system that would give his fellow nutters a stronger voice.

Ecoya marketing manager Donna Marris said the company was proud of the images, describing them as tasteful and effective:

We don't expect everyone to respond in the same way, but what it's about is delivering clear and beautiful skin and this image shows a nourished body in a tasteful way.

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